10 January 2009

Achtung, baby!

So I started my European adventure in the German capital, Berlin. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting as I flew in, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t expecting to like the place as much as I did.

Berlin, or at least the part I was in, has the look of a feudal village which has accidentally outgrown its tunic and found itself unexpectedly a major world city. Along the way, obviously there have been some awkward adolescent moments (a couple of world wars and a nasty emo phase involving a large wall), but the city that Berlin has become still looks like a badly done BBC period drama. I say badly done because of all the neon lights and modern technology which would be out of place (if not unwelcome) in Mansfield Park.

I only really had a day to spend checking out the city. I walked through the Tier Garten (quite a big deal apparently) which looked awesome covered in snow. Having said that, I think the place would really come into its own in spring, being a garden and all.

I walked past a few monuments. There was one huge one at the junction of a number of major roads. I don’t know what it was called, but I think it had something to do with what used to be Germany’s national holiday, until they moved the holiday to reunification day. Or something like that.

I made it all the way down to the Brandenburg Gate and then went in to have a look at the Reichstag (parliament house). That place has a fascinating history, having been burned down or blown up more times than most parliament houses, even the ones in South America. And apparently Michael Jackson did a concert there once. I could just imagine the whole field in front of the Reichstag filled with people going nuts and cheering for a crazy guy up the front putting on a show on the steps. Wait a minute…

You can get inside and climb right up to the top where they have this very impressive glass dome thing, from which you can see all over the city on a clear day. Unfortunately it was cloudy and close to snowing on the day I was there, but the building itself was fun anyway.

I didn’t make it to Checkpoint Charlie unfortunately, but I did buy a souvenir T-shirt that makes it look as if I did. Does that count? I’d be keen to get back there some time and spend more time to check out the stuff I missed. Maybe on my way home…

Far from home

Garry with 2 Rs
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