First full day (and it’s raining)

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Berlin

It has been a funny day today, I think mostly because I’ve felt a bit off colour like I am starting with a cold or something. I didn’t feel ill, just not right and very, very tired. The weather didn’t help by being that persistent sort of spitting rain, on and off all day, and you’re never quite sure whether to have your brolly up or down. The tiredness wasn’t due to lack of sleep ‘cos the bed was very, very comfy. Breakfast was included in the room rate and was the usual continental mixture of rolls and cheese and cold meats and stuff like that (and yes, there was Nutella).

After brek I walked back down the now well-trodden path and caught the 100 bus from outside the Zoological Garden
station. On the way I called in the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirch, or at least what was left of it after the Allied air forces had finished with it. I am not a church-visiting person, but it was free and lots of tourists seemed to be going in and out so I thought I’d check it out. This is the same church that I photographed a corner illuminated last night, and it was interesting to see it in daylight, with the unashamedly modern part alongside the damaged original church. I am glad I visited as it must have been spectacular judging by the remaining ceiling panels and interior. I was particularly taken by two large dioramas showing that part of Berlin before the war and the present day. It was fascinating to see how much of the medieval town had been swept away by the bombs and replaced by modernist buildings and wide roads.

One of the damaged wall mosaics inside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church – it is easy to see how magnificent the church interior must have once been.

Anyway on to the bus station; The 100 bus is well-known and in all the guidebooks so there were a few people hanging around the bus stop. By luck I managed to get on board nearly first, straight up the stairs (it’s a double decker!) and get the front window seat. The 100 bus route follows pretty much the same route as all the tour buses, so you get to see all the sights for next to nowt. €2.70 if you’re paying, nothing if you’ve already bought a pass like me. Amongst the amazing things I saw from the top deck was the bus stop at the exact opposite end of the road with my hotel on, which would have saved me a 15 min walk (but then again I wouldn’t have got the front seat or been in the church if I had). I forgot to take pictures on the bus, plus it was spitty raining and misting up, but I did get one of the British Embassy.

A view of the well protected British Embassy from the top deck, front seat of the 100 bus.

Many of the embassies seem to be clustered round Unter-den-Linden, and some of them are huge. However, only the British one seems to have the road closed off outside though. The bus ran all the way to Alexanderplatz in the East side of the city, right under the enormous TV tower, the Fernsehturm. I didn’t bother inquiring about going up the tower since it’s such a grey day and I think it’s best saved for when you can see.

View of the Fernsehturm from outside the Dom (cathedral). Berlin taxis all seem to be beige.

From Alexanderplatz walked back to the Dom (cathedral) but didn’t actually go inside, (not free!), instead opting for the DDR museum next door. That was pretty brilliant, although it was packed with people due to the mizzling weather I suspect. It was a museum of life in East Berlin under communism and apart from a lot of stuff, nearly all the exhibits were interactive. So open a cupboard door and there would be a telly inside showing someone doing something, for example, a cookery programme for the period. They had an entire reconstructed flat in there and frankly with the gadgets and the 70’s wallpaper it didn’t look that different from an episode of “The Likely Lads”. They even had a lovely Trabant you could sit in. I actually spotted half a dozen Trabbies today, obviously pottering about for the tourists. No pictures from inside the museum sadly, as it didn’t really lend itself, and disappointingly no picture of the stretch Trabbie I clocked on the other side of the road heading for a wedding!

I had a spot of lunch nearby in a covered arcade and hand-fed some sparrows – incidentally everyone so far speaks or understands English, and all the signs and stuff in museums are in German and English, so it’s been dead easy for a useless person like me. After lunch I wandered round museum island (between two streams of the Spree, just like the Île de la Cité in Paris with the Notre Dame on). Found lots of statues of naked ladies. The Germans seem to like them. Can’t say I disapprove.

Statue of naked lady overlooking the Spree.
Statue of naked lady on museum island.

I didn’t fancy going in any museums though as I was feeling a bit heady, so wandered slowly, with many detours to look at things that caught my eye, back to Alexanderplatz and caught the U-bahn for home. That turned into a bit of a ‘mare because there was obviously a footy match on at the Olympic Stadium today and guess where my train went? Bloody rammed it was though I didn’t spot my English lederhosen travelling companions from the day before. I was glad to get out at my stop. I called in the local supermarket on the way up and bought lots of snacks and stuff (mostly bottles of drinks) and called it an early night.

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