Friday, April 18, 2008

Ash & Tiff go to Berlin!

By the end of the first week I was rested and ready to hit the road again! I took a train to Berlin where I met Tiffany! Of course I didn’t actually meet Tiff until the next day because as usual with planes and this trip something went wrong so she showed up a day late.

My first night I meandered down the street and found a ton of cute trendy places to pick from for dinner. I passed a ton of shops on my way (and couldn’t have afforded anything I saw in these windows) it was similar to SoHo in NYC. Fortunately, the restaurants were reasonably priced and I settled on a Vietnamese place called Mr. Hai. I decided that if I lived in Berlin I would be a regular here! The food was really good; I had a big noodle shrimp soup bowl. The guys at the table next to me had apps then this whole fish with skin on…I was scared all the way from my table! I don’t do well when they show up with the whole fish and of course this has happened to me a few times by accident. There were lots of people: a fun looking rowdy group at one table, an adorable couple –the girl looked like a super model with her European lover, the guys with the whole fish who I met later and were on business from Israel, and lots of other interesting looking folks – but I’d say I was definitely the only tourist! Score, I was in with the locals! One of my favorite things…I love being a tourist and don’t like looking like one! After living in NY you start to get annoyed by tourists and then when you are one you feel like you are doing something wrong!

Oh, I almost forgot, this cracked me up and I have to share (silly as it is). If you know me, you know I LOVE water! I can’t get enough, I am drinking it non-stop and if I go to long I can practically chug a liter when I sit down. So I ordered tap water when I sad down for dinner, she brings me this tiny glass. Nice, I try to sip it but then my food comes and I ask for another. She brings me a slightly bigger glass this time. I drink that one too and ask for a 3rd when I was paying my bill. This time a guys shows up with a HUGE glass of water! I just laughed! I guess they learned! I drink water like the Germans drink beer! “Good for the body!” as they always say!

In the morning I read and relaxed until Tiff showed up, I didn’t mind because I need a break now and then. Traveling gets too you if you’re always on the go. But as soon as Tiff arrived we had to get going –there was a lot to see in a short time, Berlin is huge! Our first stop was Museum Island. It was late in the day so we only had time for one…gosh there are a ton to choose from…we went for the first one and saw the Egyptian exhibition at the Alte Museum. I have to say it wasn’t my cup of tea but I think Tiff really liked it so that works for me! We saw the TV tower about a million times on the trip…we read about it but didn’t really care to see it, don’t worry you can see it from anywhere! It’s that big.

We moseyed around the enormous Berliner Dom, saw the crypts below and the amazing art in the main cathedral then climbed hundreds of steps to the top of the dome for a great city view.

From the top we watched the trains pass in every direction. It was really cool ~ they have such an amazing above S-Bahn and below U-Bahn train system as well as trams, busses and larger trains. You can get anywhere you need to get quickly (except home late at night when you go the wrong way which we unfortunately learned that night).

As we headed for one monument on our map we stumbled upon some sort of celebrity red carpet event and stopped to check it out with the rest of the fans – although we had NO IDEA! who these people were! Still fun, we could see the Brandenburger Tor in the distance so we wandered there next.

Once we got there I rechecked the map to see if we were getting close to our destination, oops we went the completely wrong direction! Oh well! The Reichstag (Bundestag- gov’t building) was just past the gate and we were lucky to be there at that moment because as the sun started to set we had the most fantastic view! Check out the pics!

From there we decided to hop on a double decker bus and see some of the sights from there since it was starting to get chilly and we’d walked a long way by then. It was fun riding around checking everything out! It’s really cheap and easy to see the city this way!

That night we set out in search of Mexican food. I know we are in Germany but come on we both love it and what could be better? The guys last night told me that you can find any kind of food you’d like in Berlin, except German! Ha! We ended up down the road at a place named something like Burrito but not really... and I don’t think it was even close to Mexican! We walked in and they had fun music, lots of people and it seemed good so we stayed.

The waiter was a doll and really tried to help us but when I said I didn’t want anything fried, breaded or red meat I ended up with fried/breaded chicken in a thick white sauce. Perfect! Thankfully Tiff loved hers and pretty much gave me her salad! I like to let the waiters pick but it’s pretty hard when you can barely communicate. We drank a bottle of wine, had a few random things on the house and a great night overall!

Day #2 or 3…in Berlin depending on who’s counting

Today we decided to head to Potsdam, it’s a small city outside Berlin. I’d compare it to going to Jersey or Connecticut from NYC. It was just a 45 minute train ride away. When we got there we had no idea what to do or where to go so we joined a tour group and jumped on a big red double decker!

It turned out to be a great idea! We had a wonderful tour guide who laughed all the time and kept saying “I likit somuch” over and over! She was really funny and made it a great and very productive few hours in Potsdam.

We saw the three palace/castles a few amazing parks and pretty much all of the town. At the end they dropped us in the town square and after a little lunch we headed back to Berlin.

It was such a quick trip that we still had plenty of time to see more of Berlin before dinner so we started at the East Side Galleries. This is the longest remaining area of the wall, I’ll add a pic later from Tiff’s camera...there was really only one spot with good graffiti the rest was just a mess. It was crazy to see what had once been all around the city and to imagine all of the poor people who were stuck on the wrong side of the wall.

After we found Checkpoint Charlie and took our time listening to the audio guides throughout the museum. I have to say this was one of most eye opening museums I’ve ever been to. I go to tons of museums around the world when I travel and most are just different kinds of art. This museum told the stories of hundreds of people and what they endured during the brutal period in Germany’s history.

*From Checkpoint Charlie Museum

That night we sampled some of Germany’s finest beer!

Last day in Berlin-

Tiff and I travel well together, we hardly plan and we just go by the seat of our pants. Let me just say it works really well this way because if you plan too much it never all works out anyway so why bother! Today we had a short list of things to see before we left…where to when we left we still weren’t sure!

First stop the partly demolished church - Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche. This church was mostly destroyed during WWII but the remaining pieces were left as a symbol and to promote more peaceful times. Later two other modern colorful buildings (a chapel and belltower) were built on each side.

Schloss (in German β also means double they would write Schloβ and that is pretty darn confusing when you don’t know German, thankfully I’ve gotten a lot of those rules down now so I can get around just fine) Charlottenburg.

Schloss Charlottenburg was stunning! We didn’t actually go in but spent all our time out back in the winding gardens and forests that they have created. As my guide book says “Stroll the Schloβgarten behind the main buildings, a paradise of footbridges, fountains, and small lakes.” And paradise it was!

Our last must see was the Viktoria Park and it’s dazzling waterfall. By the time we took a bus across town to get there we were famished so we walked past the park in search of food and accidentally ended up right in front of the waterfall! It seems to work this way often…we find things when we aren’t looking for them easier than when we have the map out in full force! We stopped for pics first, can’t waste the sunshine around here!

After lunch we came back and hiked to the top!

Where to next…we decided our best bet was to hop on the next train south and spend the night at my families and that’s exactly what we did! So long Berlin…

*Random pic- they have these for was grose the simply pee on the wall in there..what about us girls??

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