Greetings from Berlin where my biggest frustration has been trying to get Internet access on my iPad. I had the same issue in London at my friends house but finally got it. never had any issues in Peru, when I last used it in a foreign land. I did go to a computer store nearby and the guy pressed one button and charged me 15 euros. I thought he was joking. But no.
Anyway, I walked myself silly today and although I made several wrong turns, after awhile I started to understand the lay of the land, literally, and how the various u Bahn and S Bahn trains connect, plus the 100 and 200 Buses, which are cross town buses, doubledecker no less, that offer a great respite from walking long straight streets and some terrific scenery.
I am still trying to work out where “the wall” ran and what is east vs. West Berlin. But it was intriguing to see bits of the wall here and there – the bits by the now super modern Potsdam Platz appear to be covered not only with graffiti but wads of chewing gum. A lot of Berlin requires a better imagination than I have so you can see ugly wall where there are now huge modern buildings and Hitlers bunker where there is now what appears to be an apartment block. ( Right across the street from the other women only hotel I was thinking of staying at, Intermezzo.) while Berlin has its imposing older monuments, the Brandenburg Gate, the post WW2 communist architecture and the 21st century monuments, most notably the Holocaust memorial (which got me choked up as I found myself wandering deep inside the maze of bar slabs of grey stone, laid out in a dizzying number of fluctuating heights) are really the most captivating. Anywhere else, say Chicago and its Cabrini Green housing complex, these bleak concrete slab buildings might be knocked down. But here they are a source of fascination, maybe even pride, a historical record of the brutality of communism. This seemed particularly the case around Alexanderplatz, with its famous bizarre Jetsonesque tv tower and strange mosaics and painted murals on occasional communist era buildings. I also find myself looking at the graffiti differently, as another historic artifact. So that is interesting because architecture I would gave dismissed and graffiti I would have disdained at home, is here in Berlin a surprising source of fascination.
So far, I am enjoying staying at this women only hotel. As I type outside on the fifth floor rooftop overlooking the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorff area, three women in their sixties, from Canada, Germany and Australia are talking about life, carrying for elderly parents, their adventures as retirees, where to eat dinner, which U and S bahn stations have the most stairs.
I did have my fix of grilled Bavarian coarse fried sausages, mashed potatoes and sweet cooked cabbage that I remember eating in Munich and even had a midday (Augustiner Hell) beer at Augustiner Gendarmenmarket, a lovely reconstructed square. When in Rome. But I cannot seem to bring myself to eat curry wurst…which looks even worse than I thought: sausages served with curry powder and then, even worse, ketchup. Ick.
Other interesting sights: a guy juggling while riding a unicycle in front of traffic stopped at a busy intersection (when the traffic started, he put out his collection hat and got out of the way);eight or so tourists riding some awkward contraption that they sat atop in a circle and peddled; tons of cyclists and tourists on bikes, which seems the best way to see everything. Hope to do that!!