Or, more appropriately, Berlin: The City Of Graffiti. So we are back from our Berlin trip, and I personally am totally depressed by this return to reality. It's a shame fantasies can't go on forever.
Setting out on Friday we arrived at Heathrow Terminal 5 terrifyingly late (i.e. on time in normal persons "speak") and after checking in had a rushed breakfast at Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food. It was lovely, but not exactly stunning.
The plane journey was as pleasant as can be expected given my love/hate relationship with flying. Thankfully the journey to Berlin is only an hour and a half, so my nails were not bitten into nothingness.
We landed at Berlin Tegel Airport at about 11.30, and I was immediately struck by two things: 1) Berlin appeared to be stuck in the 1980s (not a bad thing) and 2) the German efficiency was in full swing here with passport control, customs and baggage collection all being down within 10 metres of the gate. We were out of the airport in mere minutes.
We got ourselves a 72 hour Berlin Welcome card which gives discounts on places to visit whilst doubling as a travelcard for the local transport. The place we were staying at was down in West Kreuzberg so we took the X9 bus and U-7 straight there. Berlin underground trains are so bloody fast! Gotta love it, none of that slowing down when coming to a stop either which makes for an exciting journey.
We arrived at Mehringdamm station, and it was just a short hop, skip and a jump to our place of slumber for the weekend. Which turned out to be an apartment belonging to two cats and their two gay pets. Andreas and Gall, Andreas being taller than me and Gall being a stereotypical bitchy queen. Our room, Hong Kong was nice but sadly was not en-suite. Good point in it's favour was that it was next door to a comic shop. We headed out after dropping our bags off and took a walk around the block before catching the U-6 and U-2 to Alexanderplatz. On the way there was a couple of goths on the train (I haven't seen a goth for years!), Jim tells me the guy had a collar and lead on and was lead off the train by his girlfriend. Berlin = mega cool.
After walking around Alexanderplatz, staring boggle-eyed at the ginormous TV Tower and searching for a donkey postcard (don't ask, don't tell) we decided to take a walk to Prenzlauer Berg, which was where Jim hung out on his previous trip to Berlin. It was also where Nettie, Greenwich's resident German, had given us some tips on some lovely little cafes to hang out in.
On the way I spotted my first Ampelmännchen, and got very excited. Following Nettie's marks on our map, we headed down Kollwitzstraße, where we discovered a Philately shop (that was two comic book shops and a Philately shop in one day, Berlin is like the land of Jae's dreams!) and several cafes. After criss-crossing the intersection at Sredzkistraße several times we decided to have a look in Zum dritten Mann, which turned out to be an Austrian restaurant.
It was, and I kid you not here, one of the best meals I've ever had in my life. My main was Wiener Schnitzel (absolutely divine with a gorgeous potato salad side) and dessert was Kaiserschmarrn, washed down with Radeberger, Absolutely amazing.
From there we headed even further east in search of a bar Jim had been to. We found it had been closed and replaced so went exploring. At the intersection of Dunckerstraße and Stargarder Straße, we found a little pub and decided to go in for a quick beer. As we entered I spotted the rainbow flag on the door and knew we'd made the right choice.
Thüringer Stuben is a very surreal place. A large cactus in one corner, a long line of bunny rabbits on one windowsill, toy vans on one wall, maps and pictures of the Free State of Thuringia on another. In the back there are animal skins and a large stags head hanging on the wall. In other places wooden flowers, mushroom ornaments and strange baby statues with apples for hats adorn the surfaces. All in all, it's an absolute delight place.
After a quick drink (a Thuringian lager "Wernesgruner") we returned to the apartment, pretty tired given that we'd been down our local until the early hours of the morning before heading for our flight, and a quick snooze quickly turned into an early night.
This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist