Berlin Day 4

Thursday 21st August was our last full day in Berlin. We were quite museumed out so slept in, paid some bills and what not then went to find a food market and shopping street from the guide book.  On the way we went to have a look at the local street art murals and did a spot of shopping in the sute shops we had seen a day before.

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The food market was great and we had a yum lunch of burger and 3 little patties with salad. The best part though was the café we found down the road. IT SOLD REAL COFFEE!!!! They had pour overs and chemex and drip coffee and a real coffee machine and a real guy who knew how to use the real coffee machine – heaven. So we had a delicious coffee nom nom nom!

Coffee Syphon

Coffee Syphon

Post delicious coffee we went to find this shopping street, fairly sure we were in the right place but never really found it. Did however walk past a jeweler with his workshop in the shop front and bought a new pair of butterflys for my earning as I had lost one when getting undressed in Olomouc.

We then jumped on the underground and went to find an art deco style shopping mall which had a tower of crushed cars in it. The crushed tower of cars was quite cool and the art deco was indeed very pretty. The surrounding shops were rather expensive.

Tower of crushed cars

Tower of crushed cars

On the way home we found an icecream, settling for Movenpick when we couldn’t find anything else. At the underground station we had used everyday we happened to go up out of a different exit to normal and found ourselves in a department store of a more reasonable kind. More like a farmers than the Smith and Caughys we had found the previous day when shoe and shirt hunting. Funny that it had been there the whole time and would have been much more suitable!

Headed home, got changed, sorted out how to get there and get back and headed off to Reinstoff to eat Jourdan’s birthday present. Reinstoff has two Michelin stars and a description of modern, creative and superior. No clue what superior means but it was delicious.

Pre dinner drinks

Pre dinner drinks

We were very early to the restaurant so walked around the block and until we found a place we could have a drink. We ended up in the garden of a restaurant which was quite nice. At 7.20 we headed to Reinstoff around the corner for our 7.30 booking. We were the only ones there which was very quiet and strange. The restaurant was in a brick building and the inside had 3 boxes that opened to the inside. The kitchen and wait staff were all out of the room behind the boxes but could see in using the large mirrors on the back of the boxes. We were slightly unsure of how it worked but just went with it.

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Before we had seen the menu we were served four appetizers. Then we picked the “far away” menu as opposed to the “near” menu, just meaning that the ingredients were sourced from further away. We picked out 5 courses from the 8 on offer, as expected everything was absolutely delicious and we devoured every little bit of it. A fanatastic experience for our tastebuds!

AMAZING dessert

AMAZING dessert

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Berlin Day 3

On Wednesday, our third day in Berlin we headed to Museum Island with the plan of going to the Pergomuseum, Neues Museum and the Berliner Dom Church to get a good view of the city. When we got there the line for the Pergomusuem was ~4hours long – but clever us, we went to the Altes National Musuem where the line was super short and bought a Musuem Island day pass! Then we went back our, straight past the queue and to the man at a side gate, he politely informed us that the queue was not just to buy tickets to the Pergomuseum, it was to get inside. Oops. We had no intention of waiting 4 hours up to get into a museum so we went to the Neues Musuem instead as it had no line. The museum had Egyptian artifacts and other plunder for afar as well as artifacts dug up around Germany dating back thousands of years. It also had a free audioguide which was quite good.

War Memorial

Sarcophagi

Sarcophagi

Hieroglyphics

Hieroglyphics

Next we headed over to the Berliner Dom which is still on the island. Unfortunately we were turned away at the door as our museum pass did not include entrance to the Beliner Dom as our guide book had implied. We were a little bit peeved but I guess we should have more properly checked what was included in our ticket.

Berlin Dom

Berlin Dom

We headed off in search of some lunch and found a restaurant where you got given a tablet with the menu and ordered from it yourself. When the food was ready you took a little card from the back and collected the food. A bit new, at least the food was reasonably good.

Next up was the DDR museum, not included in our museum pass but relatively cheap at 4 Euro each, the place was packed with people. There were displays on what it was like to live in East Germany and East Berlin under the DDR. The displays were a bit more interactive than normal with doors and drawers to open to find information. On the whole a really good worthwhile visit.

GDR Fashion

A post museum icecream was essential, Jourdan chose an uncharacteristic citrus and raspberry flavours! We plopped ourselves down in the sun in a park just over the canal to enjoy it. It was a bit chilly, mainly due to the wind. It must be starting to feel cold to the locals as they all look like they are dressed for the middle of winter in Auckland. Like jeans, jacket and scarfs! So maybe not wooly scarfs but still a warmth inducing neck attire. People can probably tell we are tourists straight away from the shorts and t-shirt.

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Ice Cream

Ice Cream

It was about 5.30 by this time and we still needed to find Jourdan something to wear out to dinner the next night. The awesome suit he bought in Olomouc doesn’t really go with maroon chucks. Said maroon chucks were also looking quite grubby from days of wandering and the WUOC party. In the guidebook was a department store nearby an underground station so we headed there. First floor was the likes of Chanel and Armani, probably not quite the brands we were looking for. Upstairs in the menswear was still pretty pricy and none of the shoes in more of the right price range where suitable. The shirt situation was also no good. We headed out across the road to a less expensive looking shoe shop but didn’t find anything there either. Retiring to a search of the internet for what would be suitable for the restaurant we decided that cleaned chucks with new laces, jeans and a shirt would be fine. Purchased new laces at a grand total cost of 2 Euro and headed home via a bakery.

All the bakeries are buzzing with bees eating the sugar of the sweet goods, but no one seems to be bothered about it. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday we had the same thing for dinner at the apartment – mice, carrot, tomato and capsicum with bread and butter. A bit simple and was greeted with “Mmmm I love this meal” by the third night but super simple, quick to make and required minimal thought and planning.

Berlin Day 2

On our second day in Berlin we planned to do more wall related activities and head back to the art museum that was closed on Monday. In the morning we headed North from our apartment across Golitzer park and across the Spree to the East side gallery. On the way we went past some cool murals in the area between the river and the park. We might head back for some more mural hunting on Thursday. The eastside gallery is the longest section of the wall remaining and is covered in street art. Unfortunately lots of the street art is covered in graffiti also, most of which seems to be left by tourists. There were some cool parts, my favourite being the art work from Pink Floyd’s album “The Wall.” This was of extra interest to me as it was also painted onto the wall of the Year 13 common room at school. After walking the length of the East side Gallery we headed away from the river up to Karl-Marx Allee. This is a wide (90m) street in East Berlin that was built as a show piece by the Soviets. It has large apartment blocks on either side of it which are almost palatial in look. It was called Stalin Allee until a few years after Stalin died and the Soviets used to use it for military parades. We popped into a café which had a small exhibition on the history of the area to learn more. We then got onto the U-bahn and travelled up to the Berlin Wall Memorial. Again we learnt more about the history of the wall, as well as being able to view a reconstructed strip of the full wall system, including inner wall, outer wall, vehicle traps, goose neck lamps, guard towers etc. Having had enough history for the day we grabbed some lunch and then headed back to the Museum fur Gegenwart. The museum is in the old Hamburg Train station, which gives plenty of large space for an art gallery. Our favorite parts were the Andy Warhol paintings, a couple of works by Robert Rauschenberg and an exhibition of wall art. The wall art exhibition was very large taking up a wing of the gallery that must have been around 200m long. Of course the works were also very large seeing as they were on walls. To rest up a bit we went to the Prater beer garden which is the oldest in Berlin. Upon arrival we found it quite empty and seemingly overpriced, so retreated to a neat looking bar that we had passed on the way. After a couple of drinks we headed back home for our standard Berlin meal of mince, carrots, peppers and tomatoes on toast.

Mural North of Golitzer park

Mural North of Golitzer park

Spree Bridge

Spree Bridge

The photo of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev kissing, depicted as a mural in the East side gallery

The photo of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev kissing, depicted as a mural in the East side gallery

East Side Gallery - Pink Floyd

East Side Gallery – Pink Floyd

East Side Gallery - Colourful people

East Side Gallery – Colourful people

East Side Gallery - Fall of the wall

East Side Gallery – Fall of the wall

Karl Marx Allee

Karl Marx Allee

Memorial for people who died crossing the wall

Memorial for people who died crossing the wall

Reconstructed section

Reconstructed section

Australian version upside down, with Aboriginal Decorations

Australian version upside down, with Aboriginal Decorations

Wall works

Wall works

Berlin Day 1

On Sunday the 17th it was time to leave the Czech Republic and head for Berlin. Our day started early, we had to pack and get to the station for 0819. The train to Prague was 2 hours where we would get on our 5 hour train to Berlin. The intercity trains within Czech Republic are much more comfortable than the international trains run by the national train company! Once in Berlin we made our way to our airbnb apartment. We walked through what seemed to be a bit of a dodgy area, quite dirty, lots of graffiti people loitering etc. Eventually we seemed to turn away from this area and a block away was a bit nicer, which is where the apartment is. The apartment is very small. There is one room and a bathroom. The bathroom is within the main room, and on top of the bathroom is the bed which you have to climb up to. We were pretty tired after spending all day travelling so went to a restaurant nearby which turned out to be very nice. Our waiter was very welcoming and quite funny. He didn’t know why New Zealanders were called Kiwi’s, so we kindly educated him. The menu had some interesting things, like veal cheek and eagle fish. I had an asparagus and walnut risotto and Celia had a Goat’s cheese salad. Half way through our meal I pointed out to Celia that we had suddenly become vegetarian.

We had a small sleep in in the morning and then headed to a café right below our apartment around 10. Again a nice place with great coffee. After breakfast we headed to the main train station to get a Berlin Welcome card which gives you multiple days of free transport and discounts to attractions. It took a while to get to the due to a comedy of errors such as lines being closed and going to the wrong train station, whoops. Eager to continue our mistakes we walked up to the Museum fur Gegenwart (Modern art?), only to find that it was closed on Mondays. After the mishaps we were keen to do some actual sightseeing so headed down to the Brandenburg Gate and Parizer platz. In the atrium of a bank in the square is a really cool conference room. It was a cool design but was also interesting as it was a bit of a hidden attraction away from the busy square. We then walked south to the Holocaust memorial. The memorial consists of 2711 sarcophagi like concrete blocks of varying height on undulating terrain. It takes up a large space and walking through it reminds you of the scale of the atrocities that occurred. There is an information center/museum at the memorial but like the art gallery it was closed on Mondays. At this point it started to rain so we ran into a restaurant beside the memorial to shelter and get lunch. I had currywurst, sausage with ketchup and curry powder, and Celia had Bratwurst. When the rain had subsided we walked down the road to the site of Hitler’s bunker, which consisted of an information board. The bunker was demolished and filled by the Soviets. It was interesting to read about the bunker and see a diagram of where all the bunkers were in the area. They even had a bunker for cars and drivers. Next up was Potsdamer Platz where there were some wall sections and information panels. We then deviated from the line of the wall heading west to the Resistance museum. The main focus was attempts by high ranking officials on Hitler’s life, but there were also sections on other types of resistance such as youth groups and civilian figures. The museum was situated at the site of the execution of General von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators after their failed assassination/coup combo in 1944. After the looking around the museum we headed back to the wall at Potsdamer platz. Down a side street was an original GDR watchtower, again this was a little visited site so was nice to get away from the rush of tourists.

Brandenberg Gate

Brandenberg Gate

DZ Bank Atrium

DZ Bank Atrium

Holocaust memorial

Holocaust memorial

Wall Sections

Wall Sections

Stauffenberg memorial

Stauffenberg memorial

"Put your hand through my face and stomach and I'll do the same"

“Put your hand through my face and stomach and I’ll do the same”

Next on the list was the Topographie des Terrors which was a museum about the Gestapo, built on the site of the now destroyed gestapo building. At the front of the site was a long series of panels about Warsaw’s fate during WWII. This was something neither of us new much about and the story was presented well. We ended up reading it for about 75 minutes. We were running short on time at this point so only had a small visit to the Topographie des Terrors. On the way home we went past the world’s largest captive balloon and Checkpoint Charlie. I think the balloon was just a helium balloon tied to the ground which you can go for rides up to 150m in.  Checkpoint Charlie was the third Berlin Wall crossing point, an area where there was a standoff between Soviet and American tanks at some point in the 60’s I believe. Now there is a touristy Checkpoint Charlie cabin and a memorial/art work. The memorial is a light box with an American soldier on one side facing into West Berlin and a Soviet Soldier on the other, facing East Berlin.

GDR Guard Tower

GDR Guard Tower

Warsaw rising

Warsaw rising

Checkpoint Charlie from the West

Checkpoint Charlie from the West

Finally we stopped at the supermarket to buy some food for dinner, cooked it and wearily climbed up to our loft bed.

Vienna

On the 27th we flew from Tokyo to Frankfurt to Vienna. After getting our bags we geared up to find our apartment. We had some directions from our host and set off eagerly. When we got on the right street (StraB) we were feeling a bit lost when our host popped out of a phone booth, where he had just been trying to call us. He showed us to the apartment and answered a few quick questions before racing back to work (at 7:30pm on a Sunday in shorts and a t-shirt, no idea what he does). We headed out hoping to find a nice diner soon after, but eventually resorted to burger king in our increasingly tired state. 

On the morning of the 28th we headed out for a run which was a great way to quickly get orientated. We headed down past the Belvedere palace and touched the edge of the old town before heading back. After recovering from the run we went headed back into town to meet Rachel and Greta at the opera house to begin the days sightseeing. First of all we walked down to St Stephens Cathedral which has been under construction since ~1100. It was partly under scaffolding which was attempted to be hidden by the netting hanging on the scaffolding having the image of the part of the cathedral that it covered on it. It was a fairly touristy Cathedral, even featuring Samsung sponsored displays inside. Pretty but a bit strange. Next we headed just around the corner to see an apartment where Mozart lived for a few years. From the outside it just looked like any other apartment, so we took a picture to tick the box and headed on.

We then meandered through the town toward the Hofburg Palace and on to the Naschmarkt, where we had a Greek lunch. Along the way we took a shortcut through the University chemistry department. After entering a lift and deliberating for too long on which lower floor to choose the lift starts going up. When the doors open a student in a lab coat with a large measuring cylinder enters. He asks us, “Are you from the university?” Five people in casual clothes holding cameras? I don’t think so. Never the less he gave us directions to where we needed to be. 

After lunch we went back to the center of the old town and went into the Albertina which had exhibitions featuring the film Blow Up, Alex Katz of New York, as well as a donated private collection featuring Picasso and Monet. It was cool to see a Picasso painting from before the war, as well as one painted during the war (II). The description talked about how Picasso had to reign in the style of his paintings during the Nazi occupation. The painting from during the war, Still life with guitar, was a plain painting but featured a red sabre, a statement against the occupation. The Albertina also had some state rooms which were still decorated in the style of 19th century(ish). 

On the way to find dinner we went past the University, Rathaus and Parliament, which were all quite interesting buildings. As it turns out Vienna has a film festival running from the end of June till the end of August. It was an open air cinema in front of the Rathaus with a bunch of food stalls around it. It was a really lively atmosphere when we went past, about 3 hours before that nights film was due to begin. For dinner we tried to have Vienesse dishes, schnitzel, stuffed schnitzel and faiser goulash. 

Today (29th) we met Rachel and Greta again and headed out to Prater, which is a fairly large amusement park in the city. We got there around 10am and it was only just opening. The old wooden Ferris wheel was running but pricey so we opted for the newer, cheaper one to get a good view of the surrounding area. We then headed out to have a look at the Danube and an island which breaks the river in two for about 12 miles, which apparently is a great place to run or cycle. On the western bank of the Danube was another impressive cathedral, in quite a different style to the ones we had seen in the old town. On the inside it seemed to be recently refurbished. It was nice to have a look around a church which still operated as that, as opposed to the tourist attractions we had seen previously. 

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Celia’s Morning tea – Raspberry Bombe and a Beauty Coffee (Ice and espresso)

Growing weary we decided it was time for kaffee and kuchen. We managed to find a place with good coffee and cake, right on the main pedestrian mall, and for a good price too. We parted with Rachel and Greta and went to the Spanish Riding school where we had booked a tour. It was really interesting to see and hear about how they train the horses and the history and traditions that are alive at the riding school. Their tack room was a tad more organized than Celia’s, which you would expect when there are 72 stallions in your stables!\

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATack room at the Spanish Riding School

After the tour we headed over to the House of Music which was an educational museum about music. The most interesting part was a series of exhibits about the great composers who lived in Vienna, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Mahler and Strauss. Our ticket included entry to the Mozart Apartment so went there next. By this time we were growing a bit tired and we had already just heard about Mozart. We found that the museum in the apartment presented a lot of detail about Mozart’s life, which seemed especially unnecessary having just come from the House of Music. I would only recommend this attraction if you are die-hard fan. This evening we cooked dinner at the apartment and enjoyed some well deserved cold drinks!