Archive for the tag 'Germany'

Ich bin ein Berliner

August 24th, 2012

Nope, I am not a doughnut, and actually JFK didn’t say he was either.  But I have just returned from a lovely short break in Berlin.  Hubby was over in Poland playing with his “wee men” as he does every year, so as it was near our wedding anniversary (yesterday, 4 years – how time flies!) we thought it would be a good idea to spend a few days together afterwards in Berlin.  We seem to have picked the hottest time of the year, and there was a bit of a heatwave going on when I arrived (35 degrees is far too hot for me!) but it was still lovely.  So in the spirit of a show and tell, here’s some pictures from our trip.

We stayed at the DDR design Hotel, Ostel (DDR in case you were wondering stands for the Deutsche Democratic Republic, or the East German side to us) – it’s in a block of buildings and is totally refitted to be in keeping with cold-war era design.  Down to the fact there was no lift, TV or air conditioning.  But we didn’t realise it would be as hot as it was.  Or that we would be given a room on the top (6th) floor….

The room itself, like the rest of the hotel was really cool in its design – lots of mad wallpaper and original lights.

Our room

Instead of having a TV we had an original radio, although the only station we could tune into was one that seemed to only play English songs, and cheesy ones at that.  Cue lots of Phil Collins, Abba and Chris De Burgh.

I have to say despite there being no lift and you then being stupidly hot when you got upstairs, I loved it – it had a really friendly atmosphere and was incredibly cheap too.

Berlin was lovely; I had been before, and this time the only thing that spoiled it slightly was the sheer volume of building works that were tearing things up and making a noise and mess.  Saying that, in comparison to the UK, even the building works seem a lot more civilised and efficient.

The Berliner Dom was so pretty, and I love this picture with the Alexanderplatz tower behind it.  There was a cafe downstairs we visited to have a bit of a rest in that had the most gorgeous chocolate and cherry cake I think I’ve every eaten.  No pictures of that.  It didn’t stay on the plate long enough!

Museum island was pretty, although we left it a bit too late to have a proper look round the museums so we just sat outside in the fresh air and took in the scenery.

No matter where you are in Berlin you can’t escape the heavy involvement of the City in world history, although this period fascinates both David and myself, so it was actually something we had a look round rather than trying to ignore.  We walked through the Brandenburg gate and had a look at the Reichstag – look closely enough and you can see the repaired bullet holes.  As it was growing darker we walked round the Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe (above) – an maze  of huge concrete blocks of different sizes and heights, and with the floor undulating you can be waist height at one minute then the next the blocks are towering over your heads.  For me the most clear symbol of the situation was seeing flights of steps leading down to the underground museum at one point completely blocked by a slab of concrete.

We also walked round the Topography of Terrors which is built on land that was one of the main offices of the Third Reich (we know how to party don’t we?!) which still freaks me out – it’s beautifully done and is just quite factual about the atrocities that were committed.  The picture that spoke most to me was SS officers on a day off wearing party hats, whilst you were reading about the individuals and what they had done/ ordered.  Completely surreal.  We had also looked round the museum at Checkpoint Charlie which was fascinating, especially when it gets to more recent times where there are names I recognised from watching the news with my parents.  I wasn’t entirely pleased to see that the first shop you get to when you are on the American side is a McDonalds….we did nickname it McCheckpoint Charlie after that.

It really is a lovely city though, very friendly and relaxed (not like London!) – the trains were on time and efficient and with the help of the map we were easily able to find our way round, despite the fact neither of spoke any German (I only did a year of German at school because it meant I then didn’t have to take part in the bloodbath that was hockey, and I found strangely that didn’t have much call to tell people my name and that I have red hair.  Or find my way to the library).

On our final night there we found a little restaurant near Alexanderplatz that was so sweet, playing lots of very jolly 1920′s and 30′s music, and that served currywurst.  It wasn’t an expensive meal, and the place was tiny but I can’t explain how happy being there made me.

I told David I wanted to open up a European style bakery and cafe and became quite carried away with ideas for it (although we all know it won’t happen!).  I did, however come home with a mahoosive bottle of curry ketchup so I can try to recreate the meal we had….

Next year we don’t know if the wee men competition will take place in Poland again, or whether it will be in Germany, but either way we’ll be having a mini break attached to it again.  I’m hoping it will be in Germany again as I want to visit somewhere with forests and lakes and pretty cabins.  And where I can get a dirndl skirt too.  Though I somehow doubt I would be able to get David into some lederhosen! xoxo