I got into Berlin late, and almost forgot my phone on the plane. I took a cab into the city and he was mad sketchy. Mel was already at the hostel and gave me (shotty) instructions on how to get into the hostel. It was our first shared washrooms of the trip (my favorite), but the Hostel itself was quite nice and had awards plastered everywhere. I’m not sure what the awards were for, but I think I would be a better judge on Hostels than whoever is currently voting. As a wanna-be nudist/exhibitionist, showers with clear doors and no curtains is truly a dream come true. It was an old building with huge ceilings, clearly before elevators (just asked my calves).
The first morning we tried to learn how to use the metro to get to a couple attractions we were hoping to see. The map made it look really spread apart, but turned out to be quite close together. We saw Parliament? – it’s still TBD because we don’t actually know, but we assumed it and that’s good enough for this blog! I stopped at Starbucks because I wanted to, and it was delightful. The pastry selection at European Starbucks is next level – highly recommended. We went to the Brandenberg gate which was neat, and was beside a really a pretty park. It seemed like at every turn there was a monument or statue. I thought the city as a whole was going to be more of an up-lifter, but was actually quite a bummer. The history was, of course, so interesting, but I thought it was going to be more celebratory of “let’s learn from these mistakes” but it seemed like more of an apology and it shouldn’t have happened, or ended sooner. It was a weird vibe.
Downtown was very pretty and looked like any other metropolis, but with statues and history dropped in here and there. We went to the Holocaust Memorial, which was huge and overwhelming. There weren’t any signs to explain what it all meant, but the detail was very precise, the heights and sizes of each of the monuments was clearly for something, it was quite cool. We had lunch at Tony Roma’s because neither of us felt like we had had vegetables in 14 years, so we both got salads. As expected, there was a Christmas market at every turn and we got a postcard from there of us – it was stupid and expensive. We went to the Berlin Wall Panorama Museum, and it was quite cool. This is for sure where I learnt most about the wall. It had excerpts from a Documentary created while the wall was up and coming down, as well as photos and quotes from people visiting or living by it. It was quite cool. On the other side was a full 3 story Panorama of what it looked like from West Germany while the wall was up. It was huge and the ambiance was really different. It was scary, but more intimidating and unknown. I can’t imagine living in a world like that. It’s hard to believe that the wall was up so recently and that was a way of life not so long ago. Across the street was the Cold War Museum, so we went and looked in there too. It was far more dry but I love reading about espionage and conspiracy. I went back and tried to have a nap, and Mel went for out for dinner with an old friend while I watched finals from Worlds.
The next morning we were soooo motivated to get everything done, so we got up early, got a pastry and hit the train. The public transportation was vast but confusing – buses, metro, tram, train, we couldn’t keep up. I can’t even figure out the LRT in Edmonton and it’s a straight line through the city. We wanted to go to the Schloss Charlottenberg Palace, and actually tour it. Mel doesn’t like Palaces but they’re my favorite – I mean, how else am I supposed to figure out where I’m going to live when I’m older? We got there and the GD palace WAS CLOSED! We checked online and everything. And of course, outside the GD palace was a GD Christmas Market. Why ya need a market when ya palace is closed?
Mel had heard of a cool bar, called the Monkey Bar by the zoo, which overlooked the Monkeys at the actual zoo so we went there for a beverage (more here: the monkey bar post) and then we went to the Hardrock for Lunch. We got enormous portions and ate maybe a third of it. Classic North Americans. The Hardrock was on a swanky ass shopping street so naturally I had to browse. We hit our last Christmas Market of Berlin, which we realized were all the same just varying in number of Christmas ornament stands offering the same ornaments. We got on the train again to the Berlin Wall Memorial which was cool. It was really just the poles that held up the wall and signs of where tunnels and stuff were surrounding the wall. I had found a list of coffee shops to visit in the world and we ticked off our first one: Bonanza Coffee. It was mad hipster but super cute.
We went to a Greek restaurant by the Hostel for supper and it was top grade. The food was super authentic and delish, but the funniest part was the two families who brought their DOGS into the restaurant and one was barking up a storm and nooooooo one was bothered by it. It was so weird. I just pictured Koda going nuts at anything and everything at Joey at home and me getting my ass kicked out in 2.5 seconds. The waiter brought over two shots as a gift and Mel smelt it and was like “I can’t even smell the alcohol”, so I smell it and it was effin Sambucca. I almost died. It was filthy. I finished the night watching Netflix and going to bed early for our flight to Belgrade the next morning.
We are in Belgrade now, and it’s interesting!