Saturday, 26 July 2008

being rocked to her socks by Berlin.

Made it out of Hamburg ok, and arrived in Berlin. Found my hotel - it was lovely, beautiful, amazing, wonderful. Funnily enough, staying in a place where I felt perfectly comfortable actually inspired me to get out more, so on my first day I found the motivation to go on a 3.5 hour walking tour of the city. It was pretty cool, we saw all the big stuff: the brandenburg gate, the tv tower, the wall, checkpoint charlie, the reichstag, the holocaust memorial, the spot where Hitler commited suice (now a carpark), the French plaza, the opera house. The tour guide was a bit of an arrogant American, but it did away with the need to fill my time up with 'culture' so it freed up the rest of my time.

Friday was a shopping day - I headed around Berlin to the funky stores that the internet told me about. I managed to spend a lot of money without actually buying much, so it was kind of lucky that everything was so overwhelmingly cool that I couldn't choose anything. I had a delicious breakfast at the Jules Verne cafe (oh the Germans, they love their quark) and a delicious vietnamese lunch and apple/mint/soda at Monsieur Vuong, and it seemed that everywhere I went I would find interesting streets with cool things to look at. In the evening I went to see a performance of La Boheme, which was unfortuantley in German, but I suppose it was either that or Italian so it wouldn't've made much difference. But now i can say i saw a proper German music, and it was pretty good if not amazing (thought it's the off season, so even that's a compliment). Got back to the hotel, decided I needed a drink (it had been 30 degrees that day) so went to the vending machine and found it sold bottles of Beck's for 2 euro, and the machine even had a bottle opener built in! I felt like a total bogan walking to my room open beer in hand, but I guess that's Germany for you, and it's totally ok there. Although I'm not sure if graduating to drinking alone is a good or bad thing...

Saturday I packed in yet more culture after having decided not to get sucked into that again. Honestly - it's so easy to feel you have to go and see x, y, z, but in the end you get overwhelmed and don't see as much as if you'd just bought a coffee and people watched. Well, Jules Verne for breakfast again, the gardens of the Charlottenberg castle, then the Bauhaus Archiv (which now has the honour of being the lamest museum I've been to - the gift shop was about the same size as the museum! Lucky I scammed a student ticket, and even it was barely worth it!), a cute shop called rsvp paper where i found some awesome postcards. In the evening I went to see the Blue Man Group (more for Arrested Development that anything) which was pretty cool (a lot of percussion and paint involved) but in the end more gimicky than artistic. Also, there was a lot of audience participation which I do hate, because I don't enjoy myself and I just want it to hurry up and FINISH so i don't have to feel nervous about being chosen and made a fool out of. Afterwards I went to the Pergamon museum and learned all about the Babylonians, before stopping off at an old man bar and having a 'Berliner weiss, rot' which is apparently a Berlin speciality, except it was brought to them by the French who call it a Monaco, and it's what we would call 'red cordial in beer'. Still, due to the superior German beer, it does actually taste better than anywhere else.

Berlin is actually a pretty ugly city - after being flattened during WW2, and then being split in half by the cold war, most of it's pretty new and boxy. But the funny thing is, it feels more inspiring than almost every other city I've visited. Perhaps it feels young and forward looking since it's still in the process of defining itself. But it was great to be somewhere so exciting that I would walk for 10 hours and still feel like doing something in the evening rather than holing up in my hotel room for some zone out time.

Oh fiddlesticks! I forgot to have a Berliner!

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