Last Sunday to this past Wednesday Sonia and I decided semi-last-minute to take the 5.5 hour train ride to Berlin. Reason being, of all cities in Germany, it would be the most shameful if, after having lived here for 10 months, we hadnÂt even made it to Berlin. We left at 7.23 in the morning, and had *luckily* only to change trains once. We went south through Karlsruhe and then back north to Berlin. On the way to Karlsruhe the train was filled with young business men/office working types who had apparently spent their Saturday night out celebrating and were on the way back home. Pleasant.
I said before that I hate train children. For the last two hours or so of the trip, a group of four (two little girls and their mothers); the kids were loud. One of the little girls, presumably a bit older than her friend, was unbearably and obnoxiously loud. She was one of those kids (unfortunately IÂm positive that I was exactly like this at times until the age ofÂ 10? Sorry Mom, sorry DadÂ ) who just doesnÂt know when to shut it. Or when to keep the voice down. Orgenerallynerak, when not to be a child other people tend to dislike. She spent her time laughing too loudly, saying her stomach was full of vegetables, poking the other girl with food, and slapping playing cards down on the table like it was her job. Then there was the running up and down the aisle and playing hide-and-go-loud-seek. The thing that strikes me now, is that neither of the two mothers attempted to sedate their children in any way. Sure, maybe theyÂre used to it. Maybe they did it on purpose so that the rest of the immediate world would suffer as much as they do on a daily basis. Whatever their planÂ common courtesy Â youÂre in an enclosed space with minimal fresh air, and people who have been on the train much longer than you. You think they would know to tell the kids ÂInside voices!Â
But then again, in complete contrast, there was a mother who quite viciously shook her son and scolded him for (apparently) teasing his (older) brother. Violently shaking your kid in a public place vs. not telling your kid to sit down and shut their mouths: shaking wins as far as bad parenting goes.
Was I ever shaken? DonÂt remember. But the memory loss is probably a result of falling on my head a few times.
By the time we got to Berlin I had a headache to the point of being sick to my stomach. Damn kids. (Note: I saw enough cute kids during the stay in Berlin to save me from any potedespisingld-dispising that may have been a result of the trip)
Our hostel was right across the street from the Berlin Zoo-Garten Bhf, which was convenient, and kind of endearing, because mornings I could hear "Meine Damen und Herren auf Gleis 2..." And the stairs to the hostel are across a set of stairs that lead to "World of Sex", the sex shop that accompanies the Berlin Erotik Museum. No, we did not end up going there. Mostly because our 3-Day Museum ticket didn't cover it. ZOOM!
Short nap after arrival -- we were the first people to check in from our room of 12 people. The other people only showed face after 12 A.M. or so when Sonia and I came back from the movie theater and turned the light on eight sleeping Koreans. I know they were Korean because when they weren't there I looked at the name tags on their backpacks. Hey -- I just wanted to know what I was dealing with.
Before the movie we walked around the area, had Hagen Daaz (how German, no!?), and....looked at stuff. It was Sunday evening, everything but ice cream and coffee shops is closed (no complaints from me), so we walked. Then we saw Date Movie, and that wasn't too exciting, and then we went back to the hostel and woke up the Korean roommates.
The rest of the time was spent booking it everywhere just to get to the museums we wanted to see (Alte National Museum, Alte Museum, GemÃ¤Guggenheim, Gouggenheim [don't know how it's spelled, so I'll fix it later], etc.). We took a boat tour and listened to 60 minutes of history and bad jokes about the surrounding buildings. We also walked to Charlottenburg (one of many parts of Berlin) and checked out the castle there. One plus about most museums and historical touristy things in Berlin: you pay for the ticket, and you get the audio guide for your visit FREE OF CHARGE. I loved it, even with the sometimkitschynfully kitchy statements, or such questions as "Are you now back in the Silver room? Good! Now, if you turn left..." Nice deal.
Berlin ended up being a lot less frightening than I had thought it would be. I imagined it, I supposed, to be like London, only 10 times bigger. But I never once felt like I was in danger, never once feared for my pocket book. Great! Berlin is, in some ways, like London, but it's much more spread out. In Landau, "everything" lies more or lessrestaurantswo resaurants, Leo's and Baroque (if I haven't mentioned anything about the Baroque fiasco, DON'T EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GO TO BAROQUE. At most pop in to see the interior and how it's designed, but don't become a customer), and then inner Landau stops. In Berlin, Sonia and I were amazed - and a bit confused on the inside - at how Berlin just kept going. And going, and going...Every street had something to see or do, and it was nice. I would have liked to spend more time in Berlin, but maybe only by a few days, because I get the feeling that, once I had seen all of the Museums and such, I'd be done with it. Then it would almost be like every other big city I've been to. But it's definitely visit-worthy.
For the next post I'll put up photos from Berlin. Until then...!