World Cup fever

Trip Start Mar 07, 2006
Trip End Jun 30, 2006

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Flag of Germany  ,
Friday, June 9, 2006

Well, I've come full circle, back to Berlin where the tour started, for its conclusion last night. Wednesday was a long drive from Warsaw, stopping only for a quick lunch at a supermarket that gave a clear picture of how cheap prices really are in Poland, outside the touristy areas, that is. There was a bit of a wait at the border because the guards were being extra stringent. They explained that this was because a television crew was filming them for a news segment on border procedures ahead of the World Cup. Their fifteen minutes of fame, I suppose.

On the way back to the hotel on Wednesday, we made a stop at the East Side Gallery, which is the largest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. It is several hundred meters long and covered in colourful and inventive graffiti, mostly having to do with politics and democracy. Great photo opportunity. Of course, souvenir shops everywhere sell "authentic" chunks of the Berlin Wall, and of course I had to buy some even though anyone who really believes that they're authentic probably also believes in the Easter Bunny. Anyway.

Yesterday was the last day of the tour. We did a walking tour around Berlin in the morning, which took in most of the things I'd seen on my first day in Berlin while walking around jetlagged. Except that now I know all the information about them, which is cool. A lot of the tour focused on WWII history, and on Communist East Berlin. We went back to the Gate, the Reichstag, the museums, the square in front of Humboldt University where the Nazis staged their infamous book burning, the Topographz of Terror exhibit on the site of former SS and Gestapo Headquarters, even the site of Hitler's bunker. The walking tour ended at "Checkpoint Charlie", and we visited the museum there, which contained tons of interesting information and displays. Then, a few of us went to the gourmet food court at KaDaWe for the most incredible array of lunch foods anyone could possibly imagine. Finally, out for dinner with the group, before going on a bizarre pub crawl that took us to what were surely Berlin's strangest nightspots. All's well that ends... weird. We all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. No more being a sheep!

Today was a free day for me here in Berlin. Unfortunately, my cold is back, so I'm taking it easy for the most part. Just walking around the streets is interesting, because there are half a million tourists all here for the World Cup opening ceremony taking place tonight. I've seen shirts, banners and flags from just about every country in the games. (No Canadian flags, of course). There are crowds everywhere and I can't help but get caught up in the excitement, even if I don't really understand most of it. Australia is in the games for the first time in decades, so there are Aussies everywhere, which always adds an element of fun to any party. (Australians in a country famous for beer... hmmmm...)

Tomorrow I'll be escaping the crowds and the madness of the World Cup and heading south. It's weird to think that I'm now on the last leg of my travels, and will be heading home most likely at the end of this month. Do you all miss me yet? If not, better hurry up.
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demiurge on

I was just recently reading on the BBC that Hitler's bunker had been finally revealed publicly. I was going to mention that you missed it, but I guess the tour companies are really quick on the uptake there! :S

Apparently it was blown up and replaced with a parking lot, so I'm not entirely sure what the controversy was about. :p

Enjoy the last leg of your trip!



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