Berlin

23/05/2011 at 5:36 pm 2 comments

The journey to Berlin would turn out to be somewhat more eventful than Chris and I had hoped. Optimistically (or perhaps stupidly) the two of us had hoped that we could complete the epic voyage from Helsinki to Berlin within 36 hours. How naive we were.

The challenge began on the ferry from Helsinki back to Stockholm. Fortunately this time we did not have to put up with any drunk Finnish room mates which made the nights sleep a lot more pleasant.

Once again we enjoyed the all you can eat buffet, and I was more careful this time not to make any stupid food combinations. In the evening we headed to the bar and watched the World Championship Ice-Hockey Final between Finland and Sweden. Going into the final third of the match the scores were tied at 1-1, but then Sweden seemed to fall apart with Finland romping to a 6-1 victory. Needless to say this caused much celebration amongst Finns on the ferry.

We awoke early and headed to the buffet breakfast, knowing that we had to get off the ferry almost as soon as it arrived in the port if we were to make our connecting train to Copenhagen.

Following an expensive taxi ride to Stockholm Central Station we hopped on the train which we hoped would take us to Copenhagen. Unfortunately the train failed to travel all the way to its advertised final destination, instead stopping at Malmö and unable to travel across the Øresund Bridge due to “technical reasons”. Quite how serious these technical problems were I’m not entirely sure, but the train had so far taken us across the entire width of Sweden without any problems so I’m not convinced we were being told the whole story.

This delay would have a huge knock-on effect, meaning that there was not a chance in Hell of us making it to Berlin on the day we had intended. A delay of just 30 minutes meant that we would now be getting to Berlin a minimum of 14 hours later than originally planned. This was chaos theory in action, with the blame placed entirely on the Swedish rail network.

Fortunately Chris and I were able to make it as far as Hamburg where our good friends Jamie and Chris were able to provide us with somewhere to sleep for the night. In the morning we got back on the train and finished what remained of our epic journey to Berlin. Whilst the journey makes for an interesting anecdote it is not something which I ever wish to repeat.

Having spent most of the last two days stuck either on boats or trains Chris and I were both in need of a serious injection of culture, so having checked into the hostel we set out to see what Berlin had to offer.

We took a train to Alexanderplatz, which as the name suggests is a large city square full of restaurants and bars as well as a huge TV mast which towers over the whole of Berlin. From there we walked through one of Berlin’s parks which featured a statue of two of Germany’s most famous sons, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. A large group of tourists were all having their photographs taken next to the statue whilst doing a raised fist salute. How original.

From there we walked to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, arguably the Cities two most famous structures. The Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s only surviving City Gate. Originally an entrance to the City were money would be collected from traders. Largely destroyed during the Battle of Berlin, the gate has now been completely restored and stands as a monument to the City. The Reichstag too has been rebuilt a number of times during its history. It was last restored following the reunification of Germany and still maintains a traditional design apart from the glass dome on top which looks completely out of place. Outside the Reichstag is a small but fitting memorial to 96 members of Parliament who were murdered by the Nazis. Outside the Reichstag it was strange to think back to the dramatic and horrific events that happened on the very spot I was standing just 66 years ago.

The Brandenburg Gate. Berlin's last remaining City Gate.

Having wondered around the City for a number of hours Chris and I stopped to sample some traditional German Currywurst. Essentially curried sausage, it is every bit as good as it sounds. A large group of Sparrows had clocked onto the fact that we had some food. Although I suspect they were more interested in the bread than the curried sausage.

Late in the afternoon we headed to the Berlin Wall Memorial. The experience was fascinating and moving in equal measure. There are several sections of the wall which remain intact, and parts of where the wall once stood are now marked out by tall rust coloured metal posts. There is a memorial to those killed trying to cross the wall which features photographs of the victims. There are also two simple wooden crosses which serve as a monument to the citizens killed during the Battle of Berlin. It is a place you really have to visit in order to properly appreciate, as the words I write simply cannot do it justice.

A remaining section of the Berlin Wall.

Having had a very filling meal at a Mexican restaurant Chris and I headed back to the hostel where we met fellow travellers Ben, Nara and Kieran all of whom hailed from Australia. The original plan was to take part in a bar crawl around the City, but we spent too long drinking in the hostel and these plans quickly evaporated. The beer from the hostel bar was only €1 and at prices like that I would be been rude to turn down a drink. The night ended with the five of us heading to a techno/dance rave inside a warehouse at an abandoned train station, and yes, before you ask this was as cool as it sounds (perhaps cooler). It was light again by the time we left the rave. Evidently we’d all been having a great time.

For me the next day was something of a write off. Apparently too much alcohol had been consumed the previous night, meaning that I endured a very boring second day in Berlin.

Regardless of this the two of us had had an great time in Berlin. We’d met some great people in Nara, Ben and Kieran, as well as experiencing a vibrant City rich in culture and history. It is definitely a place I will visit again as there are still a great number of things which I would like to see. Perhaps I would be wise to drink a little less next time.

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Entry filed under: Germany. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

Helsinki Dresden

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alan  |  26/05/2011 at 10:04 pm

    Berlin sounds fab however if I go I think I may have to give the rave a miss. Is a techno/dance rave inside a warehouse the same as a garage ? I guess I will just stick to Bob Dylan
    A drunk and a muddled mind go hand in hand and result in many lost days.
    Take care Love dadxxxxxx

    Reply
  • 2. Thecoffeefiend  |  07/06/2011 at 11:51 am

    Drink a little less next time… Or stay for longer!

    Reply

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