Friday, July 1, 2011

The Other Girl: A Travel Journal Part II: Berlin, Germany

We're finally getting around to more "The Other Girl stuff"...haven't read Part 1 of her/our travel journal? Read it here:

Don't know who The Other Girl is? Read about her here:

Want to read more stuff we've written? 
Recommendations - Weeded From Our ... Feeded?

Anyway, we'll write more...we've got some things to do...

The only thing we did to change this was remove proper names...everything else is exactly intact and unedited...


Original blog post date: 11.09.09

Berlin to Munich, Germany: October 5 - 8, 2009

Our crappy little Opel Corsa...P.O.S....
October 9th - Friday So the first night, as I mentioned, we stayed in Hannover and after locating our hotel as late as we did we ordered pizza, which was not good. Too little sauce was the top complaint. Our hotel, however, was great (Ghotel was the name of it) - room was spacious enough, shower was good. The interesting thing about the beds is that instead of a double bed they squeeze two single beds together instead (so far in every hotel we've stayed at) which is fine until they start to spread apart in the middle of the night or just while you are relaxing and you fall into the floor, lol. It's only happened once b/c now we are sure to be careful.
On the way to Berlin we stopped at a town called Magdeburg to try to find a floating bridge I read about, exchange some cash and get lunch. It was difficult to find a bank, we stopped at a shopping center and tried to get directions from the information center but even with out "instructions" we managed to get a little lost so we parked the car in a little neighbourhood and wandered the area to find a bank, of course the two places we stopped thinking that they were banks were not, I think they only dealt in loans but eventually we found the bank, stopped at a little bakery and picked up some bread, cheeses and meats and got back into the car to Berlin...this adventure took a couple of hours.
On the Autobahn [Significant Other] accidentally lost my highlighted map out the window, we had a good laugh and my only real concern was that one of our routes (the Romantic Road - an old trade route with several castles and cool little villages along it) was highlighted and it is a complex one, still don't know how we are going to manage that one.
Anyway, we had bought a Shell map book of Germany in Hannover ... I do not recommend their map books, they are terribly insufficient for cities as half of the streets in the cities are not even listed, streets do not exist on it and streets that should run parallel are shown as running across. It is however good for Autobahn driving and small village/town driving...but bad for a relationship 
We took a wrong turn going into Berlin, which was worse than the wrong turn in Hannover and to add to it the hotel (Hotel Hoppengarten) I booked, while listed as being in Berlin on the website was not in Berlin but about 18 km from the edge of it AND the street name also existed in Berlin so we thought that was our street ...was not good. We arrived in Berlin about 3pm and did not find our hotel until 8pm, tension was high and I was not happy about it so we stayed the night and while the hotel was very nice I cancelled our reservations for the following three nights and booked us into a much closer hotel in Berlin (Winter Hotel Messe Berlin). It was easy to find, the water pressure was great in the showers (a trait we are finding in all the hotels here - making [Significant Other] very happy), the room was large and the staff friendly (another great trait in all of the hotels so far!).
No matter the stress of that first day I reminded myself how lucky I am to be here, how beautiful the countryside had been and how great most of Germany smells - fresh and green, except when it smells like a dairy milk barn...I know there are many of you who will not be familiar with this smell but for those of you who are...that's the way it smelled half the time. We saw a lot of cows and pastures the firs two days as well as lots of wind power windmills, which adds to the theme I am noticing here which is one of conservation and efficiency. I think it is great.
Berlin Wall - Berlin, Germany
October 10th - Saturday We started the day by getting coffee as we headed into Berlin from Hotel Hoppengarten, the coffee here tends to be on the strong side. First stop in Berlin was Checkpoint Charlie, the old entrance into Berlin from when the Berlin Wall was still up. It was very interesting, where the wall had been they now had plywood walls with information on how it started, information on people who got killed trying to go across the wall, conditions of the people and much more. I was never interested in history in high school and now regret it b/c there is so much more I should have known to better understand all the sites we have been seeing but I am fortunate that this experience has inspired both [Significant Other] and I to learn more about the history of Germany when we get home.
When we left Checkpoint Charlie we headed to Postdamer Platz which was the area of the city in which Hitler’s bunker had been (the place where he, Eva and his most loyal followers committed suicide) - the bunker and everything is long gone but I had read that there was a plaque there - despite several attempts during our stay in Berlin we were unable to find it.
On the way back to the car we were drawn into an art gallery, we didn't stay long but while we were there we met an artist there who spoke English very well and had a nice chat with him about Berlin, the food in Munich and Berlin, Canada, the United States (he had lived in New York in the 70's for a period). He was very friendly and it was nice to meet and have our first conversation with a German.
Next we stopped at the Jewish History Museum, we started by viewing all the information on the Jews and WWII, there was first hand accounts, belongings that once belonged to Jews murdered and who had disappeared and Jewish survivors, art installations and more, we also went through most of the museum having to do with the history of the Jews from the middle ages. It was very enlightening to learn about the strife that the Jews have went through almost the entire history of the their existence, I had had no idea about this information, it described and explained how they had received all the stereotypes and gave information on just about everything. Very interesting, emotionally and mentally exhausting...I cannot describe how [Significant Other] and I felt at this point in the day.
At this point we still had not had a meal and it was about 2pm so we decided to first find our hotel and then immediately grab some food. Our "breakfast" that day consisted of a burger and fries from a burger/tex-mex cafe called Galaxy Cafe, at that point we were too hungry to find anything else but the burgers and fries were great, the bun just the right amount of crispy and the fries awesome, of course we were famished so we think maybe that is why it was so good. Incidentally that has also been a theme, we seem to be eating very little and are usually starving by the time we find a place to eat.
Ramones Museum - Berlin, Germany
After breakfast we went to the Ramones Museum which was very cool, they have all sorts of memorabilia, the original lyrics to Blitzkrieg Bop, Johnny Ramones pants that he wore in the 90's all of 1995 (it could have been 1996 too), his guitar, the recipt for his first guitar and so much more, it was pretty comprehensive.
October 10, 2009Saturday(cont.) That afternoon we went to a German restaurant called Bavarium where I had a Munich-style sausage with a pretzel (the pretzel was very good, the sausage was disappointing). [Significant Other] went for the local specialty: Roast pig knuckle with sauerkraut and bread dumpling. It was delicious, the knuckle crispy and sauerkraut the perfect amount of tart and the dumpling, wonderfully meaty texture with a faintly salty crunch.
We had heard about a Tarintinos themed bar in Berlin so before we left I looked up the address and that night we stopped in for a few drink. The bar was pretty cool; a big mirror behind the bar reflected Pulp Fiction playing on the wall opposite. Autographed pictures, movie posters, memorabilia and pictures of Quinton Taretinto when he visited while filming Inglorious Bastards decorate the walls and music pumps from the D.J. Station while well dressed young men and women bump and grind on the small dance floor. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for a little fast good-street food. [Significant Other] had currywurt, which was delicious and I had some chicken nuggets that was served with a bit of a salsa style ketchup, the whole of which was also very good.
By this time it had gotten easier for us to navigate the city once we had gotten a map made more for tourists. We had plans to go to Poland the following day but the next morning would prove to put a wrench in our plans.
October 11 Sunday Woke up this morning planning on going to Poland to search out the countryside from where my ancestors were last traced before moving to the United States in the middle to late 1800`s.
Our new room at the Winter`s only carried one channel for English speaking guests and as anyone knows who watched it, if you catch about an hour of it a day you can pretty much get a version of the news for the next twenty four hours. So, with nothing to listen to while [Significant Other] took a shower I paged through my rental agreement and came across a page referring to restricted countries for the agreement. Poland happened to be on the list and as much of a “bad-ass” I like to be at times I realized that being in a foreign country would not be a good time to have my “agreement voided”, my insurance revoked and potentially my car “seized by border patrol” just because I wanted to do whatever I wanted.
So at about 7am with our plans scrapped and an empty itinerary we had the day in front of us. We stopped at a bakery called Bagels Croissants & Co. and picked up fresh croissants filled with a cream cheese mousse filling, dipped in almond slices and sprinkled in powdered sugar and fresh from the oven pretzels with small coffees. We went back downtown the area where Checkpoint Charlie is and took another stab at locating Hitler’s bunker site, after another failed attempt we went instead in search of the Topography of Terror, a museum that chronicles the violence of Germanys past with heavy emphasis on Hitler’s reign of terror. It was dismal and rainy all day and by the time we finished the museum, currently an outdoor exhibit while the new building is being constructed, we were cold and feeling ill from more emotionally draining information and imagery.
Natural History Museum - Berlin, Germany
We followed Topography of Terror by a visit to the Natural History Museum which currently holds the world’s largest dinosaur skeleton. Needless to say the museum is pretty awesome with its vast collection of prehistoric reliefs and skeletons. The museum also has a very interesting exhibit on the evolution of man, an underwater exhibit, a room with the history of the big bang and a computer simulated example of the theory on how it happened and much more.
We stopped for soup at an Indian restaurant called Warsteiner. I had tomato soup with garlic naan and [Significant Other] had the chicken noodle. Both soups were excellent and warmed up us sufficiently so that we were able to continue our day.
Brandenburg Gate - Berlin, Germany
We visited the Brandenburg Gate, Trier Park and the Parliament, an amazing structure. We followed this up by visiting the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, a beautiful piece of architecture poorly located in a popular shopping district with a view of the logo of the Mercedes corporate building in the background.
Motorcade at the Parliament, Berlin, Germany
Being in the area of the Erotic Museum already, we decided to check it out before we headed to find some dinner. They start your self guided tour in a large gallery with video installations, hands on stations and fact centers on every aspect from oral and self pleasure to positions and fetishes; it’s follow up by a second level full of erotic art from history from the Orient, Europe, etc., including fertility statues from all over the world and many different parts of history. A display on aphrodisiacs shows a shrivelled whale penis and various other exotic placebos. Some drawing portraying some acts of bestiality where the most disturbing thing. The building the museum is in also houses a large supply of adult stores and video viewing booths. Worth a visit if you ever find yourself with free time in Berlin, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit it again.
By the time we left the museum it was 7pm and we hadn’t eaten anything but breakfast and soup so we went out in hunt of food.
We ended up on our second attempt at getting decent pizza in Germany and we ordered from a place called Pizza Bull whose slogan was “Fast Like Bulls”. We may have been starving but the pizza still yielded sub-par satisfaction and from that point we vowed no more pizza in Germany!

Travel Photos Taken In Berlin, Germany:
Charlottenburg Castle - Berlin, Germany
Photos From Trier Park - Berlin, Germany

Photos of Food/Beverages - Berlin, Germany

Photos From Alexanderplatz Square - Berlin, Germany

Neptuen Fountain - Berlin, Germany

 All Photos (c) 2009 Frank et al

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