Brautwerst and Beer in Berlin

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
Trip End Feb 01, 2012

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

At last we have made it to Berlin! It has been on our radar for a while and the city did not disappoint. First of all our hostel was really amazing. It had a cool bar that was open 23 hours a day, a lovely courtyard and it served great food. 
After chucking in our backpacks we went on the hunt for breakfast as we were starving (more on our food predicament in a later installment). We soon found a place that did amazing sandwiches and coffee. Bellies now satisfied, we went and explored the city. We headed straight to the Brandenburg gate. It was quite surreal standing in front of this iconic place. Even though i was only 14 at the time, i still remember the images on t.v. of the East & West Berliners finally coming back together after the fall of the wall. It was one of the first "where were you moments" of my life. The others being Diana's death and September 11th. (I refuse to say 9/11)!
Anyhow we loitered around there for a while and then we decided to check out the Reistag. Unfortunately, there was a massive queue and we did not have the energy to join it so we just lay on the grass in front of the entrance instead.
We briefly walked through the Tiergarten (Berlin's massive park) as we were looking for the holocaust memorial. We came across it and were very disappointed with it, not knowing that we were at the wrong place and we had already seen the memorial 30 mins earlier which we liked! We would make great guide book writers. (hmmm)
As my lovely lady will mention Saturday night, i will write about our daytime activities. We took a walk along the River Spree (where the term shopping spree comes from. Thanks Marcus)! and then headed to the East Side Gallery which is the last remaining segment of the original Berlin wall. Like the day before it was very moving to be in front of something that played such a big part in world history. it's called the gallery because the wall is now covered with murals painted by different artists. Even though we were tired and it was getting late we headed to a place called Treptower Park on the recommendation of a friend ( cheers Leo, you were right, it was well worth it). It is in the far east of the city and first off it is a lovely park. The main reason for going though was to see this amazing Soviet monument to 2,000 fallen soldiers during the second world war. The sheer scale of the place was awe inspiring. We were so glad we made the effort and it ended a perfect day.  

And so the second leg of our journey is complete. We are at the station in Berlin waiting for our train to Russia feeling in awe of the historical places we've seen. Whilst Paul has captured the visit beautifully I have to say he has glossed over our incident with the Jewish memorial. He hasn't mentioned how scornful we were to see weeds growing on the rocks we mistook for
the memorial or the funny pictures we took on the actual thing, thinking it was a modern art installation. Imagine our horror when we saw a picture of the memorial later on in the day and realised how inappropriately we'd behaved. Oops.

On our last morning we woke up early to beat the queues at the Pergamon museum - a brilliant strategy if I can say so myself. If you only visit one museum in Berlin, let this be it. With an audio guide in tow we could really appreciate the 2000 year old statues depicting the fight between the Greek gods and the giants. The guide explained that the statue with the shield 
represented Athena and her serpent wrapped around the giant meant that death was inevitable for him. The guide pointed out the giant's foot trying to reach the floor as this would give him strength, and the goddess of victory clasping Athena's hand to show who had won. The biggest story in Greek mythology represented in statues carved by hand all those years ago - these statues were all part of the Pergamon Altar thousands of years ago - wow!. The other thing that really impressed us was the entrance to Babylon which is recreated in the museum. Look at the pictures of the blue tiles with life size lions sticking out. Imagine a wide road line up with about 50 of them on each side as you walk into Babylon facing a giant gate of the same blue tiles. It gave me the shivers.

I have to say that whilst Berlin is not as pretty as Paris it's got the best nightlife I've ever come across. When we got here I told Paul I really wished we found a non-touristy underground bar with live music. The kind of bar other people tell stories about... On our last night in Berlin we walked for miles to get to a restaurant recommended by our guide book. We arrived there with an empty belly and a sense of anticipation. Alas our excitement was short lived as we had barely made it through the door when the owner/chef/barman shooed us off uttering something in German. I promise it wasn't our appearance as we had scrubbed up nicely for our night out. Anyways, dejected and still hungry we roamed the streets of Berlin looking for something authentic. It came in the shape of a pub in an old house with black and white floor tiles and an ornate wooden case holding the drinks. The chairs were mismatched, the walls were uneven and most importantly it seemed to be full of locals. We stopped there for a bite to eat and soon noticed people vanishing down a set of stairs. We noticed one guy descending with a pair of drum sticks (not the chicken variety) looked like we had found our bar. We walked down, paid the cover charge and entered this low lit room with arches made of dark red brick. Soon this guy walked on with a gelled up giant quiff, a belt buckle the size of a shoebox and a black shirt with collar turned up. The minute he opened his mouth it seemed like he had timetravelled from the 50's straight onto the stage in front of us. He had an amazing soul voice and sounded completely different with each and every song. He sang some fifties classics and then settled on what sounded like songs by the Doors'. At this point everyone who had been seated, including us, jumped up and swayed along in a trance like state only to start twisting fervently as Mr. voice switched to rock'n roll. We danced the night away and ended our visit planning to come back for more.

On our last day we managed to trek down the Bratwurst guys who walk around with a grill attached to their hips and cook sausages on the go. There's a pic of Paul next to one guy about to purchase our cheapest lunch of the trip! Only in ze Chermany....

Until next time
Paul & Karen

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Phil on

alright kids, glad your loving berlin and still in your travelling honeymoon period before you start shitting your arse out and running out of money!! stock up on food now before you hit russia and will be drinking warm sheeps milk to survive. Cynthia is in Turkey in 40 degrees doing Yoga by the sea. I'm in London it's cloudy and I'm eating a bowl of cereal after the pub then going to bed. BIG LOVE!!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Marcus Harper on

The Ruskies do know how to put together a few slabs of granit and marble to remember the fallen the place is awsome

The eternal flame was put out by an Irish Guardsman from Northfield after a night on the lash well he did not have a mark for the toilet

I know all about the night life 18months I had to suffer that city the bars, the river beach, the concerts oh and the food it was a hard life living in a city behind the iron curtain but a Belstone Commando did the job

Hope moscow is ok with the smog and fires they are having all the best

Marija on

Hey guys,

Wow, thanks for that trip down memory lane... Berlin, what a city, and yes, that memorial is something else. Alex and I saw it on this very cold December day, when the sky was totally overcast but there was the glare that was nearly insufferable, a surreal experience I assure you.

And yes, the Pergammon Museum is something else, isn't it?!

As to Paris vs Berlin, I don't know if it's my German heritage, or the fact that I got engaged there, but Berlin definitely tops Paris in my books... There's a melancholy to the city, a suffering that is felt, and yet there is resilience and pride... Quite a powerful cocktail...

Enjoy your next stop (after Russia, that is, since I'm posting this late).

Take care x

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