We got up bright and early Wednesday morning and checked out of the hotel. We rolled our suitcases over a million cobblestones to the main train station, got the required ginger lattes at Joe and the Juice one last time, and then went to find the train to the airport.
AirBerlin seems to be one of those fly-by-night airlines (like RyanAir), so they weren’t in the check-in system. We went to the desk instead, and had to wait a while to check in. The luggage conveyor belt was broken, too!
We did some last-minute shopping in the airport, then went to find our flight. There was a row of really incredibly drunk guys behind us heading to Oktoberfest (they’d already begun their own personal Oktoberfest), so that was kind of annoying, especially when they continued ordering a bunch of beers on the flight. Thankfully, the flight was short. We landed at Berlin Tegel about 40 minutes later.
In the main terminal, we found the booth that distributes the Berlin Welcome Card, which we’d ordered in advance. Much like the CPH Card, it included all public transit, and a lot of free/discounted admissions in the city. From there, we found the bus stop and boarded the TXL bus to Alexanderplatz.
The bus took about a half-hour to get to the Hauptbahnhof, and we had good views along the way. We were a little concerned when everyone got off there, and we were the only two left on the bus. Still, Google said it was going to Alexplatz, so we stayed on. The bus went a few blocks further, circled a nearby park, and then there was an announcement that it was the end of the line.
The bus driver gave us instructions for getting to Alexplatz – basically, cross the street and hop on a streetcar. We did that, and crossed over to the former East German side to the Alexplatz U-Bahn stop. Our hotel was a couple blocks further east.
The Hotel Indigo was a very nice little business hotel attached to the Holiday Inn. Because Matt’s a gold IHG member, they’d upgraded us to a really fantastic suite on the 9th floor. The bathroom was almost the size of our bedroom in our house, and the shower was big enough for 10 people. I loved it.
They had some Blue Man partnership, so their branding was everywhere:
This was our view, overlooking Alexanderplatz and the Fernsehturm. I couldn’t get over how great it was.
We unpacked, then walked over to see the TV Tower.
I’ve been obsessed with Berlin since I started studying German in 7th grade, and then moved on to Russian during the Cold War era. Getting to see all the buildings I’d learned about for years was seriously incredible to me.
We decided to go for the overview first, so we got tickets to the rotating restaurant at the top. Usually there would be a long wait, but the observation deck itself was closed for a private event, and the only other option was the restaurant. The 25-euro/pp admission fee just to get into the restaurant was expensive, but for the experience? We didn’t care.
This is more sun glare than haze, I promise. Looking west, the Brandenburg Gate is in the middle at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Berlin’s Central Park). The main street down the center is Unter Den Linden, and the Reichstag is the building on the right with the glass dome.
I ordered a Schofferhofer grapefruit beer with guarana (energy beer!) and Matt ordered a Berliner Weisse with raspberry syrup. His drink came in a flat bowl of a glass with a short straw, and was more juice than beer. We quickly learned that the original Berliner Weisse is much different than the one we expect here.
Matt ordered potato soup and flammekuchen, and I had mushroom strudel with asparagus. We were pretty thrilled to dive into German food so completely.
Here’s the Spree river with Museum Island.
Looking southeast; the Alexplatz station is right below. Our hotel is the tallish building on the left. God, the Soviet-era buildings. So godawfully ugly.
After making almost two revolutions on the Fernsehturm, we headed back down to earth and walked over to the Berliner Dom.
We circled some of Museum Island and crossed back over to pass the DDR Museum, right on the Spree. We’d be stopping there later for sure.
We stopped in a few shops around Alexplatz, including the Ampelmann store. Bally got to meet him, too:
We walked back to the hotel to redeem our free-drink coupons (courtesy of the front desk). We both ordered beer, but the bartender said that he could only pour prosecco for women and beer for men, because that’s how it was. Germany, you’re kind of a stereotype sometimes.
We went back up to the room right as sun was setting, and changed clothes because it was cooling off. We did some map-examining and researched local restaurants, then headed back out for the night.
We walked a few blocks to Prince, a Thai restaurant nearby that had really good reviews. It was fairly full, but we managed to get a table. We had crispy rolls (both fried and spring rolls), a papaya salad, and green tofu curry. They had a really nice cocktail menu, too.
From there, we took the U-Bahn over to Gretchen Club in Kreutzberg. We’d wanted to see Youngblood Brass Band in the US forever, and of course the only night they’d played Minneapolis a few years back, we were out of town. We loved them, and coincidentally they just happened to be playing in Berlin the night we arrived. Which was convenient.
We bought tickets at the door and went inside. It was kind of like a smaller Quest Club (I know, nobody remembers Quest Club). Beers were cheap, and the bartenders were friendly. The show was fantastic, and for some idiotic reason, neither of us took pictures. So we’ll just have to remember that we were there, sweating in a crowd of Berliners watching a band from central Wisconsin. That’s how it goes.
They also covered Umbrella by Rihanna, Don’t Speak by No Doubt, and Mad World. SO GREAT.
Here’s a show poster I saw on the way back to our hotel, at least!
After the show, we rode back and decided to stop into the gigantic Hofbrauhaus a block from our hotel. It’s the same Munich-based one that you find everywhere (I think the first one we visited was in Milwaukee), but we didn’t care. It was Oktoberfest time, and we were in Germany. It’s the correct time to drink a liter of beer.
We left there about 1am and went to the hotel with the intention of sleeping in as late as we wanted.
Walked: 9.88 miles/ 68.45 total