Originally published 31 December 2015
Inside of the Sony Center, Berlin
We arose this morning to a city awash in the debris from too much partying. The train station looked more like a set of that Walking Dead show than a transport hub. There were people asleep all over the place, while at least 8 street cleaners were on the plaza out front cleaning up fireworks debris with brooms, street cleaning machines, and rakes. It was quite the party last night.
I didn't post yesterday as we were out in the city until nearly midnight and had to leave early this morning. We're on a ICE (high speed train) to Frankfurt right now and it is quite civilized. Anytime you can travel by train and have a high speed connection...it's great! The Germans are like that.......
Yesterday, we decided to head out to a different part of the city, several miles west of the Mitte (middle) where we were staying. It is kind of...suburban....at least by German standards. It is still mostly apartment buildings and such, but there are more open spaces and no true high rises. There is also not the density of stores and commercial establishments. It's much quieter than the main city and I can see how it would be an easier place to live and raise kids.
Olympic stadium Berlin
We get to our stop and get off....I've talked Laurie into seeing the U-Bahn (subway) museum! Google said it was open today so we're gonna check it out! Guess what. Google lied to me!!! After riding all this way out into the "boonies" we can't go in. The stop is at "Olympic Stadium". We decide to wander up and check it out since we're already out here.
It turns out that this is THE Olympic stadium from the 1936 "Nazi" Olympics. You know, the one where Hitler wanted to show the world the superiority of the master race and a guy named Jesse Owens made him look like a fool. THAT Olympic stadium!
I enjoyed it much more than several of the museums we went to. It was an actual place where history occurred. Places like that have a different feel to them as compared to a collection of artifacts. It's like looking at the moon and going to the moon. You see similar things but it just ain't the same....
We wandered the grounds and the stadium itself. This is another one of those times we were in a place where major historical things had happened.....and this one we basically stumbled across. It was really cool and we enjoyed it quite a bit! We wandered and took in history.
We head back into town and do a bit of shopping. It seems Laurie liked the coat I bought enough to go back and get one for herself. After that, a nice dinner, and we decide to go back to the apartment and put things in order before we head out for the evening. It is, after all, 5:30 p.m.
The locals are not deterred by the fact that it is only 5:30 p.m. Fireworks are going off consistently and constantly all around us. They are sold at stands all over the city and the folks here came to play. We see lots of fire crackers, roman candles, and the occasional rocket bouncing off a building and going off in the street or on a sidewalk. You have to pay attention for sure.
After getting our things together, we venture out again. While the locals all warned us to stay away from the Brandenburg gate area, we decide to go take a look. Be aware that we never expected to wade into the 1 million (not an error) people at the celebration. We just wanted to take a look at the edges. This is exactly what we did.
Pop up fireworks shops are everywhere
It seemed as if everyone in Berlin was there, and they brought all their relatives. There were stands on the street selling hot beverages, gluhwein, beer, and champagne. We were basically following the crowds and had decided that when it got too crazy, we would turn back. It turns out that was exactly what we did.
The crowd we were wandering with reached an entry gate to the Tiergarten, the main park in Berlin. The Tiergarten is huge, 850 acres total. When we reached the gate, the police came on a loudspeaker truck and said that the area serviced by that gate was full to capacity. They then said to go 1/2 a kilometer west and try to get in that gate. We chose not to do that and turned back.
We rode the U Bahn and trams to different parts of the city, taking in the madness. Fireworks were being set off on any spot of land more than 5 x 5. The whole city smelled like cordite and smoke was drifting everywhere. When at Alexanderplatz, there was so much smoke from the fireworks that you could see clouds of it in the spotlights lighting the tower, hundreds of feet up.
Amateur fireworks on a city street
We eventually decide to grab a bit to eat at my favorite restaurant in Berlin, Rosenthaler Grill und Schlemmerbuffet. It is a doner kebap place with pizza and other things. I apparently had a local reader who emailed me criticizing me for spelling "doner" incorrectly. I didn't use the German spelling as it has an umlaut, or two dots above the letter "o". Getting an umlaut on an american keyboard takes about 5 different actions and I can never get it to work. So for anyone that wants to criticize my spelling of German words.....mellow out.
We get back to the apartment about 11:30. It was a good thing as the fireworks are ramping up and it's getting kinda crazy out there. We actually watch the celebration from the Brandenburg gate from our apartment. As midnight hit and the city went batshit crazy, we patted ourselves on the back for our decision to literally stay out of the line of fire. We finish our packing and head to bed.
We get up early and board a bus for the train station. We ride through a city covered in empty bottles and expended fireworks. Berlin has been good to us and the local people treated us well. We have had a great time in Berlin. Perhaps we will make it back again.
We board our train and head to Frankfurt. One more stop and we're on an airplane home. I have a several random photos of Berlin that show a little about what it is like to live here. We're on the train and have the time.
Berlin Day 5 Slide Show
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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