River running through the middle of Berlin
Rather than subjecting ourselves to another night train, we flew into Berlin, also partly so we could be there for a Friday night as we had heard Berlin has some of the best night life in Europe. We got in a bit late (and a bit exhausted after our last few nights), so only had a quiet drink before calling it a night.
The next morning coincided with the first two of the Rugby World Cup quarter finals. Leah, who has outed herself as a true Hibernophile (a lover of all things Irish - yes, I googled that) and I got up far too early to head to the pub for the game and Leah left devastated after Wales pulled off an upset to beat Ireland. We didn’t stay for the England vs. France match but would be back for the following day for the All Blacks vs. Argentina and Australia vs. South Africa.
From here, we rushed as fast as we could to make the start of a walking tour, with a company Leah had raved about after visiting here several years previous. We made it just in time for a ‘Cold War’ walking tour and headed around
Brandenburg Gate #1
The symbol the East used to try and draw Western Germans in
various sites and listened to the gruesome and some truly absurd stories. One of the best is that up until 1973, West Germany did not recognise East Germany as a country. This meant that at schools, where there were maps, East Germany was left as blank, despite the fact most people could see over the wall to see a different country! Again the walking tour was really good and we saw the majority of the cool touristy sights of Berlin like the Brandenburg Gate and the Wall, both where there are still sections remaining and where they have marked the length of it in the ground as a reminder. We finished up the tour and we headed for something warm as the temperatures had definitely dropped since we left Budapest!
We met up with Clay who had stayed longer in Krakow before we ended up parting ways. Each of us wanted to see different parts of Berlin next and for some reason shopping for Birkenstocks was not top of my agenda.... I headed out to the Pergamon Museum which exceeded my expectations. They had a huge exhibit showcasing the Pergamon Altar which is decorated with scenes from myth and
The red sky matching the church
reality immortalising both gods and men. They also had a part reconstruction/part historical artifact of the famous Ishtar gate from Babylon. With my fascination of the ancient and medieval times, I loved this. There were various other artifacts dated over thousands of years old which I perused before being one of the very last to leave the museum as it closed.
After dinner, we headed to a recommended hotspot called 'Pong', which despite the unfortunate name was all about Ping Pong tennis. The whole night there were ping pong 'tournaments' where people took turns taking one shot and moving around until all but two people had stuffed up and they played a best of three final. Completely fun and random. Eventually though the fact that smoking was allowed inside drove us out and onto the next destination. Leah and Rachelle were having too much fun with the locals so Clay and I headed down town to check out a couple of other bars before calling it a night early in the morning with the All Blacks quarter final only a few hours away!
Somehow I managed to get some sleep before I was up and very early down
Here is another example of the stupidity. The underground tibe stops were passed by in Eastern Germany and the guards in Eastern Germany were discouraged from looking at the advertising on these tubes as they couldn't get the products anyway!
to the bar for the rugby - so early that I was literally the first person there! I grabbed the prime spot on the sofa at the front and sat through the warm-up of South Africa vs. Australia game before the main event, the All Blacks vs. Argentina. After a few heart palpitations thinking it might be de ja vu after the last quarter final 4 years earlier, the All Blacks pulled away and won comfortably in the end. Now I could enjoy the rest of my holiday! As Clay joined a walking tour, Leah, Rachelle and I headed down to check out the art on the remaining part of the Berlin Wall which was pretty amazing.
Next it was time to say goodbye to Rachelle as she flew back to London as apparently she has a job - whatever that is. Clay, Leah and I wandered down around the Jewish memorial and the Brandenburg Gate as it turned dark and tried to blag our way into the Parliament building but unfortunately the German's efficiency proved our undoing as apparently we had to book 2 weeks previous. Oh well, next time! And that was our short and sharp trip
Pergamon Museum #1
A scene from around the Pergamon Altar
to Berlin as Leah and I left Clay to enjoy one more day there as we headed for the picturesque Rhine River....
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