So, it’s been several months since I last posted, because…well…I haven’t really been anywhere! Paris didn’t end up happening, thanks to those terrorist bellends scaring me into submission. I will go there one day though.
In the meantime, I had the chance to go to Berlin for work. Never one to pass up an opportunity for a free trip abroad, I promptly booked flights to head out there earlier than everyone else on Day 1. I wanted some solo time to explore and find my way around the city.
It’s a weird city. Beautiful, and blunt. It was also pretty empty; clearly, March ain’t peak tourist season for Berlin!
I was staying in the Cosmo Hotel, a lovely place in East Berlin that sat right on some kind of minor motorway, only 20 minute walk max from all of the sights I wanted to see. I wandered first to the holocaust memorial.On my way, I walked through a place called the Gendarmenmarkt, which houses the Konzerthaus, and two churches (one french and one german) They looked particularly AWESOME when lit up at night, and I must have walked through this square at least 8 times in my 3 days in Berlin.
The holocaust memorial is an impressive structure, and all the better when you get right inside it. The grim Berlin weather added to the atmosphere and I psyched myself up to enter the structure. I had only a few moments to wander through it and think about what it was representing,before some absolute DICKISH teenagers started running along the top of it, shouting, laughing, and generally being disrespectful to the point of being utterly cretinous. I was so angry. Like, proper rage.
Then, some small kids started laughing and screaming and running through it like it was some kind of maze. Not their fault, they’re kids…but there was no sign of their parents giving half a shit or trying to stop them, so I made a swift exit. I’d like to go back again one day when there aren’t are bunch of knobs ruining it for everyone else.
To calm my rage, I went across the road to a) buy a tacky shot glass (I get one from every country I visit) and b) find some sausage. Ahem. I sat outside a cafe, eating a hot dog and looking at the memorial. That was a nice moment. I also learn that the Germans have a penchant for Phil Collins, thanks to the cafe blaring out Easy Lover and Just One Heart, on a loop. Classic.
I got chatting to a german woman in a gift shop, and once she knew I was from London she COULD NOT stop talking to me about Princess Kate. Seriously. I held the conversation for about three minutes, and then I was out. I do not have more than three minutes worth of opinion on Princess Kate. She seems cool, she has nice hair..but that’s all I got. This woman was determined though, to engage me in more royal-related conversation, so I indulged her as best I could.
Next up? Brandenburg gate! A stunning, seminal masterpiece. There was a charming dude there dressed up in old fashioned grab, churning out old skool german music. Love that kind of shit.
From there onwards, I hadn’t really planned a route, so in a very uncharacteristic throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of way, I decided to just wander and see where the roads took me. I ended up finding the Reichstag, Berlin’s parliament building. What a treat!
I hear that if you book ahead, you can go inside and walk up to the top of the dome part of the building – I’d recommend you do that. I didn’t have time, but it sounds immense.
That marked the end of my solo time, as my colleagues started arriving and we embarked upon our two-day conference, BUT we did explore some touristy shit together which was also awesome, so I’ll include that too.
The Fernsehrturm is a television tower in the Alexanderplatz in central Berlin. It’s kinda like the German equivalent of the Shard. It’s 13 euros to get in and up to the observation deck and bar. It was a brilliant view, and amazingly drinks were reasonably priced up there (30 euros for 2 x beers, 2 x G&T’s and 2 x wines) Before you protest, that IS reasonably priced if you come from London, alright?
Let’s not lie, by this point we were pretty pissed so needed to find somewhere to eat quick-sharp. We decided to walk and see what we could find…which ended up being a pretty long moonlit walk from central Berlin back to the East.
We found the Augustiner, which was a traditional-style german bierkeller (except without the crappy benches, and instead has proper tables) back in the aforementioned Gendarmenmarkt. The staff were dressed up in bavarian outfits (YES!) and it mainly served sausage. The absolute dream. I had my favourite: a currywurst.
Let’s just address something right now – it was on this trip that I learnt of the German obsession with their pedestrian crossing men. Yeah, you heard. It’s insanely brilliant. They are called Ampelmannchen and I suspect they represent some kind of cult because there are representations of them everywhere you go.
They are on keyrings, magnets…all sorts of shit. And as you wander around Berlin, you see statues of them EVERYWHERE.
I mean…what…the…fuck. I love how random this is. Obviously, there is a reason behind the madness: I’ll leave you to read about it here, because Wikipedia can explain it better than I can. I find it fascinating!
Anywhoo, that sums up my trip to Berlin (minus the work-related bits, obvs) I really liked it. Would I go back? Perhaps not, although I wouldn’t object to it…and I WOULD like to have time to visit the site of the Berlin Wall. This was the first time EVER that I had got on a plane for a city break. Up until this point in my life, it has always been for a hot holiday. So this marked a bit of an important moment for me – thanks work, you made it happen! Plus…..SAUSAGE!