Friday, we got up at 8:30 and went across the street to a little cafe, Wandel, for croissants and coffee. Then we walked over to the train station at Alexanderplatz to get the train to the East Side Gallery.
The East Side Gallery has the largest section of preserved wall, and it’s become an art installation. A big portion of it has photos from the war in Syria:
It’s located right along the Spree River.
That’s Gorbachev behind the wheel:
We feel you, wall. So depressing.
We walked up and down the exhibit, then headed to one of the tour boat stops to take a ride up the Spree River. We thought we were getting on a full-loop tour, but realized a bit later it just went up the river a ways and stopped. We didn’t mind; we were on a boat.
Here’s a picture of the weird Berliner Weisse glasses with juice in it! Also, in Germany it’s OK to name beer after kids.
The area near the East Side Gallery is just now being redeveloped; there’s a lot of gentrification going on. Germany’s going through a lot of struggle with refugees in recent years, and Berlin seemed like an especially welcoming place.
Here’s Yaamaica, a little Jamaican bar on the river.
Heading toward the cathedral:
We went up past the Hauptbahnhof and into the west side of Berlin, which we hadn’t seen too much of yet. It’s very, very different from the area around Alexanderplatz, on the former East German side.
This guy was waiting for us when we got off the boat.
The end of the line was near the Tiergarten, so we hopped on the train to ride over to the beer garden called Schleusen Krug in the park. Matt had read about it, and it sounded pretty great. We ordered from an extremely friendly man in a window, and went to grab a picnic table. The place was gigantic and lively.
I had pretzel knudel with mushroom sauce, tomato, and onion. Matt had giant meatballs with a beet salad. Our meals plus beers were only 14 euro, reminding us that Berlin prices were a really refreshing break from both Copenhagen *and* Key West.
After lunch, we went back to the train station and headed to the Olympic Stadium. It’s imposing, as you’d expect from something build for Hitler’s Olympics.
The stadium itself is really impressive. The Berlin soccer team plays here. (We made sure to stop into their team shop, obviously.)
The swimming pools are still in use as well.
Here’s the list of gold medalists. We were happy to see Jesse Owen’s name at the top.
This is the parade field. It’s creepy just to see such a Hitleresque edifice.
They have one of the original bells outside. The swastika has one of the corners filled in, as if to pretend it’s not a swastika.
Once we were done with the stadium tour, we took the train back into the city to the Ramones Museum. REALLY. Admission was 6 euros, which included a beer from the bar.
The building isn’t huge, but it’s absolutely packed full of Ramones memorabilia. It’s amazing.
This is the bar area outside the museum – the wall is covered in notes from bands who have stopped in.
From there, we walked to see Hackescher Markt, a big shopping area fairly close to where we were staying. It consists of a series of indoor malls and building courtyards all leading into one another in a huge maze. There were nice stores there, but it was really incredibly crowded and we were tired of walking. We wandered around for a bit, then decided to take the tram back to our hotel for a break.
A bit later on, we headed out to get dinner in a neighborhood south of us, near Templehof. We took the U-Bahn to the bus, which was absolutely packed. We finally arrived at Sfizy Veg, which was billed as the best vegan pizza in Berlin. We ordered bruschetta and the Rustica pizza, which had ‘salami’ and artichokes. There was also organic beer, because it was a vegan restaurant. It was indeed delicious, though.
There was a woman sitting at the bar by herself reading while we were talking about football. She spun around and told us she was very excited to overhear Americans talking about sports. She said she was there on business and didn’t speak German. (We agreed that it’s very easy to get around most of Berlin withouth speaking much German, but when you go to neighborhood places like this one it becomes more challenging. Thankfully food is a universal language.)
After dinner we walked to the Ringbahn, which was also totally packed, and took that to a tram that dropped us off near Hops & Barley, a little brewpub in a trendy party of town. It was also totally packed, but we were able to make our way to the bar to order beers. The bartenders were really friendly, and we managed to find a spot to sit in a back room where they were showing soccer. It was the smoking lounge, but we didn’t care that much. It was nice to have American-style beer in Germany, too. (Not that we were hurting for variety in Copenhagen.)
On our second trip to the bar, we discovered their specialty, the Snakebit (schlangenbiss): half-cider, half-beer, with one of the weissen syrups mixed in – raspberry, I think? Anyway, it was delicious. Also, we managed to find a tiny table in the actual bar, away from the smoke.
The trams had stopped running after midnight, so we had to walk back to the U-Bahn. We got back to Alexplatz and walked back to our hotel, noticing that the club in the building next door (Skyclub) was finally open – it had looked almost like it was boarded up. As much as we wanted to see a Berlin nightclub, we also really didn’t. Plus we’re old, so we get tired after midnight.
Miles walked: 13.44/93.89 total