So day 1 in Berlin done and dusted. I must admit my first impressions of the city weren’t all that good. Our route from the airport was via a bus and a train. Surely the best way to see any city is via public transport. To say the system was antiquated would be an underestimation. The underground trains rattled along and were extremely square in design, not like the beautiful curves you see to most modern form of transportation these days. The subways were clean but very concrete and drab, nothing to liven up the walls, I suppose in many ways a hangover from a soviet era of functional building. The impression it left me was of a city that was badly run down and need of repair.
Arriving at the area in which our accommodation was in, was completely different though. We came up from the drab subway into a square (or a platz) with a giant ornate building in the centre, surrounded my roads with an amazing number of cafes and restaurants on them. People were flocking around and this seemed a world away from the city we’d just experienced. The area was quite obviously touristy but was a welcome relief.
We were a little early for our check in so decided to pop to the local beer cafe/restaurant to sit down for an hour and pass some time before our airbnb host arrived. We chose a spot we could see down the street so would know exactly when he turned up. The 500ml stein of beer was good and ridiculously cheap to someone who comes from Melbourne (4 euros, around $6).
We saw our host arrive on his bicycle and finished up and came to meet him. Lennard was a nice big German chap. Took us up to our sixth floor apartment in a lift that I wondered if it would get there. With just three of us in it, there was no room to move. The apartment itself is large and will be functional for us for the week, although the IKEA furniture, Lino, hard wearing carpet and rundown fixtures don’t so much shout ‘homely’ but more so practical.
After an hour or twos rest we headed out to explore the surrounding districts and wandered down to Checkpoint Charlie. Not that there is much to see of it left. The place was swarming with tourists, and in spite of taking a few pictures I don’t really think I got too much of an understanding of the significance of it and the gravity of the wall in the post war period.we wandered a bit further to find the old secret police building and a number of government buildings before heading back via one of the only open supermarkets (most shops don’t trade on Sunday’s).
Our evening meal was out at a restaurant called Madami, we both fancied something a bit different from the German fare because it was quite filling and we’d already had some for lunch. The meal was good, the food was tasty and we did wonder when we paid on credit card how come the bill went up 20% but we’ll test that in the coming days by using a variety of methods of payment.
We walked back home on a balmy night over the river spree and caught some beautiful shops of the building that almost seem to float on it. Once home, sleep came fast. My first really since leaving Melbourne.