Berlin, day 4
I’ll be leaving Berlin for Paris by train from the Hauptbahnhof, so I decided to do a ‘dry run’, to check how long it would take me to get there, and check out the station as well. It’s an amazingly BIG place. It took me about 30 minutes to get there, and another 20 minutes to fin the right platform, so I was glad that I made the effort to find out before I had to rush to catch the train. The S-bahn at Hauptbahnhof is located on the top floor of the station, while the international trains depart below ground, five levels lower.
I got back on the S-bahn for one of the expected highlights of my trip - the Kaiser Wilhelm church memorial, next to Kurfurstendamm.
I left the right station, but couldn’t seem to find it anywhere… until I realised that I was standing right in front of it… but it was completely covered in a screen because it’s in the middle of a two-year restoration! Not one of the references I had researched before leaving home had mentioned that. It was incredibly disappointing.
Since I was in that part of town, I wandered briefly along the Ku’Damm strip, but really, it’s just another shopping strip. I also checked out the KaDeWe department store, then caught the U-bahn a couple of stops to Nollendorferplatz, for a complete change of scenery. I picked up a delicious snack for lunch at a market there - some sort of flat-bread pizza with cream cheese instead of tomato. My mouth still waters just thinking about it.
Back on the S-bahn, I decided to jump out at Stadtmitte, and find the Gendarmenmarkt, which I had been unable to locate a day or so previously. This time, I found it immediately… and I found it magnificent. A truly splendid sight.
In the next block is the Berlin outlet of Galeries Lafayette, and continuing on up the road via a posh shopping strip gets you back to Friedrichsbahn, and thence to Museumsinsel. I stopped at the Altes Museum to see the fine collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities, and then, a bit worn out, headed for home on the tram.
Berlin, day 3
So much to see in Berlin, so little time!
I started with a train trip to Gesundbrunnen, to take a tour of a re-discovered Nazi bunker, which sits alongside an operational U-bahn station.
I then took took the U-bahn back to Alexanderplatz, and spent the afternoon exploring this vast square and the wider Mitte district. I visited the Galeria Kaufhof department store, the Marienkirche, the Neptunbrunnen, the Marx-Engels Forum, the Berliner Dom, and the disappointing DDR Museum, and gave up on a visit to the TV tower observation deck when I saw the length of the queue! And there’s still so much more to see. So much amazingness in such a small area; I’ll have to go back another day for more.
Finally, I returned to Friedrichshain late in the afternoon to stock up on groceries, and on the way, tried my first currywurst (delicious!) and picked up a slice of cherry tart for later.
Berlin, day 2
Up at 07:00 on a Sunday… must be the jet lag!Weather forecast: 20 degrees & cloudy.
Planned to visit the Deutsches Technikmuseum, so I headed for the train station. Buying a ticket was both easier and harder than I expected - mostly because the stupid ticket machine rejected my cash on the first attempt. To make things even more complex, the train line I was using was undergoing works, with certain sections closed, and when I arrived at my stop, it was also undergoing reconstruction, meaning.. that I headed off in the wrong direction and got lost on my first attempt to find the museum. Re-tracing my steps, I eventually did find it… and it was *wonderful*. So much to see. It’s largely set in a grand, disused 19th century rail station, but has a new building filled with aviation & maritime artifacts (including a beautiful Ju52). The station section contains all sorts of technical history - tv, radio, computers, phones and trains, trains, trains - a huge collection of 19th & 20th century engines & carriages.
After visiting the entire museum, I returned to Gleisdreieck station, and, unable to go back to where I came from due to track works, headed the other way, to Potsdamer Platz.
Potsdamer Platz is still undergoing restoration and renovation after damage caused in WII and the cold war, but I was able to visit an observation deck called Panoramapunkt, as well the Sony Centre and the Film & TV museum. My camera ran out of battery at the latter, so I headed home to charge it.
Late in the day, I took a tram ride on the M13 to see some of the streets of Friedrichshain and eastern Berlin, then stopped for a coffee in Simon-Dach Str on my home.
Berlin, day 1
So much for keeping a travel blog! Arrived in Berlin right on time at 10:05hrs on 27 Aug after a draining series of flights from Melbourne. My hosts, Steffen & Andre kindly collected me from Tegel airport and delivered me to the beautiful apartment that I was renting -a loft in a renovated 19th century button factory building in Friedrichshain, in Berlin’s south-east.
The weather had been hot in Berlin for the previous week, up to 34 degrees the previous day, so the apartment was also quite hot when we arrived, even tho the temperature for that day would only get to around 23.
After unpacking, showering, shaving and changing into fresh clothes, I went exploring my new neighbourhood, walking to the nearby cafe strip of Simon-Dach Str, then back to a nearby supermarket to pick up supplies. I stopped to buy a quick lunch at a Vietnamese cafe, but my German was so bad that the guy I ordered from thought I was French! I also found it much harder shopping in Germany than in France, as my German is even poorer than my French, but I managed to find most stuff I needed.
After dropping the groceries back home, I walked down Warschauer Str and found the Oberbaumbrucke, then wandered along the East Side Gallery (outdoor art on remnants of the Berlin Wall), before a sudden heavy rainshower encouraged me to head back home. En route, I tried out the pommes at a curry stand near the station.
I’d planned to go out after dinner, but by 20:00, the long trip was catching up with me, and I needed to get some sleep.