Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to the Future

Well I’m afraid to say that there isn’t too much exciting stuff to report in this edition! Sunday was a wasted day – pathetic, I know, how often am I in Berlin? But seeing as we haven’t had a day of doing nothing for 8 and a half weeks, we decided to have a day of doing nothing. So we sat in the hotel room all day, mostly youtubing. I have always been terrible at youtubing, which I have never understood, people seem to spend hours and hours and hours on it looking at random videos. When it comes to the crunch I can never think of anything to look up, but I actually did quite well!

We emerged to go to Macdonald’s for our afternoon meal, because at this late stage we are requiring cheap foods to consume, and it was nice Maccasish. The staff spoke English, which has been the experience all over Berlin. I always try German to start with, but they seem to be able to guess that I don’t speak German and just respond in English – I have no idea how they can tell...

We had big plans to go to the Brandenburg Gate in the evening to watch the Euros, England versus Italy. However walking past a window on our way to the hotel lift we noticed it was pouring. So we went back to our room to grab brollies, and thought we should check they were actually showing the game at the Tor. A quick google search showed that they weren’t – only German games until the semi-final round, so disappointed we watched it on the tellie in our room. It was tough to pick a side, while the Italian team is much more attractive we are in London for the semi-finals and it would be fun to watch the English semi in a pub or something. So I went for England, and they lost. But it was the most boring 2+ hours of my life and I was reminded of why I don’t watch Fussball: 90 minutes no one scored. So they decided to play on for another 30 minutes (why!? They’ve been doing that for 90 minutes and it didn’t work! Try something else!) before finally Italy took out the game in the penalty shoot-out. TORTURE!!

Yiew! That's totally us... 

My annoyingly attractive and photogenic sister watching the hopeless football game.

Anyway, Monday was a much better day. After playing the check-out store-luggage game once again – much more difficult than usual this time as the hotel lobby was absolutely swarming with Italian men who’d just arrived for a conference of some kind – we wandered back into Berlin to find some wall. And find it we did, at Potsdamer Platz. This trip has gotten me really in to graffiti, I have to say. I just really like the colours and the layering, and the remaining segments of the Berlin Wall are covered in it. And I have to say that I was quite underwhelmed by the wall itself: it was basically just looked like sections of a temporary, thin concrete partition – I’d expected it to be somewhat thicker and more imposing...

A lego giraffe! Discovered on our wanderings

The Berlin wall

Graffiti on the wall. I love it!

We kept walking back up to the Brandenburg Gate, then down the shopping strip we discovered off Unter den Linden the other day and came across Checkpoint Charlie, the former US checkpoint at the border between East and West Berlin. Naturally the first thing you see when crossing from what was formerly part of the Soviet Union into the American sector is a Macdonalds – so in we went for lunch (again, cheap and easy), and it was cool to ponder the fact that the history of the Cold War, the history of the Berlin Wall, is so incredibly recent that there were people in that Macdonalds that would remember a divided Berlin. And I guess that’s one of the things I liked best about Germany. I am a total history nerd – generally ancient history is my thing, so of course I was mad about Italy and most of Europe for its Roman ruins and artefacts. But that stuff is so far gone, no one remains who really knows anything about it: we just have to look at the scant evidence that is left and interpret it, and guess what was going on and what things were used for and what it was like to be there. It’s so interesting to think of the important history that has been in Germany within a lifetime. Stuff we look back on as if it were so long ago – like the Nazis, like the Berlin Wall - compared to Roman and Greek and Egyptian history it really only happened yesterday. It’s a very cool experience.

Brandenburg Tor

The return of the pink coat! It was a little wet and chilly in Berlin.

Checkpoint Charlie

Welcome to the American Sector!! Macdonald's at Checkpoint Charlie

There’s a lot more of Berlin that I would love to see, but we were out of time folks! So we headed back to the hotel to get our luggage and grab a taxi, this time to the airport. We checked our luggage (Ryan Ignatius came in at 22.8kgs. So, so, so lucky, the limit for our flight was 23!!!) and found a spot in which to hang out: Tegal airport isn’t that great, there’s not really anything to do or anywhere to eat or sit except in these little waiting areas that have grills to sit on over the top of heaters. I believe they’re getting a new airport but it isn’t finished yet. I was happy to finally get a stamp in my passport and after the plane was late we had a pretty uneventful flight. I never really like flying – I am more than happy being a land mammal and I like my feet planted firmly on solid ground thank you very much! But I did quite well. We flew with British Midlands International, sitting just behind the ‘business class’ section: they had exactly the same seats as us, but there was a moveable curtain partition between them and the plebs and they got food. Funnily enough when we were landing the partition was apparently not locked in place, so it moved quite a way forward over their heads and voila! They were in cattle class too!!

Fluffy clouds over Germany (I guess...)

Into our taxi from Heathrow, Mads was pretty dang excited to be back in her adopted homeland. We’re staying at the same holiday flat in Walthamstow so for me it is a bit anticlimactic: it feels like Europe never happened!! So basically I’m ready to head back to Paris and start over – would anyone like to fund a perpetual holiday for me?? Mind you, it is very nice being able to speak the same language as everyone else here: no more vacant smiles, I can actually be polite to people and have conversations, and we can understand signs and announcements! AND I love British comedy television: a bit of InBetweeners to get myself settled back in. Fabulous!

Today we got ourselves all settled in to the flat: I went to the shops to get food etc (heaven! I can read the supermarket signs that tell you what is down each aisle!), then Mads and I went and got the rest of my stuff out of her storage locker – there’s not nearly as much as I thought there would be, I reckon I’ll be under the 30kgs limit for my flight back to Aus! Huzzah! I 'cooked' dinner - and I have to say that after eating from restaurants/takeaway/cafes I have lost all practice in preparing meals. Trying to think of what to cook was impossible - I need a menu with options that require only telling someone what you want and then out it comes a short time later, all prepared for you! So we had these pre-prepared crumbed chicken things with roasted potatoes, also pre-prepared. And that is about it! Probably head in to the city tomorrow for some good old fashioned sightseeing (nope, haven’t done enough yet!) – surely it’ll be fourth time lucky for Westminster Abbey. Surely!

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