Day 2 addendum. I forgot that we did more things on day 2… We were jet-lagged and busy and enjoying being able to walk around drinking beer on the street. Thank goodness for pictures otherwise I would not be able to remember anything that we did…
When I left off yesterday we were at Checkpoint Charlie. We walked over to Kunsthaus Tacheles, a former center of Berlin art. The first time AllesGirl and HerSpouse visited Berlin it was open for tours and they said that walking through was pretty trippy. It closed in 2012 but the outside is still covered with lots of great stuff. I kept looking for Banksy images but I don’t think I found any; it didn’t stop me from taking pictures of anything that struck me as clever. After all that
graffiti art we went to an Indian restaurant across the street and stuffed ourselves full of food. THEN, we stopped by a couple of bars because you’re only young once and I was going to be a year older in the morning.
Day 3. My birthday dawned bright and much too early. Jet lag was making itself felt (yeah, it must have been the jet lag). AllesGirl had to go to work in the late morning so we all drug ourselves to breakfast at a nearby restaurant. I perked up when my yummy smoked salmon crepe and giant bowl of coffee arrived (most mornings it’s tea for me; this was not one of those mornings). I perked up even more when My Better Half brought out a present he had sneakily stashed in our shared suitcase – a hammock and handy hanging straps from these guys. To understand the significance of this gift you have to know about me and hammocks: I absolutely love them. If there’s a hammock around you can be pretty sure I will be in it. It’s just one of those things that make me happy, content, and relaxed. Now I had my very own, anytime, anywhere hammock! I was beyond excited.
We trundled AllesGirl off to work with plans to meet up later in the day and then HerSpouse, My Better Half and I set off for the Olympic Stadium. Everything in Berlin is easy to get to on the trains and we were there in 20 minutes. If you’re ever visiting Berlin I would highly recommend visiting the Olympiastadion (not that I wouldn’t recommend anything else we did… however, the Olympiastadion is a little way outside of Berlin proper so one might be tempted to give it a miss. Don’t.). For a 7 euro entrance fee we had virtually unrestricted access to the complex. There are many interpretive signs placed at points of note which give a good feeling for the history of the place. It’s beautifully and sensitively done. The building itself is amazing; so many angles and repeating patterns that we had a field day with the camera. After ogling the architecture we decided to hang the hammock on the second level so I could have a bit of a swing. A security guard walked by in the two minutes it took to set up. We just tried to look as official as possible and he didn’t ask us any questions.
Zum Schloss! Reeling from the spectacular stadium we made our way to a castle, possibly Charlottenburg. I’m usually pretty good with directions and names but I stopped keeping track of where we were going, especially since we refreshed ourselves with giant mugs of beer a few blocks away. The castle was beautiful, although we didn’t go inside, and the grounds were extensive. I was especially taken with the statuary on top of the castle. Why did some of them not have faces? We had spent too much time at the stadium and had one more thing to see before we met up with AllesGirl. Oohing and aahing over the castle-y goodness we walked back to the U Bahn for our train ride to the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial is the remains of a church that was bombed during WWII and has been partially restored/preserved. It is a small jewel-box of a chapel and must have been remarkably beautiful.
Birthday Night. We met up with AllesGirl and wandered down to the Spree. The Berlin Festival of Light was going to be in full swing in a few days and we could see lights flashing in the distance – a green laser zoomed over our heads as we walked through the dark. We found a small cafe on the banks of the river and sat in the charming atmosphere of the Van Gogh Bar, sipping hot drinks. Sometimes a river barge would float by, projecting light shows onto the buildings. I could not have asked for a better birthday…