Around Berlin

Oof. Long day. I’m currently sipping a French beer Marco introduced me to called Desperados (heh, drinking a Mexican-themed French beer purchased in Germany – how international!). It has a hint of tequila flavoring in it. It’s not as cold as it should be, but still refreshing. Once I’m done typing this I will go downstairs and post what I’ve typed, since I can only get internet access on the ground floor.

My day started out late. I woke up at around 9:30am, showered, and took my laptop downstairs for internet. They were still sorta serving breakfast, I think I just hit the cutoff, because they were packing up. They brought me out a pot of coffee and a ceramic server with a dairy product of some sort in it. I’m guessing cream. I drank some coffee, checked my email, sent a couple, and watched a couple videos of Starcraft 2, which Blizzard just announced. Looks good. Gameplay reminds me a bit of Bungie’s Myth games.

Then it was back upstairs for some quick planning. I didn’t know what to go to, so I figured I’d head for a cluster of museums on the map and wing it from there.

I walked over to the subway, and bought an all-day subway pass for 6,20€. Funny thing about the German subway and train systems – they are mostly the honor system. You get on the train or subway, and *should* have a ticket. In theory, you could be randomly asked to show your ticket, and if you can’t produce it, you are fined 40€. But I’ve never seen it happen. Sure, on the ICE train they check tickets, but on the commuter rails and subways it seems to be a very infrequent occurrence.

Anyway, I bought my subway ticket, transfered to another line, and popped out in the middle of Berlin. Now I’m not known for my sense of direction, but I had chosen a subway stop close to the museums, so it was easy to find my way to the “museum island”.

There, I went to the Pergamon Museum, which has exhibits of Greek, Roman, Babylonian, Islamic, and Middle Eastern art. They have a couple full-size reproductions of Roman and Babylonian structures. There was lots to see.

At this point, I wondered what time it was, I had spent quite a while in the Pergamon. I don’t have a watch, but had the cellphone Marco lent me. It seemed to have turned off for some reason, and when I turned it back on, it asked me for the PIN for the SIM card. Lacking that, I couldn’t even tell what time it was. The cellphone had suddenly become useless. Weird.

Undeterred, I then went to the Altes Museum nearby, which has a great collection of Roman and Egyptian art.

After that, I stopped at a snack stand and had a CurryBraut, a sort of German-Indian cuisine that was both terribly unhealthy and very tasty. The epitome of fast food.

Refueled, I went to the Berliner Dom. From there, you can climb to the top and get a great view of the surrounding area. I then climbed to the bottom, and walked through the crypt. It’s not a catacomb like I expected, but a large dimly-lit marble hall, filled with caskets. It looks like a vampire convention. All sorts of dead well-to-dos down there.

At this point it must have been after 6, because the cafe and gift shop were closed. I knew the Jewish Holocaust museum was open till 8, so I headed over there.

It was a bit of a walk, and I kinda zig-zagged through the streets, but I found it ok. It’s an interesting sight – lots of stone blocks, mostly the same height but slightly offset, arranged in a grid. The ground beneath them is of different heights, though, so as you walk through them, you get lower and lower until they dwarf you. Like some kind of walk-in 3D bar graph of despair. I was disappointed to find that the museum was inexplicably closed. Even without a watch, I was pretty sure it was before 8pm, I estimated around 7, based on the last time I asked someone for the time.

From there, I walked in the Tiergarden a bit, which is a big park in Berlin sort of like Central Park in NYC. Like the park in Frankfurt, it also has bunnies. After a short stroll in the park, I walked over to the Brandenburger Tor, the famous big gate of Berlin, which is the monument mentioned in my pinball game “Attack From Mars” when Germany is under attack (“The Brandenburger Tor is in danger!”).

There was a guy dressed in old-fashioned military garb, who walked towards me when I took a picture. He explained that his livelyhood was posing for pictures as Friedrich the Great, and that I would have to pay 1€ to take his picture. It seemed a reasonable price, so I gave him the euro, and he posed for another shot and gave me a couple postcards.

I stopped at a Dunkin Donuts (yes, in the heart of Berlin, right next to a Starbucks, no less) and got a “Mezzo Mix” soda, which is an orange/cola mix.

By this time I was getting pretty tired, so I began walking back towards the subway. I saw a sushi place on the way that I figured I would stop and eat at. However, I was unable to exactly reproduce my zig-zagging path, so it eluded me. I did find myself by a supermarket, so figured I’d buy some snacks, drinks and water, since water at tourist spots is quite pricey (2€ for a small bottle!). I browsed around, almost bought a boxed salad, but figured I’d grab water and beer first. I picked up some of the beers I had had at Marco’s and liked. While I was doing so, I heard an announcement over the intercom. Not knowing any German, I guessed the meaning was “we are closing soon, please check out now.” I hurried back towards the salads, but a store employee was ushering people towards the checkout registers, so I got in line. The woman in front of me was paying with what looked like airport food vouchers, and took a while to check out. I got my beer and water and quickly checked out. Apparently they don’t give you bags here, so I hurriedly stuffed it all into my backpack as they turned the lights off in the supermarket.

My bag was very heavy as I walked, and I was worried about the bottles crushing some of the items in my bag, but I hurried along because I was very tired. It seemed to take forever zig-zagging through street to get to one of the subway stations on the line I needed, but finally I found one. I hopped on the subway, transferred at a stop, and got to my stop. A couple blocks’ walk, and I was back in my hotel room again.

I put some of the beers in the mini-bar fridge (rather than drink the beer already in there, at mini-bar prices) and ate some toaster waffles Marco gave me. I flipped through German TV stations for a bit, hoping for something illicit and European, but instead getting mostly American things dubbed into German. BBC was in english, so I watched that for a little, then watched an episode of the American cartoon “Cat Scratch” in German on German Nickelodeon.

I considered going out to get some food, but by then I was really tired, it was already close to 11 and I didn’t know how long the subways ran, or how late places nearby might be open. So I cracked open a not-very-chilled beer, and typed out the day’s meanderings, which you just read. Now I’m going to put my socks and shoes back on, and walk down to the ground floor with my laptop. If the dining room is unlocked, I’ll set up there for a bit, otherwise I’ll, I dunno, sit in the hallway with my laptop, I guess.

I need to book a hotel in Munich, since I’ll be traveling there on Wednesday.

One thought on “Around Berlin”

  1. Wow, sounds like a long day! Sounds like you saw a lot of stuff though…do they have a place where you can see where the wall was? THE wall?

    mm beer for dinner…is this like the most beer you’ve ever had in your life? Maybe you will come back a beer-lover- then I can take you to the fancy schmancy beer place in noho….

    How are you getting on with speaking the language? Do most people speak English? Just curious…

    Hope you had a fun day today!

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