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First we take Manhatten .. December 8, 2006

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Travel.

I love Berlin. I first visited in 2000 just after I got divorced, significant as a period of clearing my head but I had such great memories of a boys weekend ‘into the East’.

I am staying with my Sister’s Boyfriend who lives here. Bernd is German who speaks English in an Irish American accent, he is the perfect host, and his £25k appartment on the Border of Mitte & Wedding is amazing – I want one & have added it to my Xmas list! How an apartment like this can be so cheap in a major city I will never know .. I can see the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz from the balcony whilst still smelling the multiple vines climbing up the external walls. 

My trip out was a breeze. Flight left on time, arrived 30 mins early (I didnt think that ever happened?) .. the train into the City was easy, quite communal in fact, the friendly Violinist sitting next to me lives in London and Berlin (I like that idea) and pointed out all the latest attractions to see & even wanted to point me on to the correct U-Bahn at Friedrich Strasse. I didn’t need it and was the A1 boy scout in getting to Bernd’s door without a map.

Weds night we a bottle of Rose on the balcony, which being just 100 yards or so from where the wall used to run started my fixed grin that still lasts till now. We then headed out .. now the whilst my previous visit was great fun, the one area we messed up on was nightlife, managing only to find a fetish club and a Scottish bar of note .. this time though I had inside information.

We headed out to Oranienburger Tor, and the former Squat turned uber trendy bar/cafe Zapata. Acres of concrete, graffiti & welding as well as punk rock and kitsch pop .. oh and some very very nice cocktails and white beer .. even the prostitutes lining the street looked happy and healthy, it’s like a social experiment gone completely right.

It was a great night & really nice to chat to Bernd. We arrived home at about 3am, cocktailed out & having been waved goodbye with a smile, Bernd having to go to work the next day .. yesterday morning my head hurt a little ..

Yesterday I planned my itinerary to the wire .. Up and out and sipping herbal tea outside Friedrich Strasse by 10am. I started with some souvenir tat shopping on Unter Den Linden, the great Berlin Story Store has way too much Cold War, Berlin Wall & WWII for me to cope with in one sitting so I spent a small fortune and will head back later in the weekend.

It was a really bright sunny day and I was skipping along the sights. The Holocaust Memorial was first, not as impressive a sight as I had expected, but obviously a moving thing to comprehend & it has an appeal that I think will last – it would be great for kids, but that’s not its main aim I am sure.

A very long walk followed, it looked close on the map, but the Bauhaus Museum was about an hour away as it turned out, but there were enough sights and sounds to pass and a really pretty stretch of river to walk along .. ideal for a romantic winter stroll .. and even better for clearing your head.

Wasn’t as interested in the Museum as I expected, lots of documentation and less exhibits than I thought, but the Mies Van Der Rohe content and pre-cursor to the Barcelona Chair made it worth my walk.

I then headed largely on foot to the East Side Gallery, the longest stretch of the wall that still stands. Mr Ektopia would get very aroused at the prospect of a mile of grafiti potential & it is a sight to behold. The punked out artsy shop situated there was neat too .. no sign of capitalist greed there.

By this point I was knackered .. I had walked way too many miles and had started singing Proclaimers songs, delusional, I knew it was time for a coffee.

The last stop was Bernauer Strasse, the location of the Wall memorial – go there if you ever come to Berlin. They have a stretch of the wall and death strip in tact and poignantly this was the area that got divided, literally, by splitting houses .. the church that got walled in and the people jumping from windows on the news reels was all in and around here. I think I can understand the anguish that must have gone on in 1961, the family dilemmas of whether to run before the wall was finished, but it’s not till you read first hand or view the still and video archive in the museum that it hits you again. A fascinating place to visit and the viewing gallery on the roof gives a brilliant shot of the wall section and memorial garden.

After being advanced boy scout and walking home from here, I died on the sofa with BBC World and my book for a little while before heading out for the evening. Bernd had planned a trip to one of the Xmas Markets .. a huge square framed by Opera House, Cathedral and two neo gothic columned structures, drinking Gluhwein (multiple) and taking in the sights .. it was so gorgeous.

After too much wein, warmed and slightly giggly, we headed to a Tapas Bar in the Arches below the S-Bahn at Hackescher .. inside info again and well worth the trip, great food and a bottle of wine for about £12 each. Your plates rattling as the S-Bahn clatters overhead.

There is so much to do here it hurts. Now setting out for Day 2 solo before my sister gets here today from Warsaw – looking forward to that .. we may be going on a Cold war Bunker tour that’s just opened .. Mmmmm, maybe I could learn Violin and divide my time ..  



1. Apathy .. « STaGediVe - June 26, 2007

[…] also paid a visit to same resturant and club combo from my last trip there, Zapata and Vicola, which translates to a hip former squat come music venue and a vibrant […]

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