3rd July 2017 - 6th July 2017

Berlin In July

The Tap Pack

We went to see an Australian tap dance group. We had been told about them by our friend Nick who is part of the management. Chance to meet the guys afterwards. We went with a group of friends who were belatedly celebrating a birthday. We had fabulous seats not at the front where we would have got sand from the stage on our table or an errant billiard cue as happened the week before; but the next row back, safe but close. The venue was the Tipi, I think it is the original Spiegel tent, that we now get copies of in Sydney. Arriving at 6:00 pm we had a great meal. I am a Schnitzel addict and they did it well.
A bottle of champagne later and the show started. It was fabulous tap dancing  and songs from the old Rat pack crew, Sammy Davis Jr. et al. A bit of comedy and some more modern songs - a bit of something for everyone. The tap was breathtaking (Jesse was the tap dancer in Happy Feet - that is how good they all are). After the show two of the boys came and sat at our table (the other three having things to do – You cannot win them all!). We had a lovely chat. It was nice to hear Aussie accents again. All in all, a great night out.
We had a visitor from Australia Sue Adam. It is great to see people from home and to catch up on the news. We met Sue at the airport, she arrived in style in a wheel chair, oh dear we thought this could be a difficult visit. No problem Sue had strained her leg the day before but a day not walking had improved it no end. She got settled in the hotel up the road and we all went out for dinner.
The day looked a little cold and wet, but undaunted we sallied forth on a river cruise. It was not very well sign posted and after walking a long way up the river we retraced our steps and found another cruise. This one was 30 minutes shorter but travelled the same route. The cruise took the canals of Berlin and went through Kreuzberg an expensive part of the city, especially on the river. Then through Tiergarten, past the zoo. Skirted Charlottenburg where there is a Schloss. Then around the Political Buildings, the museums and the Dome (one of my favourite buildings), before completing the circle. It was a fabulous trip and we got off a stop after we saw all the restaurants to find some lunch. We should have got off a stop earlier. Never mind we had a little walk and found a place on a boat. By now it was raining so we saw in the cabin and were served by a lass from Birmingham!! Her English was quite good so we had no trouble finding out what we should eat. The voyage had made us hungry and the rain had set in so we had soup, schnitzel, dessert and coffee. Now we needed an afternoon nap.
The next day the weather was very nice. Ross was off to watch some football or rugby or something. Sue and I went to Charlottenburg. Much to my surprise I did not get us lost even though when describing how to get there to Ross I had outlined the trip to the Schloss in Munich!!! They are still renovating the place so the scaffolding is up taking away the fantastic look. We purchase our tickets and set out to explore the buildings, there are a few. Too mean to buy the permission to photograph, we had to take sneaky shots when the guards were not looking, so we do not have many of the interior (thank goodness you say) we also gave up on the audio guides as we would never finish and besides we were talking not listening.
We lunched in the Orangery before talking the actual castle. It is amazing they had refurbished it after the war and have got furnishings from other castles to show the type of thing that would have been in it at the time. The wall decorations are overwhelming and some of the rooms would almost give me a headache with the cacophony of colours. There are some small rooms that are quite cosy, I would have to hid in those. One room has fabric wall paper Quite thick and luxurious. I had to touch and got told off. No photos for a while I was now being watched!!
We were sad to see Sue off to Nice, where she was meeting her family, but she promised to try and join us again next year. She has become our regular visitor as she stayed with us last year in Galphay (England) where will we see her next year?
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A day  out in the car!! We met up with Carsten then caught the train out to meet Uta and travel top Schloss Rhinesberg It is about 50 mins drive from Berlin through lovely countryside and little German villages. One of which was where Uta grew up. Schloss Rhinesberg is an imposing castle built on its own water way. We heard lovely singing when we arrived in the gardens and followed it to a stage where there was a rehearsal of Carmen taking place for Opera in the gardens in a few weeks time. The Castle and grounds are great for photo’s. 
After our sight seeing we stopped across the road for a cold drink and I tasted a very German drink beer with Elderberry syrup, It was lovely thirst quenching and refreshing. I might have found a way to drink beer.
Another drive through the country found us at Schloss that is used as a government guest house I peered through the fence but saw no one famous, in fact saw no one at all. Next door was a restaurant were we had come for lunch as it has a good reputation with Carsten. It lived up to its reputation with lovely food cooked slightly differently my schnitzel was wrapped in vine leaves and was delicious. We took a long lunch as it started to rain. When it eased off a bit we headed home.
Getting off the train at our station it was still raining so rather than get wet we walked under the road and out at the Hotel Landel’s this hotel has a sky bar we have been trying to get into, it is very popular. We went up to the bar and as it was early got a great table looking out over Berlin and our apartment. A great end to a super day.
Decided I needed a hair cut. Ross planned the route and we went by bus there is more to see that way. When we got into the city I found the hairdresser was shut on Mondays (today is Monday). Not to worry we saw a Banksy exhibition and went it. I have seen some of his stuff as has everyone. This is a big exhibition and it is travelling around London, New York, Melbourne, Paris and Berlin good to see we made it into the famous cities.
As it nears time to leave Berlin I thought I would tell you about living here. We live in an apartment in the old East Berlin. 90% of Berliners live in apartments which is why the parks are so well utilised. We live on the third floor in the garden apartment. The garden comprises of 2 dumpsters and 4 large wheelie bins. Next doors garden is all concrete. Probably from before the wall came down as the concrete is succumbing to weeds. It has one tree slightly around the corner.
Below us lives a senile man, who spends a large part of his life calling to Elfie, a dog or cat, which is obviously long deceased. We are woken in the morning to the clarion call of “Elfie com” which is repeated ad infinitum throughout the day. We have to walk upstairs to the apartment as it was built when the GDR was in power so no lifts. The apartment has a long corridor off which is the bathroom it then opens into the living area. The kitchen part has a 2-burner stove and a bar fridge. We shop every day so it is not a problem. The room also contains the most uncomfortable couch and a very lager table with only 2 chairs. The other side opens into the bedroom which is very large. The rooms are airy with large doors that open onto pretend balconies 6 inches wide. Good for drying clothes as we have a washing machine in the bathroom, but no drier.
In a normal day, we awake early about 5:45 am as it is so light and our blinds do not hold out the light. We then read and drink cups of tea before getting up for a Frühstück (European breakfast) of toasted rye bread and cheese. We listen to the Children go to school. We may then go sightseeing or stay at home. The post office uses DHL for parcels and we have become the parcel depot for the apartment as we are usually home when they deliver. We then visit the REWE supermarket and buy what we need for dinner. There is a bar and a restaurant at the end of our street, the post office and pharmacy just around the corner along with assorted other shops. The train is 2 blocks away and the trams a little closer in the other direction. On the next street sits the Catholic church and kindergarten, we hear the children at play including the screaming girl. The bells ring at mid-day and at 6:00 pm, the evening bells signal happy hour in the apartment when I usually indulge in a gin and tonic or a martini. It stays light here until about 10:30 pm so we quite often have a very late dinner, not noticing how time has flown.
Travel is easy we have a monthly ticket which covers all forms of travel in Berlin A and B which is as far as we need go. The trains go every 8 mins most of the time except Sundays when it is 10 -12 mins. Trams are about the same although they do seem to travel in pairs so we have taken to catching the second one and getting a seat. We can get anywhere we want by train or tram, but if we go into town we may take the bus as it travels through all the well know tourist areas and is cheaper than the hop on, hop off!!
We have made new friends here so we have a social life and have visited some great bars, coffee shops and restaurants. We invited a couple to dinner in our apartment it worked but was a little crowded and difficult as there was minimum crockery. After that I wrote to the owner (he lives in Italy) and told him he should remove the dish washer as there was not enough crockery to allow us to use it. The next week Patrick the lovely manager turns up with a new setting of 8 of everything so now we can use the dishwasher, why did I not do that sooner? We also had people for pre-dinner drinks before our wedding anniversary dinner and that worked very well apart from the difficulties in getting out of the couch!
We have been very happy in this apartment, apart from the smelly man downstairs. His carer comes once a week and I think that is the only time he washes. It is in a great spot very airy, clean and works well for two people. Miles too small for visitors. It is also quite cheap. Food and alcohol are very cheap in Berlin so we have lived well. We may not live in Berlin again but we will certainly be back for visits to this fabulous city.
Farewell to Berlin

Park on the weekend Berliner's at play

This is our tram stop - Party tram in picture (old tram)

This was an GDR Shop.

Now a second hand shop and apartments

Spotted at the market

Cotheniusstraße 5. We lived here

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Writer: Clare

Editor : Ross Lyon

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