A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Berlin

Day 1 - 24th August

sunny 30 °C

Taxi. After all the fighting with cab drivers in almost every city we visited in 2009, we decided to avoid them wherever possible this trip. So far so good…

Putting on the Ritz. What can I say? We were staying at the Ritz-Carlton for a taste of German opulence. Right on potzdamer-platz across from the famous sony Centre. Mind-blowingly impressive. Rumour has it they spent $100M on each of their 5 stars and another $50M for the ‘plus’. It certainly showed. Grossly indulgent but just what we were after.

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Berlin City. What a beautiful city. A tasteful mix of the old and new. The city of Berlin was levelled in the war with only a handful of buildings surviving. Years on, it is still a virtual construction site but one that has real heart and soul. They say Berlin will never be the Berlin they expected to rebuild, mainly due to red tape and funding however what they have achieved is remarkable. Some of the historic buildings have been restored to their former glory or rebuilt to be more accurate. You could hardly tell the difference.

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Berlin wall. We’ve all heard about it but nothing prepares you for the confronting and chilling impact once in sight. They call it the wall of shame. Apparently the entire length of the wall (some 150km) has been sold 3 times over. They still sell ‘genuine’ chippings of concrete for 3 euro. Can’t wait to see and learn more.

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Sony Centre. Modern complex made almost entirely from glass. The core of it forming an atrium of sorts providing residence for entertainment and numerous eateries. Nice place to stop for a coldie.

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Kurfurstendamm. Shopping heaven. One of the premium shopping strips in Berlin and it didn’t disappoint. I’m starting to sound like a chick. All I seem to want to do is shop, eat and drink. Might still be a little burnt from all the basilicas!!!

Refuel. After another full day of sightseeing, shopping and excessive walking it was time for some grub. Anyone who read through our 2009 blog would have noticed all the pictures and commentary of the food. Unfortunately, not much to write home about here. It’s not bad but it’s far from good. Schnitzel is becoming the safe option. Surely you can’t stuff that up.

Is it safe? The fitness area at the Ritz-Carlton is exceptional. Pool is small but the presentation is superb. I’ll take Vic with me for protection this time. The sauna was far less traumatic than my last experience however it will never be the same again. It once was a place of solace.

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Posted by samandvic 01:22 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Berlin

Day 2 - 25th August

semi-overcast 29 °C

Brekky. We indulged in a tasting plate and some pastries in the atrium of the Sony Centre. It seems the less cooking involved, the better the taste here. Good way to start the day.

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Hop along. The Hop on Hop off buses are great to get a general feel for the city before exploring the parts that interest you the most. Berlin is the area of Munich, Hamburg and Dresden combined so there is a lot of ground to cover. We signed up for a two day tour concentrating on the West on Day 1 and the East on Day 2.

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Checkpoint Charlie. One of the most famous checkpoints along the length of the Berlin Wall. A crossing in and out of the US sector. Also the location where the cold war hit it’s climax and very nearly resulted in WWIII. Again quite confronting.

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Thai Thai. I’ve already complained about the food a few times so thought Thai might be a good option. Two main reasons. Can’t eat anything else fried right now and secondly, a vegetable or two wouldn’t go astray. Vic ordered a Pad Thai noodle. One of the most famous and common Thai dishes. Obviously, easier than we thought to get the flavours all wrong.

How did we end up here again? Somehow we ended up back in the shopping district. Vic ‘accidentally’ left her sunnies at home. Straight out player. I’ve been hustled. Anyone who has shopped for sunnies knows how excruciatingly frustrating it can be when things don’t go your way. Vic wasn’t having any luck but somehow I was to blame. A little bit of a public tiff in the middle of Chanel before we regrouped. Finally success. Painful process but great outcome.

Wind up. It’s becoming routinely enjoyable ending each day with a workout, swim, spa and sauna. I could live like this.

Posted by samandvic 01:35 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Berlin

Day 3 - 25th August

sunny 33 °C

‘East Side’. Back on the bus to explore East Berlin. Very different. Lots of Communist housing but also many grand historic buildings. I felt emotionally unsettled travelling through Berlin. I don’t have an exact way of describing how I felt but I’m sure it was simply my inability to process the emotion attached to what we were seeing and maybe even more so what we weren’t seeing. The city was virtually destroyed. Where did everyone go? There were huge bunkers everywhere. Every part of the city was a distinct reminder.

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The Wall. We got to see a recreation of how the wall stood, including patrol roads, watchtowers and the inner wall. I didn’t know there even was an inner wall. They called the area in between the death strip for obvious reasons.

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East Side Gallery. One of the longest preserved sections of the wall which now acts as a giant canvas lining the river bank. Very cool.

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Dinner. Check out the expression on Vic’s face. Not impressed. We thought a bit of sausage could be a winner for a quick dinner. We thought wrong. Can’t wait to eat some real grub.

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Hackescher Markt. Another cool little pocket of Berlin. In the cultural slash artsy sector. Many more alternative types plus street entertainment, live music and a real buzz about it.

Posted by samandvic 02:52 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Berlin

Day 4 - 27th August

semi-overcast 26 °C

Potsdam Tour. On yesterday’s tour of East Berlin, we got a bit friendly with the tour guide who invited us to join him on a complimentary tour of Potsdam. We did all the right things to get there on time but unfortunately just missed his bus. Thanks anyway, Andre. We caught the tour with one of your colleagues.

Prussia. Home to local royalty. Very picturesque. Great looking palaces, castles and mansions. It was also home to KGB headquarters outside of the Soviet Union. They took over a girl’s school.

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Royal wedding. We couldn’t visit the grounds of the Sansoucci Palace because we were either lucky or unlucky enough to be there at the same time one of the Princes of Prussia was getting married. Surely he could of asked first. Highly inconvenient.

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Train to Prague. Definitely the highlight train ride in terms of scenery. Green, lush fields with grand country residences scattered throughout. Crossing of the border may not have been an official one however we immediately knew we were in Czech based on the sudden change in architecture. Remarkable.

Posted by samandvic 02:58 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Prague

Day 1 - 27th August

rain 14 °C

Deja vu. Does it ever not rain here? Same exact thing happened to us last time we were in Prague. Rainy, miserable weather. The reason we decided to come back was because our last visit felt a little throttled by the weather. Annoying.

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Good Times. The lady at hotel reception recommended a local restaurant named cestri. Not sure if it was simply the substandard comparison of food we’d previously eaten that made everything taste so good or standalone merit but who cares really. I ate carp for the first time and can see why it is highly revered here. Very tasty. The beer was to die for. Can’t remember what it is called but they serve a beer that is about 1/5th liquid and 4/5ths froth. Maybe it was just a way to rip me off but the flavour was sensational. Great food. Great Beer. Great night.

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Posted by samandvic 03:06 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

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