Day 7 – 4/27 – Berlin

At about 5:15 am I told Gavin it was “time to get off the train” we’d over slept. This of course was not true, our train would not be getting to the Berlin Zoo stop for another 2 hours and 15 minutes. Gavin mumbled something, I rechecked my watch, corrected myself, and fell back asleep.

Around 6:30 am the conductor came by knocking on cubicles waking people up. I was already awake, I just didn’t want to uncurl myself from the blanket, or risk my neck getting out of bed on a moving train. I eventually got dressed and joined Gavin in his little area.

Coffee came at around 7:00 am and Gavin groggily decided it would be a good idea. I opted to take a few large swigs of water instead. When 7:30 rolled around we got off the train at Berlin Zoo. Our first mission: find a ticket machine for the bus/subway and buy two 3-day passes.

That was easily done, next: find our hotel. Gavin asked me where our hotel was, and when I couldn’t tell him and told him to “just trust me, I know where I’m going,” I got a skeptical look. We got there the first time, and did not get at all lost. Now I can give excellent directions:

From the Zoo Bahnhof go towards the Burger King, past the erotic shops, keep going until C&A is on your left and H&M is on your right, cross the street. Go past the pubs, go past Hagen Daas, Dunkin Donut, and Hol in Whal. Turn left at the first street after Hol in Whal, the hotel is on the right (across the street). Very simple, don’t ask for street names.

Our room wasn’t ready for check in until 2:00 pm so we left our luggage and went to the internet cafe/Dunkin Donut for breakfast and e-mail checking. They do not offer wireless.

At 9:30 with clarified directions we headed off to Potzdamer Platz, Gavin had written a paper about it in German and wanted to see it. After Potzdamer Platz we (and two large tourist groups) went to Check Point Charlie, saw the little hut, still guarded by American MPs (wearing Kevlar under their uniforms), and walked through the museum.

We opted for an early lunch at “Snack Point Charley” and ate at “Checkpoint Pizza” for lunch. As we ate we pondered the best way to get to the DDR Museum. Leslie had raved about it and had given us vague directions and a little map that wasn’t quite like the surrounding scenery (we counted about three churches, she just mentioned one).

Ready for adventure we set out, map in hand, determined to find the DDR Museum. As we got closer there were a few small signs pointing out the way. It turned out to be as fun as Leslie said, possibly a little funner. Gavin (and I) grumbled about “revisionist history” and “idealism” but over all it seemed like a fun, interactive way to experience the DDR, and it stood in stark contrast to what had been exhibited at the Check Point Charlie Museum. I would say they balance each other nicely.

Our feet rebelled so we took the 100 Bus back to the Zoo stop. On the way we passed (in no particular order) the Bundestag (with its new glass dome to signify the openness of government), the Brandenburger Tor (no longer covered), the Opera House, the Concert House that looks like a possessed oyster, and a few other notable landmarks that I can’t recall the names of (I’ll have to consult the guide book).

We happily checked into our hotel room at about 2:30. Tired and stinky from our previous day’s excursions, the night’s adventures on the train and the day’s outings in Berlin, we were quite thrilled to be able to finally relax and shower. We napped, relaxed, blogged, read and debated what to do with the following day, our only real “full day” in Berlin.

For financial reasons we went to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was pretty good, free refills of 7Up, and a yummy apple cobbler for dessert. As we munched on onion rings, Gavin flipped through the DK Germany book deciding what we should see next/tomorrow. For awhile we’d considered a tour with the 100 bus, but Gavin found the Pergemon Museum and has decided that’ll be on top of our list (after breakfast and e-mail).

On our way back from dinner, I started walking the “wrong” way. Gavin was a little concerned, but I reminded him I knew where the hotel was and he was somewhat reassured. Gavin was quite excited by the furniture showroom and art galleries in the area near our hotel. He chattered quite happily about good and bad modern minimalist design. It was endearing, and a topic I could follow.

We opted for a quiet evening in, a nice change after late bedtimes, and lots of walking. I watched “The Jackal” dubbed into German… Gavin read his Nokia and declared that “movies should never be dubbed.” I agree, movies are better in their original languages, but sometimes they can be amusing.

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