I got to Berlin early afternoon on December 30th. First up was checking into the flat near Prenzlauer Allee. We got it for our first 4 weeks from Corinna, a lady currently travelling in India to check up on family ties and probably catch up with more travel rich days of the past (or so the photos in her apartment and the skype conversation we held in Bogota would suggest).
Given I was early (and hungry), I stopped at a Döner shop right next to Prenzlauer Allee station. EUR4,50 for a standard Döner (gone are the days of Eur2,00 a piece)… It would mark the beginning of me catching up eating Döner after many years away. Check into the flat was easy as a friend of the host popped by to give me the keys and a short intro. Now a just a bit of shopping and I was sorted.
Later at night I was off to Berlin Tegel to pick up Laura. I began analysing the other folks in the S-Bahn:
- Plenty of people in the S-Bahn and streets with beer bottles
- Many people speak a mix of Turkish or Arab with German words mixed in
- First fireworks banging in the sky even though it was only Dec 30th
The pick up worked out flawless … and soon later we had both checked into out new home in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg or Prenzlberg as they call it here.
Happy New Year
Breakfasts at Corinna’s are a lovely thing to do. I really like her Arabian corner with the low table and comfi seating. Laura was in for a treat on her first morning … German bread rolls and her favoured “Rügenwalder” spreadable sausage.
We eventually headed out into a nice, but chilly day in Berlin. We picked up some fireworks on the way, a drink and joined the many other people headed for the party near Brandenburg gate. Naturally (these days) there was lots of security checks about and we passed probably 3 of them before we couldn’t advance further. With live show, fireworks and plenty of drinks we headed into 2020 … an icy start into the new year – Gesundes Neues everyone!
Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR)
After a very lazy start into 2020, we managed to get out and do our first bit of sightseeing. Alexanderplatz with the TV tower and the world clock weren’t far away and neither was the museum of the DDR – the country of East Germany that I was born in all these years ago that no longer exists.
It was busy to say the the least, but still felt like travelling back in time. Especially the rooms decorated in old DDR style impressed me (living room, bathroom, kitchen … you name it). One has to know that in the DDR they offered a very limited range of furniture and household appliances. so many people had literally the same stuff (IKEA went on to copy this successful concept subsequently ;o). We also learned about some DDR customs – Laura was most intrigued to hear that 4 in 5 East Germans were nudists. True, also I spent part of my youth on the nude beaches near Pirna. And it felt like the most ordinary thing to do (unlike today). How hilarious!
Weihnachtsmarkt (at least briefly)
Having arrived a week after x-mas, the number of x-mas markets still open was limited. Still we found one near the DDR museum and at least had a bite to eat – Schaschlik (meat skewer) and Quarkkeulchen for me. Tasty! Never mind the exorbitant price tags.
Not far from our house you find one of Europe’s largest planetariums – the Zeiss Gross-Planetarium. The building still dates back to East German days (construction finished in 1987) and has a dome measuring 23m in diameter. We saw a highly interesting presentation on the planets there in rather comfortable reclined seats. Sadly it was in German only … so only visuals for Laura. Anyway, do visit! It is well worth it if you care to look beyond the horizon.
Dem Deutschen Volke
A visit to the Reichstag with its impressive cupola just has to be on your list of things to do in Berlin. You just need to pick a time slot and sign up in advance and you get to see it for free. The audio-guided tour points out important buildings in the perimeter as well and you get to learn about the German political system. Nice.