Berlin – a tale of two cities
After stupidly falling asleep last night I got up early to see as much of the city as I could in the limited time available.
Far from being a city of former East and West, I found Berlin had many other contrasts during the day.
I wandered down to Checkpoint Charlie, just a couple of minutes from the hostel, and walked around viewing the route of the wall and other information about successful and not so successful crossings until I decided to take an open top bus tour.
The guys in the hostel had recommended the red bus tour, and whilst standing beside a red bus, I bought a ticket from the young girl standing there, I went to get on the bus and she said “That’s not our bus, that’s our bus” pointing to the yellow one behind, “Bugger” I thought, should have realised her yellow T shirt wasn’t for the red bus company. The reason for my dismay was the red busses had a human guide, whereas the yellow ones only had an electronic monotonic audio guide.
This, as I was to find, was next to useless, the headphones fitted poorly and it wasn’t possible to turn them up loud enough. It may sound petty, as the city is beautiful, but it just took the edge off the tour, especially as I was sitting next to a particularly loud woman, who kept answering her phone and I’m guessing explaining in whatever language she was speaking that she was on a bus in Berlin, still, the thought of the old Dom Joly sketch kept me sane for the time being. So a simple tip to future visitors, take the red bus, not the yellow one!
The afternoon saw me take a meander around the Hackescher Markt area in the vain search for an area of the city that wasn’t destroyed during the war, sadly due to either misinformation, or my poor detective skills, I couldn’t find it.
I decided to visit the Fernsehturm, the TV transmitter tower, and go to the viewing platform to get an aerial view of the city, once up there I decided to eat in the revolving restaurant, a very strange experience indeed.
Once back at the hostel I used the free wifi access to look for Salsa bars and found one in the north called Soda. After hopping on the Ubahn I got off and tried to find the bar, this is when I met a guy who couldn’t have been more helpful by actually walking me to the bar. It would have been rude not to offer him a beer, so we stood and had a beer and a chat.
The Soda bar looked fantastic, there were plenty of dancers and the style looked Cuban again. This, however, was where I was to find another contrast. It was very difficult to get any one to dance, I’ve never received so many rejections in one evening. Very disheartening, the evening was saved by a Spanish girl and a crazy Polish girl, amongst others, who deemed me worthy to dance with them and we had a few great dances.