Berlin!

June 1, 2010

Berlin was pretty crazy. We apparently came in during one of their big annual festivals. There were gypsy performers in the streets (one guy juggled flaming batons blindfolded, and on a unicycle). There were tents set up with bars and food, which we had for dinner. Apparently the night after we left was the climax of the event, during which there would be 1.4 million people crowding the streets right up to our hostel.

Our first day in Berlin we walked around the city, trying to find a bunch of tourist spots before meeting up with Dr. Kriley at Checkpoint Charlie for dinner. We started out all together, looking for a place to eat lunch. We found a sweet place right by the fairground that sold this amazing turkish food called a döner kebap. They have a two foot tall cylinder of meat (diameter of maybe 1.5 feet?) that they put on a spit and rotate, cooking it rotisserie-style. When you order one, they toast a piece of bread similar to a roll, and start shaving off the outer layer of the meat. They put it on the bread with some lettuce and other veggies and a sauce (the one here was a garlic dressing). It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Bennett, Clay, Thane, Anthony, Caleb, Will and I ate those at a table while the rest of the group went off to find some different food. Anyways, we went to get up and leave when we realized that the other group, whose five-person train ticket Thane was on, had ditched Thane. So we ended up having to buy an extra ticket so he could come with us.

We took the train to a long stretch of the Berlin wall which had been muralized and turned into a gallery. Some of the murals were incredible. I took some pictures which I’ll have to panorama and post in the future. From there we took the train to the Brandenburg Gate, which was amazing. We walked through that, and headed south to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe. From there we walked around the edge of the park until we found the memorial to those murdered in association with the Valkyrie plot. We went on to the Kaiser Wilhelm I Cathedral, which was mostly destroyed by bombs in WWII. We met up with Dr. Kriley and checked out Checkpoint Charlie. Some people in the group said I looked like that one soldier that was killed there.

The next day we went on a bike tour of the city (the company was Fat Tire Bike Tours). Our guide was Australian, but she moved to Canada when she was 15, and now has been in Germany for a bit over a year. Because of this her accent was kind of a combination of the three, and very weird. It was refreshing to be the ones on the bikes for once and we took great pleasure in using our bells to move people out of the way. We stopped at a beer garden for lunch, where I had leberkaβ (I’m not sure that’s spelled right), which means “liver cheese,” but apparently is unrelated to both liver and cheese. It was shaped like a pork chop, but tasted like a hot dog. I had it with sauerkraut, and it was delicious.

That night we went to the festival which was a lot of fun. I can’t believe how much we lucked out, coming to Berlin right as this was going on. Bennett and I had some really spicy South African brats for dinner, with come South African beer. We went on and found a “beers of the world” stand that had Duff beer (the one from the Simpsons). It was terrible—easily the worst we had tried. We went around the festival and had a few more drinks before calling it a night.

On to Munich!

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