Back in Germany again...
26.08.2013 - 30.08.2013 22 °C
The next morning we managed to get up early at 05:00 and grab all of our things without waking our room mates, fortunately our hostel was setting up the free breakfast early so we managed to get a good meal before heading for the 6 hour train to Berlin. Which for some random reason went via Frankfurt to get to Berlin, look at a map, very strange!
Upon arriving at Berlin's colossal train station (which is on 4 floors, servicing both trains, the S Bahn and the U Bahn [subway/metro]), we managed to go out the correct entrance and using our pre downloaded Google map arrived at our apartment quiet easily. The apartment was a good sized, two double bedroom basement flat in a quiet street only 10 minutes from the train station. It was entirely decorated using the Ikea catalogue, something we are getting used to with every place we stay but had everything we needed. http://www.homeaway.co.uk/p2038912
After a little trip to the supermarket to stock up on plenty of tea and milk as Dad can easily drink gallons of it, as can I. We went back to the station to figure out how to get to the airport to pick up Mom and Dad. We decided to get a 5 person group day ticket which is a bargain at €16.70 for zones A, B and C it will take you all the way out to Schönefeld Airport and can be used on all S and U Bahn's (the best way other than walking to get round the city) until 03:00. If you are just seeing the tourist sights and you only need zones A and B and a single day ticket is around €7.00 so if there are 3 - 5 of you it's worth getting the group day ticket.
Mom and Dad's timing was perfect I was in need of a huge hug from both of them and to know they were both well. So when I saw them I think I must have crushed them with the hug I gave them. Luckily, as the train runs every hour, we managed to find them just in time for the train to be returning back to the main station. Dad especially was surprised how large, new and clean the train was, having not been on public transport since he passed his driving test some 40ish years ago. We were soon to squeeze in more public transport in 3 days then he had been on in his life. That night we decided we couldn't be bothered to make dinner so we took the S Bahn to Hackescher Markt where there is a good selection of restaurants and pubs filling the square with tables and chairs, they are a little touristy and the food is ok, but the atmosphere is really good especially in summer. We decided on an Italian for dinner and enjoyed steaks all round, a few drinks and of course cake. Before heading back home, Nick decided it might be nice to show Mom and Dad the Brandenburg Tor at night, so without telling them we jumped on the U Bahn and when we came out the station it was right in from of us all lit up, Dad was in awe.
The next day we were up early for another Sandeman's free walking tour, the tour guide was another great guide giving us a introduction to the history of Berlin and some of the buildings around. The tour guide focus mostly on East Berlin and took us to the Brandenburg Tor, Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial, Hitler's Bunker site, Luftwaffe Head Quarters, Remaining section of the Berlin Wall, Check Point Charlie, ending at the Berliner Dom and Museum Island. In total the tour was over 3 hours in total and I think we were all very tired after it so we stopped for a beer and grabbed lunch from the train station on our way back to get ready to met our friend Isabelle, who lives in Berlin. Isabelle took us to a funky bar on the River Spree near museum island, that had a fake beach and a dance floor where they were teaching ball room dancing. After a few drinks, pizza and some brilliant conversation Isabelle suggested walking back to the main station to take in the city at night. It was a lovely walk and nice to get a good idea of how the city all links up.
After doing so much the day before we had a lazy start and were up late. Nick managed to get up before all of us and went for a 2 hour walk in the Tiergarten (saying how much he wished he had his running gear with him), only getting lost slightly, before meeting us at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The church was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943 and is now a small (free) museum. As usual with things we really want to see it was in scaffolding (so the picture here is not ours but Google's) but you could still go in. On our way to our next stop we passed a food cart selling Bratwurst which Nick and my parents couldn't resist (you must at least have one while in Germany) and so that was lunch. After stopping for a coffee, we went back to the Holocaust Memorial and the free museum underneath it. The museum focuses on the families who went through the genocide of WWII telling the history of the Jewish people with stories of several families before and after the war using their family pictures and letters. It's well worth going to see and really brings a tear to your eyes reading the correspondence. That night we decided to stay in and cook so we headed back via the supermarket and brought supplies for grilled lamb and a huge salad.
On our final full day we decided to do a go to the Technikmuseum as it had a little of something for everyone. The place is massive and does seem to have an exhibition on all things technology but the emphasis was mostly on trains, plaines and boats, so Dad loved it! I think Mom discovered a few things of interest with the jewellery making and textiles. However the things Nick and I wanted to see were a little disappointing. The computers stopped with the invention of the CD! and the printing section (which I know is sad, but I wanted to see it as most of our kit is German or German engineering so I thought would be fun), had an old press that we happen to have a version of in our reception at work and a small section on paper making. Still we enjoyed it and while we waited for Mom and Dad to finish the section they were in, Nick and I had a sneaky coffee and cake.
Once finished at the museum we tasked Mom and Dad to get us to our next stop the Tiergarten. So they had to navigate from the museum to the U Bahn station Gleisdreieck and then on to the Tiergarten, Mom did most of it and got us there without error, Dad seemed to be bedazzled with it. Once we arrived at the Tiergarten a huge garden in the centre of Berlin, we had a nice stroll in the sun to one of the beer gardens where we stopped for a spot of lunch, all be it with the wasps. Mom wanted to go to the Berliner Dom Church, which Dad and I were not too bothered by so we split up. Nick went with Mom and Dad with me, aiming to met up at Hackescher Markt for a drink later. Dad and I ended up there straight away and sat having a drink in the sun listening to a really good street act until Mom and Nick joined us. Mom was a little disappointed by the church as she was expecting it to be much more opulent and ornate but both her and Nick said that the views from the top were great! After a few more drinks it was getting late so we decided to eat there at one of the more Germanish places. After dinner we met Isabelle again who had very kindly brought us all a little goodbye gifts. Again we had a lovely evening chatting, but it had to end soon as we had to be up to get the 07:00 train to the airport.
Too early the next morning, we were up ready to take Mom and Dad to the train station to say an emotional goodbye, making us feel the distance yet again. After our goodbye we went back and caught up on a little more sleep before packing and taking our bags to the station to put them in storage, while we got lunch. Our plan was to get lunch and find a place with Wi-Fi so we could write some of this blog but as it happen we ended up at Friedrich Straße passing a place that had a amazing looking burgers, so used the last of our money on huge burgers and coffees. Once dinner was settled in our tummies we went back to the station, picked up our bags and headed to the airport to fly to Scandinavian.