Our train arrived in Berlin around 9am, and were picked up from the station by Patrick - a friend from Uni who is now working over there. He dropped us off at his appartment (which was LOVELY) before leaving us and going to work. It was so nuice to be out of a hostel for the first time! Thanks again Patrick!!!!
We freshened up and walked to the nearest U-Bahn to get ourselves to Alexanderplatz, where the TV tower is. We were looking for a bike tour of the city, as Patrick advised it was probably the easiest and quickest way to see the main sites, as our time there was so limited. However, on the way, we bumped into a free walking tour called "The Alternative Berlin", who take groups around the less obvious sights around the city, working on a Tips basis. We decied to go with them instead, and save the bikes for the next day.
It was really cool! The focus was mainly on street art and graffiti in and around Berlin, which is totally new for me (those of you from school will remember I was never much of an Artist, being less than inspired with the teaching offerings of Mr. Giles...THE STEG - haha Emily!!!). However, I enjoyed what we were shown.....some of the work of major international street artists, how to recognise their work, their styles and what some of the messages within the art are. We were taken to a Squat full of artists selling their work, which was really cool. Again another perfect example of when we both wished we weren't confined to our backpacks.....could;ve bought quite a lot of what we saw!!! The next stop on the tour was to the weirdest shop in Europe. It was called K76, and its specialities were....outdoor and camping equipment.....and....herbal highs!?!!
The guy in there was a real old-school tripper, harping on about "real" absinthe...which he happended to sell! It's called Serpis Absinthe, and has a higher percentage of the wormwood (?) in it than most other brands sold. Anyway...suckers that we are, we fell for it and decided to give it a go. We both had a shot, and to do it from stone cold sober in the middle of the afternoon was new to me!!! Not a bad effect though, as the next hour of the trip I felt decidedly giddy!
We ended up at Casseopeia, a cool skate park / climbing wall complex , where we had a beer and paid our guide to say thanks.
That evening we went for dinner with Patrick to a yummy mexican restaurant, with the best part being their 3.50 cocktails! A couple went down swimmingly with dinner, which was followed by some more drinks and a club! Patrick bought us all a Molotov Cocktail....the signature drink friom one of the bars we went to, which was served in a tall bottle with a flaming sugar cube balanced on the top! Tasted really good....and really potent - and must have done a good job on us all, because en route to the nightclub, we all got on the wrong train and ended up a few stops down the line in the wrong direction! OOPS!!!!
The next day was very lazy (for "lazy", read "hungover"!) until 4pm, when Luke and I went into town to do the Fat Tire Bike Tour of the city. We had a German/American tour guide who was uber-enthusiastic, but gave a great history of the city! We saw parts of the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, etc. We finished off with food and beer at a beer garden, but I was glad when the tour finished at 8pm, as I was not only SHATTERED, but also freezing cold, as had typically dressed myself inappropriately for the weather....I blame the hangover!
We went to the cinema to watch Inglorious Basterds, which I'm sure I enjoyed....that is until I fell asleep about 45mins before the end......I blame the hangover.
The next day we were very kindly driven to the airport by Patrick.....next stop - St. PETERSBURG!!!