Germany: Berlin.

A city of order.
Everything has it’s place and it’s own schedule.
Everyone has somewhere to be, with little room for error; late trains or pesky tourists
with strollers and cameras.
Yet hidden away amongst this hustle and bustle are luxurious palaces and manicured gardens,
where it is clear that someone has spent hundreds of hours meticulously building and grooming them.

Our hotel in Berlin was simple and compact, a great and affordable base for our whirlwind 2 night stay.
Having missed our train connection from Hamburg to Berlin, we had a local dinner & fell into bed.

I had a restless night. I was woken several times, although exhausted, with a feeling of
another presence – a sense of being watched, and certainly not alone. A streetlight outside
my window provided a shadow play on our wall of women in flowing dresses and
men in long coats, firing my imagination into gear and keeping me from slumber.
At one point, Pete sat bolt upright in bed and couldn’t articulate why, although he
has done this at home, so it isn’t entirely unusual.
Our hotel probably sounds haunted to you. Or scary. But it wasn’t. It was just intriguing.
I asked my family the next day if they experienced anything unusual but they hadn’t.

We reserved the following day, our only full day in Berlin, for Sightseeing. We took the
metro to Kurf├╝rstendamm and jumped aboard the notorious hop on hop off bus.
We learnt pretty quickly that having a pram as a tourist is just about the most
annoying thing you could do. We used our Ergo baby carrier a lot, but Ollie is weighing
in at just under 15 kilos now, and that gets tiresome pretty quick. It also gets pretty warm.
A rookie error of hopping off the bus one stop too early left us with a 40 minute walk
alongside a beautiful leafy park on the outskirts of the city. I was secretly glad we
missed our stop. It was a beautiful morning, and I admired the way the locals cycled
so effortlessly through the dappled light of the overhanging trees. I wondered if they
owned cars at all, or whether today was just a nice day to leave it at home. I wondered
if they had an apartment in this city, with the trademark pot plants hanging from their
windows. I wondered if they had as much meat & jam for breakfast as we had.
They probably had Weetbix.

We had a look at Checkpoint Charlie. We stood against the remnants of the Berlin wall.
I gazed at the relatively small length of it, and read ‘Madness’ and ‘Why’ painted and drawn
on it’s concrete surface. I was torn between heartbreak and infuriation, and thankfulness
for the preservation of it as a reminder that we can never let this happen again.
Sadly there are many more inhumane conditions still operating throughout our world,
and we can only hope that one day they will no longer be current affairs, but history.

We had the absolute honour of being taken Gerichtslaube for dinner, by none other
than Tina’s (from this wedding) Grandfather, who has lived in Berlin his whole life.
He picked us up at 6PM in a Maxi taxi, and we all shipped off – first down suburban
streets, then down a motorway, then, before long, down a tiny cobblestone street.
It had a beautiful church on the corner, and the moment we saw this little laneway,
we knew we would love this restaurant.
Given the short history we have been given here in Australia, anything over
100 years old is pretty impressive.
Imagine our awe as we sat down to eat in a Courthouse-turned-restaurant which
was built in 1270. Beautiful interior, dimly lit, the atmosphere was warm and
medieval. The food was very….German, and I’m happy to say, delicious!!!
The menu included things like Grilled Deer, Game broth with forest mushrooms,
and Pete’s personal favourite; the 1kg pork knuckle!
Our host spoke very little english, but he brought along his German-English
dictionary and spent the entire dinner trying his hardest to explain the very complex
and interesting history of Berlin. We adored his efforts and all agree that him
taking us to dinner here was our highlight of Berlin.

We took the now boozy (thanks to the constant flow of lovely bavarian beers)
maxi taxi home, where we were entertained by Ollie sleeping with his eyes wide open,
and trying to read German street signs in our hopeless accents.

I feel Berlin has a dark personality I would love to explore, however time was of the essence.
We were in bed just before midnight, in order to make our way to the airport at 6am.

Next stop? Paris.
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