So by this far into the trip, it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve last been to Germany (short little layover in Frankfurt), and it’s finally to Berlin from Prague. In high school, for our Germany trip then, we stuck mostly to the southern parts of Germany, as our teacher was wanted to expose us to the more “German” part of Germany versus the international big city you see in Berlin. I understood but still wasn’t too happy, as we’d be traveling across the Atlantic, but not see the capital of the country we’re going to? Now that I’ve been, it makes a bit more sense.
While I already knew that I wouldn’t have enough time in Berlin, I intentionally cut short my short stay here to grab an extra night in Prague and the hotel room. Privacy really comes at a premium when you’re trying to travel on a budget (a budget that I did not entirely adhere to; more on that later). I got into Berlin on the 12th at 5pm and left on the 13th at 2 pm. Not even 24 hrs in the German capital. And guess what. It was raining the night I got in. Hardly a surprise now. And I ended up sitting under shelter for an hour to try and wait out the sunset so I could get some night photography action in.
Because everyone has the generic centered front facing picture of famous landmarks, I tried to go slightly off for a little bit. I’m particularly happy with the Berliner Dom photo as this was like a 7″ shot taken literally from the ground (that’s why you see more of that soft effect with the fountain).
This wandering of photos kinda coincided with the main cluster of attractions to visit in Berlin, as again, I knew I didn’t have much time and wanted to see as much as I could, especially in a city with such rich history with relative infancy in terms of reunification; similar to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Berlin wall came down in just 1989. I love seeing Germany try to balance leaving the historical reminders of the pains they’ve suffered while trying to move forward into the 21st century respectfully mindful of their past. The walking tour guide joked that some part of Berlin will always be under construction as they continue to lead Germany (and the EU, really) into the future.
But uh. Germany. Food. While I’ve been enjoying Hungarian and Czech foods, there’s always a craving for wurst, and I find myself only mildly enjoying curry wurst, preferring more the full meaty flavor of a bratwurst or käsekrainer as I had in Vienna. The curry ketchup seems to drown out the wurst flavor. But maybe that’s just me.
I also had a döner for the first time in nearly a decade. We were first exposed to this deliciousness again during our Germany trip in high school (December 2007). And here I am having one again in Aug 2016. It tasted as good as a memory could recall flavors, and it’s even better now that I can either have it to satiate a drunk appetite, or to wash it down afterwards with more beer. Thanks Yelp for guiding me to a pretty good one.
The walking tour I did on the following day was in some parts disappointing, again because it too tried to fit the close cluster of history together, and it pretty much overlapped everything that I saw the night before, just with some additional backstory for things I wasn’t aware of (which is what I want right?). But I still would’ve liked to see some other things, because Berlin is so much bigger than what I saw.
Sidenote: #DL2GER16 is happening in late October. It was finalized while I was on this trip. Idk. It’ll be fun, I’m sure. And that’s when I’ll hopefully have a longer taste of Berlin. I really haven’t told anyone yet lol.
The walking tour guide that I had for Berlin was actually Australian, and it wasn’t too bad getting around her accent. Another quick tangent, I met two pair of Aussie travelers, two guys and two gals, and they each were doing a 3 month Europe trip. WOW. I could only wish. But one tone I did get from our tour guide was that, with the ongoing influx of tourists who’ve come to see what Berlin once was and what Berlin could someday become, there’s a lot of disrespect going around. Checkpoint Charlie is manned with actors playing soldiers, armed with various hats and flags for you to use as props for a photo, prior to which they demand money from you, and people are more than happy to pay up and dress up for the photo op. There’s also a very large abstract Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe complete with 2,711 concrete slabs, and there’s people just running and jumping around on top. Eh.
Hopped out of Berlin and into Dortmund for the Supercup of Borussia Dortmund vs FC Bayern Munich. Most football (read: soccer) fans don’t like this “Supercup” matchup because it’s just an extra exhibition game between the Bundesliga winner and the DFB-pokal tournament winner (or in this case, if the winners are the same (FCB), then BuLi runner up is the other opponent (Dortmund)). But the BuLi and DFB-pokal matches are done at the end of the season, and the Supercup is done at the beginning of the following season, when players and coaches have changed teams. Whatever. It was a chance for me to see the top two German football clubs have a go, and it was 40 € for a ticket. Yes, not cheap if traveling on a budget, but prices could’ve been a lot worse.
I had a whole saga of madness for this match, which could’ve been prevented had I been prepared. Which is really weird, because I usually am prepared for most things, but had neglected to really take care of this, which is that a print@home ticket really means to print your damn ticket at home. This was a Sunday match, and I was frantically trying to find a place to print, but almost everything was closed in Dortmund on a Sunday. Copy services, malls, restaurants… I don’t get it. My AirBnB host had a printer with no ink, so that wasn’t helpful either. I went to the ticket counter at the stadium, and they said they couldn’t help. I tried getting in with my phone, and while security waved me through, the barcode scanner turnstiles wouldn’t read my phone, so attendants there told me to go to Clearinghouse, where the guy said he couldn’t help me either. God, stadium staff are pretty useless.
So I started to take a long dejected walk back home, but tried my luck with hotels, asking if they could help me print. No dice. Tried a convenience store, and I was told to go to an internet cafe open 24 hours. Omg. So I ran the 850m over, asked in my spotty German if I could print, and paid 1 € to get it done. I ran down to the nearest metro station, and saw that it was 10 minute wait, after which I’d still have to transfer stations to get back to the Stadium. So I ran the 1.1km to the closest metro station on the correct line, and was in my seat just 7′ into the game. Considering I had all but given up on attending the match, I was pretty ecstatic to make it in. The unfortunate thing is that, I read that Signal Iduna Park doesn’t allow backpacks, so I left mine and my camelbak at home. So all this running and finally making it to the stadium meant I was hot and tired in my jeans, had no water, and had no dinner. So that was a little unpleasant.
Then after looking like the better team for the first half and fighting to a 0-0 HT score, Dortmund lost 2-0 to Bayern. And Bayern had a guy elbow a Dortmund player, and not get sent off for it. Bad game man. But awesome atmosphere. The announced crowd seemed to be just over listed capacity, at 81,360 attendance versus 81,359 on wiki. But to see the crowd actively engaged in the match for the whole 90′ is so much different than a football game back home. Too cool.
Bad lighting. Nosebleeds. Best selfie I could do lol. Taken right before halftime ended.
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