(5.0) (7 Votes)
August 30th, 2004
Pros: Pretty amazing sights
Hostel opening hours!!
Imagine, if you will: awakening to someone calling you Morgan and
firing rapid instructions at you in a language you can't even begin
to make heads or tails of in a conscious state, let alone when you've
only just nodded off to the gentle rocking of the railway not two
hours before. Now imagine it's five am. You've just left the hannibus-filled
air of Amsterdam for the drizzly streets of Berlin. You have only
the name and phone number of the hostel you've booked for the night,
along with a cartoon map of the city that shows several of the sights
in great detail, but somehow left out all the street names. You've
managed to get through to the hostel and scribble down what you
think are the street names and train numbers given to you in very
broken English, and you miraculously find yourself at the proper
station, only to discover you've gone out the wrong exit and can't
find any of the streets you think you're supposed to be on.
Now imagine you've finally stumbled upon your hostel after circling
the blocks around it for over an hour, and you're so relieved you
could almost cry. Except the man behind the desk tells you you can't
check in for six more hours....
Such was my first morning in Berlin. But as they do, things progressively
picked up from there. Exhausted and ragged as I was, I wandered
about the city a bit and happened upon some pretty amazing sights.
Just outside the Zoo station is the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church;
the once-grand cathedral bombed in 1943 and left in disrepair as
a memorial, and added to by two octagonal modern chapels whose walls
are made up entirely of deep blue stained glass given to the Germans
by the French as reconciliation. I stepped into this modern annex
to the sounds of a powerful pipe organ, and bathed in the blue light
From Zoo, I trekked out to the East End Gallery; the longest remaining
section of the wall still standing. In 2000, much of the original
artwork was restored. Quite moving, to say the least.
After a long nap and a shower (when they finally let me in to the
hostel), I met Will, Alan, and Dave from Preston, England (near
Manchester) and the four of us tried out a cafe and several bars
in the part of the city called Mitte. I like this town. I think
I might stay a while...