In the morning we bought a 7 Euro day ticket each using the BVG app – like we should’ve done the day before instead of buying a load of individual tickets. Today we saw at least three ticket inspectors and I once smugly disappointed one of them by showing him the tickets in the app. I later heard that the fines can be quite large, so I’m happy we stayed within the rules despite the temptation to hitch some free rides.
We went back to the bakery near the Taverna Athene for a breakfast of coffee and croissants. I know it’s a bit French but when we booked the hotel we didn’t feel like paying the silly money they were asking to have breakfast included, so I’m not sure what constitutes a German breakfast – black coffee, cold meat and cheese I expect.
It was another gloriously sunny day and we started off with the intention of visiting the nearby Jewish Museum. However when we strolled up to the entrance there was a sign up saying that the main museum was closed for refurbishment with some areas open. I wanted to see the proper thing so baulked at paying anything for some lame-assed temporary second best. Policemen were noticeably patrolling outside so I resisted the urge to be angry about once more being thwarted from completing items on my mental bucket list by refurbishments.
We walked back to the main road and followed the elevated train tracks to the next station (U Prinzenstrasse) to catch a train to U Schlesisches Tor where we could enjoy a walk over the nearby bridge to the East Side Gallery.
East Side Gallery is an open air area mostly alongside a busy road displaying long sections of the Berlin Wall on which various artists from around the world have painted artworks of varying quality. The common theme is one of unity and liberty, with a little nonsense thrown in for good measure. The river Spree is close by and there are a few places to eat dotted around.
We chose to get some more currywurst (this time with fries) from a riverside vendor and sat listening to two buskers playing violins. There were a few wasps about but they weren’t too much of a pest, a few hawkers dotted around but they weren’t much trouble and there were some (probably illegal) dice or cup games being played for cash and some homeless looking drunks hanging around drinking in the sunshine. You could tell you were in the East of the city.
We then cheekily used the toilets in the iMax cinema and bowling centre next door to the Mercedes Arena where people with more money than sense were queuing for a dining experience involving dangling from a crane up in the air. Drop your fork and somebody might be injured below.
We then walked along the side of the spree in the glorious sunshine and over another bridge. We visited St Thomas Kirche which stood very close to the Berlin Wall interesting display of old photos of how it looked before 1989 with the no man’s land between two walls and a sentry tower nearby.
About five minutes later after skirting a park where some dubious looking folk seemed to be gathered on the benches, we came across the Bethanien Arts Centre which used to be a hospital and now seems to be a gravitational point for yoga enthusiasts and Buddhists. Then we got thoroughly disorientated and lost I guess you could say.
We got to see some of the more ethnic areas of the city and a quirky fountain. The unplanned detour included a misguided trip into the piss stinking U Schonleinstrasse station where a couple of crusty looking people were cooking up drugs on pieces of foil. I saw somebody do the same on a tram in Amsterdam once so it wasn’t a great shock but it did make me want to get out of this unknown and unattractive area ASAP. We didn’t recognise any of the station names on display so we went back up to street level.
Somewhat stressed at not being able to figure out where we were on the paper map we picked up from the hotel reception, I resorted to using good old Google maps on my phone. It took a while to figure out our precise location and direction but it has been very useful these past few days – especially for finding places to eat and drink in the evenings. We walked up Urban Straße onto Prinzenstraße and got a train from the opposite platform of the familiar U Prinzenstraße station to the stop near the Technik Museum.
The museum was charging a very reasonable 8 Euro entry fee. Before we took a look at the various exhibits we had some beer and cake from the cafe inside and relaxed our aching feet. Then we had a look at some boats, trains and aeroplanes and other techno shizzle. Again some of the museum was closed for refurbishment and the brewery section, which I was particularly interested in visiting, was closed until further notice.
At one point a fat women came striding toward me saying ‘was ist das! was ist das!’ when I had just come out of a doorway from some toilets under one of the engine rooms. My German isn’t so bad that I didn’t understand her but I was a little taken aback by her manner – she seemed rather intense and not at all friendly. Anyway I told her that it was just where the toilets were and then she strode off like some bear looking for honey.
I might have been imagining things but the museum seemed to be concentrated more on technology prior to the 1930s and only had a few WWII related items – as if they might be a little embarrassed to mention it too much. Any aircraft from that period seemed to be in pieces or parts of salvaged wrecks while the German navy fleet was represented by tiny miniature models displayed on sand in a series of glass boxes.
However that said there was a small submarine on display that looked distinctively militaristic and some dodgy looking rockets displayed in an out of the way corner. I was hoping to see at least one Messerschmidt but had to make do with a burnt out Stuka.
Railway enthusiasts might enjoy the two large engine houses and the large turntable yards. There were also a few steam engines and bits of rolling stock on display in the two big engine rooms. We probably only visited half of the rooms containing displays, but as with most museums or galleries, there’s only so much your brain can take in before it becomes as numb as your feet.
Afterwards we walked back on tired feet to S Anhalter and took a train to Brandenburg Tor. I think it was around 4pm and given the position of the afternoon sun this time of year, you would be pointing your camera directly into the sun if you wanted to take a photo of the front of the Brandenburg Gate. Alternatively you could take a photo of the naked man with an elephant head over his genitals who seemed to be protesting about something. Perhaps that someone had stolen his clothes?
We popped into Dunkin Donuts for more drinks and sugary treats. We had never been in one before and I don’t know about Siggy but, as much as I needed the sugar, I much prefer Krispy Kremes.
Then we walked around the corner to the Reichstag building. It said online that tours didn’t operate on a Sunday but clearly this was not the case as we could see people walking inside the transparent dome. it was a moot point anyway because the tour didn’t appeal to our tired feet. We put it on the list of things to do when we come back to the city and we’re in less of a National Lampoons European Vacation mode.
Then we headed back the way we came to the Crowne Plaza hotel for a much needed power nap and a cup of tea (still no biscuits, tut!). When we got off the busy train at S Anhalter we expected at least one or two people to follow us off, no one did. It was kind of eerie all of a sudden after the busy tourist areas.
In the evening we went to Mama Cook Vietnamese restaurant. I had a Franzishaner Crystal beer with slice of lime to drink. It was not as smooth as yesterday’s crystal. We had spring rolls to start which were deep fried and tasted like a cross between a battered sausage and a Findus crispy pancake – not good.
I had Garlic chilli chicken as a main which was not as spicy as I would have liked. Siggy had Chicken hoisin sesame which she enjoyed. I checked my phone while we were eating and found that we had walked over 25,000 steps today. I had kokos pudding – sloppy mango creme – and Siggy had hot bananas and ice cream. The bill was very reasonable but I have to say that, despite the nice decor, I thought it was the least interesting of the three restaurants we tried while we were in Berlin.
After we’d finished in Mama Cook we wandered down the road a bit but couldn’t find anywhere nice. So we back-tracked and went next door to Mama Cook’s to Piazza Papa Pane an Italian restaurant for drinks. I had a Konig Ludwig Weissbier Crystal -slice of lemon hoppy aftertaste on a par with first drink of the night. Siggy has been consistently on radlers for the trip.
The next day we got up early to get to the airport. We forked out for a taxi (just shy of 40 Euro) because I couldn’t be doing with the stress of using the railway system – plus the train takes about an hour from where we were with one stop whereas the taxi only took 25min (at about 6:30am before the Monday rush hour really got started).
The man at Cindy’s Diner inside Schonefeld Airport’s Terminal D took great delight in telling almost every customer that asked about them that the tasty looking burgers weren’t available until 9am – it was about 7am and as was becoming the norm Siggy and I had coffee and croissants – only this time I got some Nutella with mine. Woop!
‘What a shit airport…’ was a phrase I overheard which seems a little unfair compared to some Greek airports I’ve had the misfortune to visit. The highlight of sitting waiting around was watching a woman listening to her music standing dancing in the departure lounge. Dancing queen?