Berlin to Amsterdam

Air Berlin was so nice.  I dozed my way from Vienna to  Berlin on a short flight and with some further assistance, found my way to the right bus.  I find buses harder to understand than the U-bahn (underground).  Turns out my hostel was very centrally located to a main drag, Friedrichstrasse and after Monday afternoon I knew my way back easily.

Monday, since I arrived so early I couldn’t checkin to the room, so I left my luggage at the hostel and plotted a route to the Brandenburg Gate, or Brandenburger Tor on the map.

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I didn’t know it was surrounded by all the embassies! So many guys with guns hanging around.  I feel like that wasn’t the smartest decision for the embassies, to pick a spot, that yes is historically important, but also such a huge tourist draw.  Seems unsafe. They did it anyway.  Canada’s is a little further over on Friedrichstrasse.

After the Gate I followed street signs over to the Holocaust Memorial.

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It was designed to give a suffocating silent feeling the further inward you go.

Stumbled across the Berlin Mall, which was fascinating. Just like at home pretty well every city has the same stores.  And a plethora of shoe stores.  Which makes sense considering how much walking and being people do over here.  I can’t resist buying leather shoes when in a store, they have my size! And I needed new flats anyway. I also do the most boring thing and eat at McDonalds when I have the chance.  It’s perfect for travelling in a foreign country because a) they have touch screens to order on (no talking to someone who doesn’t speak English), 2) I know their food won’t mess with my stomach (this is important when many public washrooms charge!), and lastly, they have free wifi.  This is the perfect place for the travelling Sarah.

I returned back to the hostel to checkin, regroup, and plan the remainder of my time in Berlin. Flat hostel beds are killing my back though.  Every morning I get up and ten things crack.

On Tuesday I decided to visit Mus sum Island, Alexanderplatz, and Checkpoint Charlie.  Checkpoint Charlie was first, because nothing else opens until 10 and that’s just too late in the day for me already.  It’s a straight shot down Freidrichstrasse and rather mundane.

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But I went, I saw.

Then I ventured to do more shopping in Alexanderplatz.  Turned out to be less fun than the Berlin Mall.  Perhaps because so many of the stores are repeats, and also a lot more spread out.  So I ate at McDonalds and found the leather jacket I should have bought in Salzburg but didn’t until Berlin.

Off to Museum Island, the research and signs everywhere noted that the Pergamon and Bode museums are undergoing major renovations so the most interesting exhibits were unavailable, which made it easy to just go to the Altes Mueasm, Roman and Greek art or cultures who had a thing for each other.

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The Belin Dome, a church I did not pay to go inside of.

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And other old stuff.  The audio commentary was quite interesting though.  Spent a few hours there.

On my return walk to the hostel I finally had the most wonderful foodstuff ever invented.  Currywurst.  This delectable frankfurter is lightly doused in curry powder and drowned in ketchup.  SO GOOD.  New favourite food.  I’m unapologetic in my love for tasty, yet mildly boring, street food. I had it again on Wednesday, but with a lovely side of French fries.  These people get me.

Anywho, Wednesday, last full day in Berlin and of course I had to walk through the Tiergarten.  On my way to the Zoologischer Garten.  Tiergarten took over an hour to walk across, the long way, naturally.  I knew that but it’s still a huge inner city park.  And beautiful.

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I arrived at the zoo shortly after 10 a.m. A good time to be there is the middle of the week, not so many people.  The zoo itself doesn’t feel very large, but they have a variety of animals.  Which makes you think about whether it’s moral to keep animals in cages.  Probably not.

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It was also really hot so some animals were hiding in their cooler locations.  Also if I want to see wolves I can do that at home.  They’re down to one polar bear, which is kinda sad, since Knut died.  Gonna say, the Detroit polar bears were better looking.

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And the Giraffees were SHORT!  Must have been a Pygmy or dwarf variety, shucks.

Lest you think I was disappointed I wasn’t.  It was a lovely park to walk around and sit and watch the kangaroos hump.

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The gardens were breathtaking.

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I had thought about finding more sections of the Berlin Wall to look at but my feet were making it known that I should stop.  The round trip from Hostel to Zoo and back is just around 10 km. Combined with the previous day’s long walking tours my feet were tired.  I’m not sure why it’s harder when walking that it is when running.  Too much time to think about it?

Thursday (14) off to Amsterdam. It was a rainy morning leaving Berlin.  It’s not the first time I’ve lugged my backpack around in the rain and at least it was lighter rain than Scotland.  Finding the Hauptbahnhop was easy enough, finding the platform a little less so, surprisingly I ran across more people working there who didn’t speak English, in comparison to Frankfurt where it was super easy. Regardless, am now on a train to Amsterdam so it all worked out.  Really looking forward to the whole purpose of my visit, the Van Gogh museum.

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