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The Sweetest thing
Rating: (5.0) (7 Votes)

Berlin, Germany
August 30th, 2004

Pros: Pretty amazing sights
Cons: 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 and vibrations.

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...