17/12/2009

Ich bin ein Berliner

Got home around 1AM on Saturday and I headed straight for bed. Laura had decided that she wasn’t tired and then LOUDLY pottered around the house. As it was a special occasion Maddy was aloud to sleep on the landing a decision I was regretting at around 2.30AM when a rather wet nose was sniffing around my face. She’d decided to join myself and Laura (who had actually started to feel tired at some point) on the bed she was in-between us, upside-down on her back looking rather pleased with herself... she was promptly told “OFF” and with some wriggling rolled onto her front and jumped off the bed... naughty beast...

4AM came and went and I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed and headed downstairs to make a start on my can of relentless, boy did I feel rotten! I only had 4 pints the evening before so surely I wasn’t hung over, I’ll put it down to purely the lack of sleep. My dad arrived and we were soon at Bristol airport, we checked in straight away and found somewhere to sit.

The flight was a mere 1 hour 40 minutes and I managed to catch 30 minutes of sleep or so. German efficacy was tested and passed with flying colours after passing through passport control I found our suitcase was on the carousel already. What should have been a short 25 minute ride on the S9 turned in to a real mission. The S9 should have run straight to our stop at Warschauer Strabe however they must have been doing some work on the line and the train terminated 2 or 3 times so we had to keep changing. Our Hotel Upstalsboom Hotel Friedrichshain was only a 5 minute walk from Warschauer Strabe and was easy enough to find, we checked in and got some directions to the Christmas Market (from the very cute blonde German on reception, something about the gruff accent does it for me) After finding the room we crashed for about a 3 or 4 hour sleep, showered and headed out for a walk, heading along Karl-Marx-Allee (Berlin gets dark around 4PM) by the time we reached the Fermsehtrum in Alexanderplatz it was already dark we followed a big crowd of people to one of the recommend Christmas markets (which was absolutely rammed full of people) we pushed ourselves through the crowd and eventually emerged on the other side of the market where we found a small bar selling gluhwein (Mulled wine) easily recommend to warm your insides on a cold night. We headed back to the hotel and found a steak house along the way, we asked our waiter in German if he spoke English and he looked absolutely petrified, being an Italian steakhouse Laura asked on the off chance that he may be Italian if he spoke Italian which to our surprise he did. So we spent the rest of the evening ordering three times... once in German to the waiter, once in English to Laura and than once again in Italian to the waiter. We went back to the hotel and crashed.

We did the bulk of our sightseeing on Sunday http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3370264 that shows the approximate route we took, it was around a 10 mile trip. Be careful are the map that was provided to us actually shows that Karl-Marx-Allee goes all the way to the Brandenburg Gate however Google maps tells a very different story, we tried to follow the route of the wall from the Brandenburg Gate (I didn’t have the actual route to hand so I just made up some path)

By Monday my feet were killing so we decided to make use of the excellent public transport, for €6.50 you could purchase an all day ticket that allowed unlimited travel around Berlin, we tried to make the most of it and went back to the Brandenburg Gate and also to the Reichstag. We managed to get to the Reichstag early (at around 9AM) and even by then we had a 30 minute queue to enter (don’t forget that’s on a Monday) I’d have to say for free it is a very interesting building to visit by the time we left (around 10AM) the queue was twice as long. We then visited one or two Christmas markets as we killed time. As it was our last night in Berlin we decided to look for a restaurant that was a little more authentic and upmarket and we took a suggest from our tour guide. The restaurant was in the back of beyond but we managed to find it (I say we... it was mainly me, this weekend break taught me that Laura is pretty useless with a map) I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, if I get chance later I’ll be sure to look it up and edit this blog. But the building looked very Victorian in decor, when we entered it looked very busy, it was only a small building with maybe 8 tables in total the smell was awesome and it looks really authentic, sadly we were turned away as we didn’t have a booking and would have to wait until 10PM to eat, if I do go back to Berlin I am going to be sure to ring ahead and make a reservation. We headed back to our hotel stopping off in the Hirsch Bar where I sampled a few German beers and had a bowl of Schwabische Maultaschen. The Hirsch bar was recommend by someone on travel advisor and I’d defiantly recommend visiting it myself.

We decided to take it easy on our last day, we checked out early and left out suitcases at the hotel. We would have had to have spent €3 on tickets to get back to the airport so we decided to buy another all day pass and went to see the East side gallery and also the olpymic stadium, both are worth seeing. We got to the airport 4 hours before our flight, mainly because of the trouble we had with the S9 on our way in but also because I didn’t want to have to travel when it was dark. We went straight to the check in desk and in what I can only describe as typical German fashion we got turned away and told that the check in desk will open at the stated time, bloody arseholes. We checked in on time and had an uneventful flight home.

I’d recommend anyone visits Berlin, it was very cheap and the people are very friendly and welcoming, and it is probably one of the few places in Europe I’d visit again. If I did visit again I would definitely stay in the same hotel.

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