Sunday, September 4, 2022

First Day in Berlin

We all woke up refreshed and excited to explore a new city, but first things, first; we had to eat! In the apartment, there is a convection/microwave oven, and since Cindy bought some eggs at the market last night, we decided to boil them! Bahahaha

Do you think we could figure out how to work it? Nope! Mateo even showed us, but we could not figure it out. So now what? Being resourceful, I started searching for an electric tea kettle; a stable in Europe.

Once I found it, we loaded the eggs into it, and filled it with water; hit start and got that water boiling. Did that a few times, and let them sit, and Voila! Hard-boiled eggs.

Of course, we didn't eat them and opted to go out into the neighborhood and see what we could find, instead. We were drawn to the big, red umbrellas, which was a Tapas restaurant. We sat down and were met by a lovely German couple.

We took a stab at communicating and ordered six different tapas; they were all AMAZING! It was so nice to sit outside and enjoy ourselves in a nice, quiet, German neighborhood, with the added benefit of non-tourist prices.

Next, we headed to the Metro, which was only a few blocks away. We hopped on, without a ticket as the kiosk wouldn't work, figuring we would deal when we got off, only to find there were no turnstiles there either. Three stops away and we headed out to look for a Hop On; Hop Off bus to get an overview of the city. 

We looked left and right, and saw a HUGE monument, with something gold, on the top, maybe an angel? I figured it must be a stop on the Hop On, Hop Off, and I was right! The bus driver got off the bus and said it would be 30 euros to ride, but if we just stayed on the bus for the entire tour, (two hours) then he would accept 15 euros, which worked for us as it was already 1:30. That way we would get an overview of the entire city and have a clue what to do with our day tomorrow.

The monument that we were standing in front of is the Victory Column: Grosser Stern. This monument was designed by Heinrich Strack in 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Second Schleswig War. It consists of polished red Swedish granite, four bronze reliefs, 16 granite columns, a glass mosaic, 20 gilded gun barrels, more columns, and a gilded statue of Victoria. It is HUGE!

While crossing the street in our neighborhood, we saw some girls, hopping in front of traffic, at a red light, Hoola hooping, and twirling batons. One way to make a buck!

We passed a large sculpture that looked like broken chains, meant to symbolize the severed connections between West and East Germany due to the construction of the Berlin wall. So much history. 

Even though we weren't supposed to be able to "hop off" our bus driver said we could if we were really fast.

In the middle of Berlin is a really, really old Memorial church called the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The ruin of the church has been converted into a war memorial. It was originally built in the 1890s and badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The damaged spire has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall. The mosaics inside are amazing.

We drove by numerous buildings with incredible architecture and ended up at what remains of the Berlin Wall. It is crazy to think that the wall was built and taken down during my lifetime. What is left is a small portion of the concrete wall, with rebar sticking through it. 

Checkpoint Charlie was just down the road and is now much more of a tourist destination than a reminder of the border crossing between East and West Germany. 

As we continued on the tour, we drove past embassies, cathedrals, and museums, all looking fabulous and likely where we will visit tomorrow.

After we got off of the bus, we traipsed around a beautiful park and made our way back to the apartment.

We relaxed for a bit and headed to dinner. We found a restaurant not far from home, and were so happy with our choice! I even talked the waiter into giving me schnitzel and spaetzle, with onions and bacon, on one plate, which was quite remarkable, as it was two separate dishes. Both were delicious! The most tender, juicy chicken ever, and the spaetzle was heavenly.

I think we will be back there for dinner, again, tomorrow.

That's it for now, I am stuffed, and pooped!

Night, y'all!

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