Monday, 2 November 2009

Berlin Part 3: Meeting the Wall

On Monday, after a quick skim through the Lonely Planet guide to Germany, I set out into Berlin. With no definite, plan, I got off the train at Potsdamer Platz and was excited to discover a section of the Berlin Wall still standing there amongst the glass and concrete skyscrapers. In Berlin, it's hard to avoid developing an obsession with the wall as you find traces of it, see art painted on it, read about it, learn about it and mull over its effects on the lives of ordinary people.

From Potsdamer Platz, I walked up to the Holocaust Memorial, a square filled with concrete blocks that looks like a graveyard. You can walk among the blocks, and the further in you go, the more they tower above you, gradually blocking out more and more above you until you find yourself in an eerie world where everything is grey and menacing.

After the Holocaust Memorial, I went to the Brandenburg gate, where I encountered this tasteless tourist attraction:

and watched these breakdancers, who were athletic, graceful and funny, all at the same time.

(To the music from Titanic)

In the afternoon, I met up with C and we went to visit the Reichstag (the seat of the German parliament). It's an old building but was reconstructed in the 1990s by Norman Foster and now has an enormous glass cupola in the roof that tourists can visit.

After the Reichstag, I headed to the Kreuzberg to meet my friend G, who took me to the actual Kreuzberg, which is a hill in a park where we watched as night fell over Berlin before heading back down into civilisation for Kaffee und Kuchen.

I met C and one of her friends for a drink that evening, but before that, I needed something to eat, so I went to the solo traveller's healthy fast food heaven – Subway. Normally I love Subway. Tasty food with lots of vegetables, exciting sauces and delicious soft cookies for desert (maybe not so healthy!) – what's not to like? Unfortunately I discovered that being too lazy to speak much German with Conny had its consequences – ordering a sandwich with a choice of 2 lengths, 6 kinds of bread, eight different sauces and all the salad you could want was a complicated process and I ended up with a soggy piece of bread with wet veggies falling out of it, half drowned in sticky onion sauce. Not the best meal of my life. (Luckily I went to a different Subway before I left and made friends with it again over a delicious toasted cheese sandwich with all the right salad and enough bread to hold the filling in.) The day finished with a delicious glass of Nero d'Avola (the best red wine in the world, wh
atever the French may say.

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