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Last year I have been to Germany on two separate occasions. Here is a little travel journal/guidebook from my visit to Berlin.

Transportation

Turbulences. This is  the first time when I am flying and I feel the plane is actually racing. This must have something to do with the no limitations highways in Germany, and this must be the formula 1 Pilot from Air Berlin.

Finally we land and I dizzily get out of the plane.

The luggage takes its time and I finally get out of the after approx. 25 minutes small luggage waiting room into a circle corridor. A few steps down the corridor there is the a bus ticket counter. The first interaction with the natives is the conversation with the skinny, unfriendly man at the counter. This is my second visit to Berlin, so I remember I should expect rudeness… and yes, here it comes. „ If you do not have change, you won’t get any ticket.“ We really do not have change, but in the end he agrees to take the money as we are buying the more expensive weekend ticket. My husband claims this approach is not rude but part of the Berlin charm… and after all what do I know about charm in Berlin, so I nod agreeing with him.

The bus ride I also remember vaguely. I remember my bags rolling up and down the bus, hitting the other innocent passenger that didn’t have my luck to catch a free chair in the 70s style bus.Image

transportation in Berlin can also be more comfortable…if you are small enough

Accommodation

The next day, catches me wondering the city on my own. The hotel, is modern and comfy and the breakfast-which on the first day I accidentally end up  not paying for-is fabulous.

The reality outside is therefore not less grey and chilly. The big broad, grey streets are like taken out of my home town.Image

Shopping

I am at Karstadt and the shops are catching my eye. I like cities where you get the feeling you have access to everything. I like big streets where the shops almost never close. I like the brands clutter and the smart souvenirs shops that are not only primary based on kitsch. Therefore, I like where I am now. I buy myself an Ampelgirl T-shirt which I will wear proudly after returning from my trip. I also obsessively take pictures of all the traffic lights that come my way.Image

Entertainment

In front of  Karstadt there is an older punk in his 60s, doing some acrobatic tricks on his skate.  Few steps ahead: a woman in her wedding dress in the window of a shop that is getting her hair done. Outside the window a large group of passersby are shooting pictures. I join them and take another on my Instagram. I have a clear image in my head of  a complex Berlin picture that manages to transmit everything that I feel when I am walking the grey, broad streets, but Berlin dosen’t let itself captured by my camera and the ‘one’ big picture dosen’t come along.Image

Sightseeing

I get on the subway and randomly choose a direction, getting off at Alexanderplatz, where once again I am struck by the grayness as well as by the massive construction work that is going on at every corner.  Or is it already finished? If it wasn’t for the shops and brands earlier, I could still swear that I turned back in time to the period when David Hasselhoff hadn’t sung yet on the ruins of the Berlin Wall. The Fernseherturm is as emblematic as Berlin so I try to take another picture with it and the very, very grey sky. A few steps ahead and I get to the Marxs and Engels statutes where a bunch of young kids have gathered to shoot pictures with the two popular culture stars. I get in line as an ex child of communism and take some memorable pics with me and them for the posterity of Facebook.

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Museums & Service

Straight ahead is the Museums Island and I am a little lost thinking which one to choose and where to go. The architecture of this place is very open and instructions are as good as missing. The skyline is more than anywhere else composed of cranes. The scenery has something of a film noir which literally gives you the shivers.

After a short visit in Berlin’s History Museum, I go to the Museums Cafe to have a piece of cake and some coffee, it has been a long day, I am freezing and until now, I have lost two pairs of gloves. As I walk in, the waiter yells at me, again in his „charming“ Berlin accent. „Pfffoah! You look destroyed (kaputt) you need to take a double expresso“ I put on a contained face and suggest cappuccino. He doesn’t seem to agree with me but he will bring it anyway. I for the check; he proactively suggest that the Eastern-Europeans don’t  know how to leave a tip and I, out of pure Eastern-European vanity (which he probably counted on) leave a greater tip than he ever expected.

It is raining now cats and dogs and I get on the first bus of the 100-line that I can find, and just ride around for 40 minutes.Image

City Charm

Back at the hotel on the day of departure, I am prepared knowing from last time that the bus to the airport will be late. This time, it isn’t, but still the driver gets out of the bus every other station to try to repair the front door which has decided to stop working.

The airport control line dosen’t make the trip any easier and it takes an eternity until we get past it. But once passed through it, I fell nostalgic for leaving Berlin. It may, not be pretty, or clean or polite but it is the future, and it is very, very free; freedom that can only come from improvisation, freedom that can only be there where before there has been so much restriction.

If you haven’t been to Berlin yet,  please do not go there for the German precision and cleanness… you will hate it. Go to see how Germans can let go of their cliché-made-up characteristics and live in pure, ‚functional’ chaos. Go there to see organized anarchy.

Berlin

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