Yay! A great night’s sleep. No doubt helped by yesterday’s combo of German wine and what seemed like a very long and exhausting journey getting here!
One thing we immediately noticed about our rented city-apartment is how very quiet it is round here. OK, it may be because it’s a Sunday, but there’s not a sound from the street and road outside - Perfect!
So, today is a day of taking it easy and seeing what’s what in Berlin. It’s not a city I’ve been to before, although Ann had, many years ago. Luckily for us we have an Underground station - Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz almost outside the Apartment, so that was a good starting point for getting around, as it’s a good network.
We took the Tube for a short journey to Stadtmitte, and as we emerged from the station, the weather had certainly improved even further, A dramatic blue sky and sunshine too! It must have been 21 degrees already and it was only 10.30! The good weather certainly brought out the best of the area - the buildings looked stunning against the gorgeous blue sky.
Scenes around Stadtmitte
Next on the agenda (and to take advantage of the great weather) was an hour’s boat tour around Berlin on one of its two large rivers - the River Spree. In spite of the Tour Guide giving the who tour in German (naturally!), it was easy to see that by day he was a tour guide, and by night, he was perhaps, a stand-up comedian! He had all those on board (apart from us two) in stitches for most of the trip. Anyway, that didn’t stop us enjoying the stunning views along the way (but it would have been good to hear the jokes!!!)
Scenes from the River
With the tour over, we decided to stop for a quick bite. After a few minutes walk, we found a nice, typically Germanic looking restaurant, where Ann’s German actually fooled the waiter into giving us German menus. Is was only my English that redressed the balance, and we were soon looking at the English alternatives. I settled for the local speciality - curried sausages (sounds weird, tasted brilliant!), whilst Ann fought her way through what looked like about 14 ton of stir fried pork with potatoes and onions. Boy, the portions were large, so what’s a tourist to do, but order a beer to help the digestion! (pathetic excuse, I know!)
For Digestive Purposes!
Three-quarters of an hour later, and we were truly stuffed. Luckily, we had a longish walk to our next stop - The Brandenburg Gate - so we managed to walk a bit of it off, but it was more of a sloth-like stroll, than a purposeful march!
Scenes The Brandenburg Gate
As expected, the place was packed, and although the photograph doesn’t really show it, the Gate looked a little dwarfed by all the modern buildings surrounding it. I’m not sure what we expected to see, but it did look less significant than we had imagined.
You can’t really do Berlin without seeing the other famous landmark - Checkpoint Charlie - This was another spot where we weren’t sure what to expect, and in truth, when we finally got there, it was easy to miss. This was another landmark surrounded by modern Germany. If it hadn’t been for the two American soldiers on duty (and ‘on duty’ these days means posing with tourists!), outside the rather small sentry box, this was another iconic spot that might have been easily missed. Shame!
Checkpoint Charlie in 2014 - Blink and you’ll miss it
The only indication we must have been closing in on it was the amount of tourist-tat on sale nearby!
Our final stop of the day was Berlin Zoo - a twenty-five minute tube ride to Zoologischer Garten. As we entered through the rather oriental gate we could see this was another popular destination. There were plenty of families making the most of the really good weather, now a couple of degrees up on the morning temperature - something like 22 degrees.
What did we think? Well, I wouldn’t say we were zoo experts nor especially zoo fans, but it did seem to be lacking one vital ingredient - animals - OK, there were a few lions, giraffes, hippopotamuses, monkeys, birds etc, but we reckon 50% of the cages were empty. It didn’t spoil the visit, but for me, there’s nothing worse than staring at a cage hoping to see something, only to find the cage is empty!!
We left after about an hour (we still couldn’t find the polar bears!), and headed for the Tube. For a Sunday, they were also busy, but we were soon back at base with a cuppa and our feet-up. It’s been a great day, with wonderfully warm weather, that really brought out the best in everything (except the polar bears!). The weather forecast for tomorrow is rain, rain and more rain, so we’ll probably spend it looking around the local Museums and Art Galleries.