27 April 2014

Berlin: Ost Oder West?

I couldn't get enough of Berlin, I was back on the U-Bahn at 07:00 am on my way to a hopefully quiet Brandenburg Gate! I was yet to learn that my itinerary would leave me exhausted and wanting my bed so I could sleep for a week, my kind of travelling is low budget! Berlin had one more day to bring it so I was determined to discover as much as I could! Zum Berlin!

Perseverance is the key! Nowhere did I see a single tourist making a mockery of this magnificent sight! I validated my U-Bahn card at 07:00 am on the dot so the photo captured to the left must have been snapped no more than fifteen minutes later. My hectic pursuit for a undisturbed photo of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate took me back to the time I woke equally as early to visit the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona for the queue to the basilica was just ludicrously long! I guess its called 'suffering for your art?' I loved it! Berlin definitely embodies a certain stature for the Brandenburg Gate is strong and also majestic at the same time, well metaphorically speaking. I admit the fresh and early morning air felt and looked so much better than the previous afternoon but as you'll find out in future installments of my Germany trip that certain parts of the country experience Anglo weather. That gate was amazing!

Ost Oder West? The title of this blog simply means in English 'East Or West?' Ja B! My morning of calm continued for I skipped breakfast and began to get to know the grounds around the Brandenburg Gate. I slept like a log the previous night for I must have been on the go for over 20 hours so I made the most of my nights sleep for that would become a rare commodity during my Germanic adventure. As I have become more familiar with staying in hostels I always make an effort to talk to fellow backpackers for its always a gamble because some people are less reluctant to talk than others. Thankfully a portion of my nine fellow dormers returned my introduction. I spoke to a few young ladies who were from America, so I had something in common to talk to them about. They told how American's have the highest student fees and I said that England seems to have its own problems really. It was definitely a meeting of minds! Berlin is where all the cool kids go! Like really cool kids!

The Tiergarten was calling me! With the morning still fairing to be quiet I made my way from the Brandenburg Gate, past the Bundestag, which is Germany's answer to London's Houses of Parliament. From the Bundestag I found myself amongst the greener pastures of Berlin's Tiergarten, a landscaped 'garden' that made me forget that I was currently in Germany's capital city! Making my way from the Tiergarten to a spot along the 'Spree' to take some time to think about my next move. I loved the view along the Spree it was just so European! Continental Europe has got it going on but us on the Isle of England seem to have something of that that's just missing?! Berlin's Tiergarten is a little pocket of calm in a crazy city! The Bundestag, that political centre gets the best of everything for the home of Germany's parliament looked future-proof with its ultra modern and new look buildings! Case closed! 

Berlin wasn't going to be my only destination, for I had plans to see Hamburg and Bremen before my flight back to England. I had my tickets booked for a super quick train that was bound for Hamburg Hauptbahnhof early the next morning so I wanted to be sure about what my morning would entail before I would board my Hamburg bound train. I could see the top of the grand looking Berlin Hauptbahnhof from where I was sitting along the Spree in the Tiergarten so I only had a short walk to reach its glass frontage. I made sure I knew where the platform would be for my train and decided to grab a bottle of Becks beer for breakfast! Germany has a great law that drinking an open bottle or can of alcohol is completely legal and above board, but I stayed in the station with my morning bottle of Becks. You might be thinking 'oh he hasn't even eaten yet!' Well that was true but there's always a trusty McDonald's nearby to have breakfast! When in Berlin these things have to be done! 

Berlin are you East or West? That's the question! Back on the U-Bahn to Berlin's Wall Memorial to find out more about the most talked about movement in time that pretty much everyone remembers, I wasn't born until 1990 so I wouldn't have remembered the fall of the Berlin Wall so it was a learning experience. 1961 was the year that Berlin was separated by a very infamous barrier that made a new divided Germany with an East and West. I took some time to walk along the Memorial path to see where the wall would have stood back in the day of Germany's partition, I was taken aback with all what had happened so it was sobering to see a reunified Berlin and Germany. I read along the Memorial path that tunnels were dug so people could escape to the East to hopefully vacate Germany for good. I just couldn't begin to imagine how life would be like to live in a parted country?! You know I'm no bucket 'n' spade person!

In many ways we can look to North and South Korea, two countries that used to be one but with conflict and war I guess reunification won't happen at the pace it took for Germany to reopen its East and West border as one? Let's allow the Korea's to get on with their struggle because its all about Berlin right now. I guess it must have been before dinner time before I had took a break to chill out for a bit but I just moved on forwards in hot pursuit of another Berlin sight. From the Wall to the serenity of the Tiergarten I really felt like I had seen a lot in Berlin for the short time I had scheduled for that trip, I'm not one for shopping so I find it so much better to see as much as I can that doesn't involve spending too much money. Berlin has a vibe that's too good to bottle up and take home for later, I know getting my uni work done to at least 95% before leaving for Germany was worth it because Berlin gave me the chance to forget about that stress for a little bit! The last trip!

Finding one more thing to accomplish before dinner time had to be a visit to Berlin's former Tempelhof Airport, which holds a link with Germany's Nazi past. I just looked at map and made sure I could get the train there, it was definitely spontaneous I tell you! The weather was just lovely with the sun shining as I walked through the airport park! Berlin-Tempelhof Airport's vast airfield now acts as a huge park with the runways and taxiways used for cyclists and rollerblading and I tell you its an impressive space for sure! A picnic could be enjoyed within the limits of this former German airport. Berlin's newest Airport hasn't even opened yet so the pressure is very much on for Brandenburg Airport! No? The airfield has now been fenced off from public use, reportedly used as a film set!? Will there be a new airport Berlin? I hope so because Berlin's Tegel Airport did look tired. Thank you Tempelhof!

Partying wasn't on my mind, I met my friend from university for dinner by the Berlin Zoologische Garten, whilst I waiting for Nadine I found another Dunkin' Donuts but they didn't serve Texas Toast! I had not seen Nadine for a long time so it was great to catch up and see where each of us had achieved since the last time that we saw each of other. After meeting at the U-Bahn station at the Zoologische Garten we headed to a lovely street side restaurant that was located along Kurfurstendamm. I chose the Salmon and Nadine chose the Pasta, I really enjoyed my food and I'm sure Nadine enjoyed her meal. I would have to say that having friends in different parts of the world is a great thing! I had a great time catching up about our experiences of student life in Birmingham to conclude my Berlin segment of my Germanic trip. I knew that my next day would have a very early start so me and Nadine said goodbye. Nadine, thank you for being so gracious! I owe you!

Berlin Is Now!

Joseph Harrison

No comments: