Monday, October 27, 2008

Berlin! Third Time's a Charm! Plus Special Bonus: Cottbus!

Whew! I spent 6 days going around Berlin, Cottbus, and Wrocław with my friends Mike & Jason (for work reasons poor Damon had to sit this trip out), then had a day to throw in some laundry and clean the bathroom before more friends, Stef & Josh (editors of The Informed Voter) arrived to spend 3 days relaxing in the lovely fall setting we have here around Heidelberg! So, I'm a bit behind.

I met up with Mike & Jason in Berlin on Friday afternoon after arriving by Deutsche Bahn (about 5 hours from Mannheim) and we wandered around the Alexanderplatz, the Nikolaiviertel, and Unter den Linden for a bit before starting on the weekend goal of consuming as many döner kebap as humanly possible - something that is unfortunately not available in their current home of NYC! This döner was at the Friedrichstraße train station and was okay. After our rather late dinner I crashed while they, still wide awake thanks to jet lag, went out to discover that the gay club scene in Berlin is perhaps a bit less tame than that in New York! (Note: link not for the especially conservative) In the morning Mike dramatically told me it was probably better that I hadn't tagged along.

Berlin Oct 08

The next morning it was off to the Ku'Damm area to check out the cakes on the top floor of KaDeWe and the Gedaechtniskirche, after which we got to watch some spontaneous public breakdancing by Berlin Skillz, who were actually pretty impressive! We watched the big goofy liquid clock in the Europa Center turn to 2:00, then rode over to meet Snooker & G at Cafe Einstein! They managed quite a feat in keeping a table free long enough for our rather late asses to show up! (Yeah, we got distracted a few times on the way...) After cake and hot beverages we wandered past the Brandenburg Gate over to the two Holocaust memorials - the larger one for Jewish victims, and a new one across the street in the Tiergarten for gay victims. Along the way we had the pleasure of meeting Snooker's wife N. as well! We continued on to a section of the Berlin Wall near the Topography of Terror, an open-air museum showing excavations of a former SS building. Afterward we wandered past Checkpoint Charlie, then Snooker showed us where to get a great döner in her neighborhood! (It turned out to be the best one of the trip!) Afterward we got some goofy ice cream treats at the mall near Potsdamer Platz (Spaghetti Eis and Hamburger Eis) before turning in for the day.

Sunday we went to Cottbus and Wroclaw (fodder for a separate post)! Cottbus was just a stop on the drive between Berlin and Wroclaw, so we figured, why not check it out? The town isn't mentioned even once in any of my guide books, leading one to think it has nothing to recommend it. I guess that's only relative to other German towns, as if you stuck Cottbus in the US, it would be a big tourist attraction with its 15th-century church, cute market square, and brick clock tower with a nice view of the region.

Cottbus Oct 08

We returned to Berlin on Tuesday afternoon and spent the rest of the day in Prenzlauer Berg, where we ate yet more döner, searched the grocery stores for Nougat Bits/Pillows/Pockets cereal, wandered all over, and took flash photos through broken basement windows. (Result: creepy.) The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in the rented apartment (including the some ever-so-healthful Kinder eggs - I think Mike actually got the prize in the photo on that site!) and went to Friedrichshain to check out a shop called Mondos Arts, which our guide book said was a trip back to East German times. I didn't find that too accurate a description. I was expecting something more like the DDR Allerlei shop that we found in Leipzig, which sold lots of goodies that were actually things available in DDR days. This shop was more nostalgic (or Ostalgic, I guess), with Ampelmann tie tacks and such. They did have a lot of videos/music from the DDR era but we were hoping for some more everyday stuff. Afterward we looked around the Karl-Marx-Allee at the buildings built during the DDR, which didn't seem to us so terribly different from some of the buildings you see in non-DDR areas, but seemed to fall into the same urban planning traps that were going on all over the place in the 50s and 60s. Then I had to catch my train back to Heidelberg!


  1. That is a good place to get Currywurst... the best Döner I have found is in the train station in Duisburg. (The owner explained to me that he uses only veal instead of lamb)

  2. Hmm, perhaps next time they are in Germany we need to drop by Duisburg to try it!

  3. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.


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