Berlin - My Second Home
Well we got here after a very long trip on the train. We started off well with a nice breakfast in first class on the Eurostar and a very smooth ride. When we got to Brussels we needed to change to the ICE train. All the instructions had been a bit vague we needed to change stations and go to a station called Liege. I decided to ask directions at the information and was told I had to catch a train from platform 8 to some place I had never heard off, change trains and that would be the one for Liege. When I asked about the ticket she said no time go, go, so we went. Got on the first train and it went a fair distance. The second train was very rural and we had trouble getting on with our suitcases, a lovely young chap helped and told us we were on the right train and said he would help us get off. We travelled a long time and then the ticket inspector got on. I had not told Ross we were travelling without a ticket (he would just worry!!), now I was in a panic. In Germany, it is zero tolerance as they do not check tickets before getting on or off trains. I gave the ticket inspector all the tickets I had and explained that we were maybe lost. He smiled and said we were on the best train. Phew our tickets must have covered this bit too. I was also relieved we were on the correct train as we still seemed a long way from Liege. Liege arrived at last and enough time for a sandwich before jumping on the ICE train to Berlin.
Our relief last a couple of hours when the train stopped and did not move for about 15 minutes there was an announcement in German and everyone looked annoyed. I rang the person meeting us at the apartment and told him we would probably be late but did not know when at this time. A lady sitting in front of us with three children (triplets!!) told us there had been a suicide on the track and we would not be going anywhere. Another announcement and it seemed like we were going back the way we had come to take another line to Berlin. A slow one not the ICE train line. We eventually got in at 1:00 pm - a hotel was in order, the first two I tried were full, the third one had an empty room, we booked in, as soon as we had paid a helpful young man said that we could have got a voucher from the train station for a free night at the hotel as we had arrived so late. I could not be bothered and went to bed.
The next day we meet Patrick at the apartment and he showed us around. It is very small; a bathroom, a lounge/dining/kitchen and a bedroom but it is light airy and very clean. I think we will be happy here. The next few days we spent recovering, clothes washing, exploring the neighbourhood and shopping. It is nice to be able to cook again after a month of travel in Ireland. It is also great to have fast internet after the dreadful connection in England. The only downside for Ross is no TV. Patrick said the aerial had changed so no longer worked but as all the programmes are in German it probably does not matter.
We had dinner on Saturday with our friends Carsten and Andreas, who are very nervous about their wedding on Thursday. We also met the lovely Uta, who is a witness at the wedding and also has organised to come with us in July when we go to see the Tap Pack a show from Australia. Uta worked in USA for quite some time so her English is flawless, our German is still non-existent.
The day of the wedding I am saying one of the prayers so now I am a little nervous..The wedding has its own page so I will say no more.
Back to normal we woke up with the world’s worst colds so I put myself to bed for a few days (I am worse than a man when I am sick), the weather was also a little wet.
We are well again now and have started seeing a little of Berlin. We went to the Brandenburg gate and saw it surrounded by people (as per normal), walked up the Unter Den Linden and saw the embassies, then it rained so we stopped in at a maths exhibition, Ross was bored but I was fascinated they had a PC programme which if you put in a formulae drew the corresponding image. I was not so good at it making a few circles with dents in them and a few taco shells then I got some help and we turned my taco into a birdish shape which I printed. Walked on and still it rained so stopped for a beer and went home. I do enjoy Berlin.
Trip to the Wall
Decided a visit to the remains of the Berlin wall, we have seen it before but it was a lovely day. When we got there, we decided to go into the wall museum. It is different from the Checkpoint Charlie museum as it is about the history of the wall, why it went up the effect it had and how it came down. Less emotional, I thought, than the Checkpoint Charlie museum which is about people trying to escape.
There were lots of very interesting video’s and photos. I had not quite realised how hard John F Kennedy worked to ensure the cold war did not escalate. There was also the story of a Russian in charge of the defensive arsenal who was told 5 nuclear missiles had been fired from the USA. He decided not to do anything until he had visual confirmation, he knew reporting it would cause a retaliatory attack. Lesson to all young technophiles there was no visual confirmation and the missiles were a computer error! It could have been the end of the world as we know it.
By the end I was in tears, it is so emotional all the people being separated in 1961 and then seeing each other again in 1989. The saddest was the last people escaping, the husband was killed.
The walk along the wall was lovely in the sunshine. The wall has changed the first time I saw this the original graffiti was covered in new graffiti. The east was still getting used to freedom and one of the ways was graffiti in the past they would have been re-educated for graffiti, so it was everywhere (still is). The wall now has been returned to the original graffiti which riled against the loss of freedom etc. It is also more artistic than the tags etc. put up later. The wall is harder to photograph now as there is a fence up to stop the graffiti artists.
We had travelled to the wall by tram, but decided as we had walked so far along it we would return by train. Always fun it took us a while to find the station and then the correct platform. The trains and trams here are terrific as they travel every 2 – 4. I had a little laugh when I saw they were publishing a new timetable. Does anyone need a time table with trains at that frequency? Then as we returned by train from our shopping we had to wait 8 minutes!! There must have been a train that broke down.