Archive for March, 2013

17
Mar
13

boozing in be(e)rlin

Trip number two of three of spring 2013 has been and gone; Naomi and I found ourselves in the historic German capital city of Berlin. We booked up four nights here for no other reason than Naomi had a few days to book off work and I’m never one to turn down a chance to visit somewhere new.

I’ve been to Germany before on what can only be described as ‘one of the perks of the job’ – a week at an Aerospace Exhibition with work to the marvellous Bavarian city of Munich. Incredibly this was some four years ago, and was around about the time I had been well and truly bitten by the travel bug. I’d had a month in India a few months before and a Caribbean double header a few weeks before me and my boss took off for a week of, ahem…….business.

Anyway, enough of that before I get sacked.

Berlin is the favourite city of one of my travel buddies that has appeared many times on this blog – Fred. For someone as well travelled as him to announce this is at the top of his tree means it must be good. I’d go along that this seems a very decent spot to spend a few days.

Our first day was spent chilling out – a long beer fuelled lunch at the imported ‘Hofbrahaus’ (a Bavarian beer hall that’s a bit of an institution in Munich) that has opened a secondary home in Berlin. It proclaims to be the biggest beer hall in Europe. I can’t testify to that but can agree that the one litre beers they serve in extremely heavy glass tumblers bought to you by women in traditional Lederhosen is all a bit of good fun. Chuck in some traditional German live music and you get a cracking spot to while away a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon.

After we’d finished off our lazy lunch we ventured round the corner to the 326ft high ‘Fernsehturm’ – or TV Tower. For just 12 Euros and a half hour wait you can get a lift up to the observation deck some 203ft above the city and gaze over the expansive skyline over one of the world’s most famous cities. From both the inside and outside Berlin’s tower was almost identical to the one I’d visited in Kuala Lumpur called the ‘Menera Tower’ – though a quick look back through this blog tells me Berlin’s tower is a good 100ft shorter than Malaysia’s effort.

We went up at a time that would ensure we would see the sun go down – which would have been all the more magical if some locals wouldn’t have been blocking the view by standing at the front of the observation area, clicking on their facebook and changing songs on their ipod as opposed looking up and watching the sun go down. Wonders never cease sometimes – spend 12 Euros to go up during sunset and not actually watch the big orange thing in the sky disappear because you’re more bothered of what your mate Dietmar is doing down the local pub thanks to your facebook or twitter news feed #idiocy

That’s the first time a hash-tag has made it onto this block in some 77,702 words but I’m thinking now is as good a time as ever to introduce it.

Our second day was spent hiking round the touristy sites that make up a big part of this city’s history. The remnants of the Berlin Wall just down the road from the Brandenburg Gate were, for some reason, covered in chewing gum. I didn’t notice this but Naomi, photographer’s eye for detail and all, spotted this idiosyncrasy straight away. A quick stroll to the Brandenburg Gate was interrupted by a look round the 2000 odd concrete pillars that make up the cities Holocaust memorial. It would have been a better place for reflective moments were it not for an Irish tour guide sitting down on one of the pillars, giving a lecture to his tour party about the ins and outs of the Holocaust. It just seemed a little disrespectful to us to be sat down on one of the memorials whilst telling tales of the atrocities.

After a walk round the impressive Reichstag building and a few snaps of the Gate, we headed south on the brilliant U-bahn underground tube to the cheap and cheerful part of town called Kreuzberg. This was my kind of borough – plenty of ‘real’ bars and restaurants with a spit and sawdust feel to the area. We ironically ended up in a Thai restaurant for lunch (you can take the girl out of Asia etc) after the place I found online was closed until later that night. It was actually quite difficult to decide where to eat in Kreuzberg because there were so many options.

We came to Kreuzberg in the evening and had a cracking traditional German feed at a restaurant called ‘Max und Moritz’ – the Viener Schnitzel (OK I know, that is Austrian) was superb, as was Naomi’s roast pork. If you are ever in Berlin make sure you come to this part of town, I wish we had a few more days to explore Kreuzberg and its nightlife.

Our last day was a bit of a non-event until the sun went down. We jumped on the tube to try and find a big palace called ‘Schloss Charlottenburg’ which was a good fourteen stops away from our U-bhan station of Spitlmarkt. We were both a bit tired and grumpy (hey, these things happen sometimes even when travelling) and ended up having a pastry and a cup of tea in a local café. After a half-hearted walk up and down the main road we declared ourselves ‘lost’ and deciding to head back to the hotel! Spirits were soon picked up by the presence of a man selling German sausage outside Spitlemarkt U-bahn….simple things etc!

The last night was awesome though – back to the Hofbrahaus for some Friday night beer drinking along with what seemed the rest of Berlin. I reckoned there must have been over a thousand people in the bar, all sat on the shared wooden tables drinking litre beers and eating fine German grub! It was a great atmosphere to be in, the band were playing and spirits were high all round.

Berlin was a fine city – as ever, when rating a city I simply ask the question would I recommend it to others? The answer in this case is a big fat German sausage of a ‘yes’!

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