09 October 2010
The Lion's 28th Birthday weekend began at the ungodly hour of 3:15am, one of the reasons we do not love this city, as it is not just a quick 10 minute drive down the airport straight like in Invercargill, no, it is a taxi ride to a train station to get a bus that takes about an hour to the airport!! However we also love it as it provides very cheap flights to Berlin - approx £50 return. The morning began smoothly, alarm went off, taxi arrived on time, bus was there, and we got on and we headed off, VanGina was on board in fits of giggles seen as we were on the same bus and we got to the airport on time. Emma's bus pulled in at the same time as ours and we headed to the check in counter. I was beginning to get a bit mnervous as the gals had said my suitcase dimensions were looking slightly large and Ryanair are very anal which means everything has to be in one suitcase - hanbag included - and be able to fit in the wee tester things before being allopwed on to the plane. This and also realiseing I had packed my hair product which was well over 100ml, so I decided to try my luck and if they found it they found if not Abbey 1 - RyanAir nil. While we were cueing a RyanAir attendent was calling out destinations for paasengers to skip the cue as they were nearing departure times. We were nearly at the front of our cue when he called "Berlin, anyone going to Berlin" (by this stage even the cue he was calling for to process people quickly had 10 people in it, we were two from the front of ours), the Lion shot her hand up, flicked her head round and called out, "yes we are going to Berlin", gestured towards moving out of the line towards this other line before we all hauled her back and explained that it was obviousy better and quicker to wait in the line we were alreadyin, which was backed up by the staff who looked at the lion slightly strangely as the rest of us chuckled at the lions expense (not the last time that would happen).
Through customs, got away with my hair product - wasn't found, makes you think that perhaps you could get a bomb onto a plane! The next mission was to get through boarding, I think the women clicking tickets and checking cabin luggae used to work on Checkpoint Charlie holey it was hard to get on this plane with me luggage!! We had to prove that our cases could fit in the dimensions, by placing it in a steel frame. Well after a lot of pushing with a lot of force I got my bag in the hold, got the lass to look over and give me the okay, done. The next challenge was removing the bag, well this was a challenge. I had to push, pull, squirm, shimmy the bag and it still wouldn't budge, all the while Amberley, Emma were down ready to board and Liv was at the top of the escalators basically wetting her pants at my predicament! I had to ask for help and a dude came over stood on the feet of the frame and held it down as I pushed with all my might and the case finally came loose. Problem was the stupid check in Lady saw all of this and said if you cannot get it in ad out with ease you will have to pay £35 blooming heck, right back to square one!! I begged Liv for help and she trotted on over. We flipped open her case and put my handbag in it and zipped it up. I had to show th lasy that mine could fit again, boom it did and then Liv had to show that hers did. When the lady wasn't watching we tried it and it couldn't so we sneakily pulled my handbag out and put it back in mine the walked to go on, she askedsee Liv's and of course it fitted phew we went through, hot and sweaty basically last ones on and couldn't even sit together, who cares we made it!!
It was kip city all the way to Berlin and a crisp fine morning awaited us on or arrival. We headed trhough customs and I nearly lost the plot when Amberley was at the desk and the officer asked why she was visiting berlin, you know usual response is business, leisure, holiday, etc, Ambs proudly replies that she is here with her friends to celebrate her birthday anbd we are all hear for a birthday weekend, a strange look later and Ambs brain ticks over, restates a holiday and passes through, she really takes after her father supplying a novel when a short story is required but oh how we love it!! Between Ambs printed off directions and Liv's lonely planet (mainly the LP) we were able to make our way on a rail replacement bus (which was a bit of a mish to find as no one really spoke English and we had no brushed up on our German) into town and to our hostel. As it was only early - 10amish we paid for our rooms so we would only need to get the key and run down on the hostel to complete check in on return, put our bags in lock up ad headed to "the xmas markets" as Ambs referred to them, really just markets - it is only October - for some food and a nosey. Downed some delicious mushrooms in garlic sauce and a strawberry kebab covered in chocolate! From here it was onto Brandenburg Gate to begin the free walking tour. We had about 20 - 30 people in our group and Sam the tour guide from England gave us a historical tour that covered: Brandenburg gate, Hotel Adlon in the Pariser Platz (the hotel that Michael Jackson hung his baby over the over the balcony rail), Reichstag (parliament), the site of where Hitler's bunker is (still there today under a car park but no access to it), the Holocaust memorial ( highlight for me thought it was quite cool indeed), book burning memorial, check point Charlie (they have tried to recreate it so that it appears the way it might have back in the day and you can also get a stamp in your passport - this is illegal as counts as defacing your passport but some people do do it, not us though). We stopped fr a break and a hot drink as this tour is a 3.5 hour walking tour - wear comfy shoes!! I decided to have some free water and Ambs and Liv ordered coffee's. The hostess was calling out names when the drinks were ready, they called out Perry and I tapped Amberley and said yep thats you, as a joke, but she fell for it and wacks her hand up yet again and yes yep thats me, as she is saying this she clicks that oh hang on a minute my name is not Perry, the rest of us in hysterics point out that no it wasn't but it sure as heck is gonna be and Ambs was aptly named Perry for the duration of our trip. From here we continued on our tour and covered other areas and sights including the SS headquarters, the Berlin wall (part of it), Museum Island where we finished our tour and gave tips to our tour guide - some of us more than others . . Emma! Ha no we gave approx £5 each which was prob a lil bit stingy but that's Kiwi's for you!
We strolled on back to our hostel and went to complete checkin, although Perry rocks on over to the check in dude and declares that we have already checked in and just needed our key and finished off her statement with a head flick that is better than a Wella Sassoon advert. Once again Perry was receiving weird looks an once again we were in fits of laughter. He clearly pointed out we had only paid not checked in. Once we went through the swift process and headed up to our 10 bedded dorm. It was very spacious we had some male looking belongings on one side of the room but no males to be seen, 5 spare beds and two asian lasses. We dibsed our beds and headed down to the bar from some much awaited refreshments! Boy you have to love hostel bars and their bargain deal - 2 for 1 carlsbergs, €1 shots of jager, 2 jager bombs for €4.50, bottles of wine for €12 so it was fair to say we got nestled in and comfortable, then Emma told the bar man it was the lion's bday which resulted in a free cocktail for the lion which was green and had a slight thai green curry taste to it, and further reductions on drinks and after happy hour continued access to happy hour prices!!!!! Ambs shouted us the yummiest tea ever haha it was like a lil picnic as we had gotten soo comfortable we decided to eat in, this consisted of a lot of french fries, Emma's fav - squid rings, spring rolls and even more chips! We decided it was time to tidy ourselves up considering we had been in our clothes since 3am and then hit the town. We decided to go out in our hood (we were stating in the Alexanderplatz area) and hit up a bar called. . . WHITETRASH! This was a cool bar that was underground and played every single song Ambs just happened to be in love with!!! So some of us danced the night away, some, drank the night away, some even pashed the night away . . . but thats another story.We trapesed on home about 3 via a kebab shop and then thanks to Olivia got home, not lost as the other 3 of us would have had us, no sense of direction at all, well certainly not at 3am half shickered!
10 October 2010
A few thirsty kiwis got up and shimmied on down to the bar for breakfast- the usual cereal, toast, cheese, salami, juice and hot drinks! We were a bit slow off the mark today Emma struggling to get out of bed from breaky or until all of us had showered so Liv andhit the bar for one coffee and one beer - no need to guess who was drinking which. Once the team had arrived we headed off in search of food. We went to a cafe just near Hackescher Markt where we were confronted and served by the b****iest waitress I have ever met and had we not been so hungry and lazy we may have just left!! I took the lead in the directions seat today and lead us to what I believed to be the meeting point for the 'alternative walking tour'. It wasn't until we were disembarking te train, 4 stops from where we were that we, or should I say Liv asked where I read that this was the meeting point. Upon reading the map and brochure more closely we realised we needed to go all the way back to where we had come from and just walk down the street a bit for our tour . . . ooops! Hah lucky we had time to spare and finally made it! The alternative city tour cost €12 each and went for 4hours. This tour explored the gritty, grungy underground of the city demonstrating the clash between corporate expansion and counter-culture. We got to see the side of Berlin most tourists don't see visiting and exploring graffiti and street art, back streets, abandoned ruins, urban conflict zones, punks, squats and finished at the east side art gallery - 1km of the Berlin wall now used to display murals with the theme of peace. Very cool and different slants on how the artists have portrayed peace def worth a visit!! Earlier in the tour we had spied some good restaurants and bars back in Oranienburger strabe so we headed back via number of trains to a yummy thai/Malaysian/Indonesian/Indian restaurant. The food was absolutely without a doubt the yummiest and for this very reason I was not letting the waiter clear it until it was gone, so when he asked if we were finished instead of giving him a polite no, the happy hour 2 for 1 iced tea cocktails took a hold of me and I instead told Tony (as his name badge displayed, thought it would be better to be n a first name basis) to "keep his dirty eyes off my food". Luckily though I had judged Tony to e up for a bit of laugh and he became our entertainment for the night. We used Emma's trick of explaining it was Ambs birthday and once again got free drinks, shots and sparklers!! One of the other wiaters was a bit of a cat too and when I called him by his name he announced his name which was something like Ababu, declared his name was bond, james bond. Emma though two could play at that game and stands up and declares her name is emma, james emma!! Sorry Em's couldn't not tell that one. So our group now consisted of James (no longer ever referred to as Emma), Perry, VanGina and me! After we had paid up we trotted back over the road to one of the cool bars we discovered that arvo. We took some photos and looked around and decided we would head home to get changed and then go clubbing, but were stopped, quite shockingly to Ambs, by Gerrald a dude from Berlin she worked with in London, the thing is Ambs thought he was just some crazy dud living in a squat and pretty much crapped her pants and jumped 10 feet off the ground!! Luckily it was Gerrald and we decided to join him for a few bevies, which turned into a few more which turned into walking home at 4am!!
We were up an packed, again with James dragging the chain, we missed breaky so after storing our bags with the hostel we went to BK where we were sure we would endure better service than we had with Miss b****y yesterday. Good ol trusty BK. We decided to go back to Brandenburg gates to get some pictures which we didn't manage to get previously. The trains were up and running today so after collecting our bags we headed out to the airport for the swiftest check in ever experienced!! We even managed to whip past BK for a choco milkshake and didn't have to go through the same debarkle with my bag as we did in London phew!!
Great weekend in Berlin, highly recommend it and a weekend would be sufficient!!