23rd December 2016 - 2nd January 2016
On the morning of the 23rd we pack all our warmest clothes and set off for Berlin. Our taxi driver was doing the big dip on New Year’s Day, this event is on the beach near us and consist of dressing in fancy dress and dipping into the sea for charity, they must go in up to their chin!! Sometimes the water is as cold as 3 degrees. We made a donation to the good cause and wished him luck. At Gatwick, I ate a sandwich (I have already vowed not to eat at airports) by the time we got to Berlin I was in a bad way and while I was first off, I could not explain to the migration official that I needed to go through and come back for Ross whose passport I had. They kept telling me to wait for him and I kept saying not a good idea. Anyway, long story short I made it. We got to the hotel and I took to my bed. The next day I felt a lot better but weak (you must also remember I am the biggest wuss in the world and take to my bed with a broken finger nail!). We went to the airport by train to pick up Ryan my nephew. We got on the wrong train after being told twice it was the right one; but not that we should change. We had a lovely trip into the country and a taxi back to the airport!! It was great to see Ryan.
Christmas day was fun we went to the Christmas market. I cried when I saw the candles and flowers laid out in patches all over the market. There may have been one for every person killed. We had some gluhwein and sausage to warm up and cheer up a bit. The market was not a busy as expected and everyone was very subdued. I am told this is a very touristy market but I was impressed, I do love all things Christmas. Christmas dinner was a little of a disappointment as we had schnitzel in a German bar style restaurant it was great food but not turkey. They were doing a Christmas menu and we could have had goose or duck. I am not a great fan of goose!! (long story some of you know) and have had lots of duck so schnitzel it was.
Ryan was leaving the next day so we did some sightseeing around the Brandenburg gate area in the freezing rain, put him on the correct train to the airport and went to our hotel to get warm and dry.
Andreas and Carsten were back in town so we had dinner with them after a day of sightseeing. We visited the Dome Cathedral a most beautiful building, we were there in the middle of the day so heard the organ play it is the oldest organ in Germany. I do like organ music it is so relaxing. It is so easy getting around Berlin on public transport we got a 5-day transport pass and were very lazy using it to travel the one station from our hotel to Andreas and Carsten’s place. Dinner was a great Chinese very authentic. The service was a bit hit and miss as there were not many place’s open so it was busy. We did not mind at all, as it gave us time to talk and drink.
A very big breakfast with Victoria and her Berlin friends, Victoria was in Berlin for a few days. She is in Germany visiting her parents who live in Munich. It was lovely to see her and catch up with the news from home. Annie and Axel (Victoria’s parents) sent us some Christmas biscuits, Thank you, they did not last long!!! We then spent a couple of days eating, sightseeing and generally enjoying Berlin. Plenty of stops to get warm and drink Chocochinos my new favourite hot drink. A visit to KaDaWe not to be missed, nothing purchased still expensive even with the sales on, but we had a fabulous bouillabaisse lunch with a nice glass of Sancerre. Very pleasant. A lovely family sat behind us 3 generations, they were at the table a few minutes when grandpa started fishing around in his mouth and much to everyone’s embarrassment took out his teeth and handed them to eldest son!! I had a great laugh good for him they were probably uncomfortable.
New Year’s Eve and off to Andreas and Carsten’s for Dinner. We had already decided to have an easy meal which we could graze on all evening, this worked well, we ate then watched the classic film “Dinner for One” a tradition in the house, then more food and on with all coats and gloves and hats, on to the balcony for 12:00. Well I loved it, fireworks had been going off intermittently for days but at 12 the church bells all started ringing and the sky just lit up. Fireworks were going off from both ends of the street, in the street in front of us and they went on and on and on. It was completely anarchical. We had our dessert and about 1:15 we were allowed to leave as it was deemed safe to do so. Even so we saw lots of people still letting off fireworks none in our direction though. The fireworks went on all night. Every time I woke I could hear them in the distance. Sydney’s fireworks are spectacular, but Berlin’s are exciting and great fun and just out of control. The streets the next day were all ankle deep in firework litter.
Now I have to tell you - both Ross and I purchased hats in Berlin to keep our brains from freezing. Ross got the ampleman hat (the little man who sees you across the road). It is a little touristy but acceptable. My hat which I am intensely proud of, is I am told the hat a girl stops wearing at the age of about 12!!! Well I love it and so what if it has a bobble on top.
We have checked out a few apartments to live and are planning to be in Berlin May, June, July. We must get organised soon before the prices go up any more. Or all the apartments are snapped up.
Back in Bracklesham Bay we were returned home by our Big Dip taxi driver (Paul) who sheepishly told us he slept in (working until 4:00 am) so missed the swim. Sounded like a good idea to me!!! The weather is now colder with the pond being frozen a few mornings. I have put some food out for the birds but have seen none so far. Too cold perhaps. Our next trip is Feb. when we have 3 days in Iceland to see the Northern lights, will need out warmest clothes for that!!