Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

Everyone else on my tour has said that Berlin is their favourite city so far. But then, everyone else on my tour is Australian.

We arrived in Berlin around 1pm after a 5 hour drive from Prague, and had a two hour break for lunch, on possibly the hottest day I've experienced in the last four years. This combined with a hangover which I had earned in Prague. It was stinking hot, and so we all ran for shelter in the remains of a ruined church (bombed during WWII) and ate dunkin' donuts. It was a race to get back to the air-conditioned bus once we were finally allowed back on.

After lunch we were treated to a guided tour of the city, which lasted 3 hours. The tour itself was really interesting; we went to drove past Checkpoint Charlie, hung out at the Berlin Wall, and even saw the balcony where Michael Jackson hung his baby from all those years ago.

My problem was that I kept drifting off during the tour, and felt really bad for it as the tour guide was really lovely and not at all boring, but also because I was sitting right in front of her and trying desperately not to fall asleep where she could see me. I must have looked a sight. What frustrated me more is that I wasn't able to sleep on the bus on the way down, despite my best efforts. I hit the sack around 9pm, and got up 12 hours later feeling much better.

The next day I decided to head into town and spend some time at Checkpoint Charlie.

Checkpoint Charlie is the iconic (and for many years the only) border crossing between East and West Germany in the years after the wall went up. It was the scene of many protests and even a Mexican standoff, only involving tanks instead of Mexicans. Checkpoint Charlie was really interesting, and there was a lot of information available in an open-air walkway around the Checkpoint, which meant I didn't have to go to the museum. With the money I saved from the museum visit, I paid a guy to stamp my passport with an East Berlin stamp (I don't know – is that illegal?) and bought a piece of the wall to take home. It's likely only a piece of rock with a little paint on it, but for 1 euro it's realistic enough.

I think Berlin seems fun enough, and I'm glad I have a couple of days to explore it. I'll see if it's my favourite city so far or not.

Meanwhile here's a picture of a really cool church, which is ugly on the outside, but inside is stunning for its blue stained glass.

1 comment:

  1. Please don't get into any trouble. My friend in Uppsala is still talking about the crazy Newzealander who was there a couple of weeks ago.