It was tough leaving Munich. Alex and Kerstin were absolutely fantastic. Our train ride from Munich to Berlin was a lengthy 6 hours but that was ample time for me to further run up our cribbage score. 35-25
Tell me someone else finds this funny besides Colette and I. I debated for several seconds about including this photo in this blog.
I will be up front on this one. Colette has the navigational skills of a homing pigeon. Me you ask? The navigational sense of a drugged lab rat. So it was again a non-issue that Colette took the literal reigns on our fantastic train voyage. Colette secured us a place to stay with a man named Harun in east Berlin. He was to meet us at the train station at 5:45 PM.
Hitlers bunker was located about 30 feet below. It had 10 ft thick concrete walls and ceilings and is the place where he killed himself. It fittingly now serves as a place were people from the surrounding apartments take their dogs out to go dookie.
What Colette overlooked was the fact that we were arriving at Berlin-Sedkruez and Harun was at Berlin-Hauptbanhof. A "slight" oversight that set us back 1.5 hours and left Harun guzzling coffee at the train station while waiting for us.
Harun was exceptionally understanding about the whole situation. We met up with him and he took us back to his place. His apartment was a large, beautful flat nestled cozily atop the 6th floor of an apartment building in east Berlin.
Over top of the wall is West Berlin, to the right of the photo, East Berlin. If I had been standing where I was standing to take this photo 20 years ago, I would have been shot.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Fechter is a good read. Although the tour guide said Fetcher was thrown medical aid from the westerners as he lay bleeding to death.
Berlin is full of contradictions and ironies. Here is the Holocaust memorial in downtown Berlin. It is 2,711 cement squares around in a perfect grid costing an ungodly amount of money. Immediately you notice its pristine appearance completely sans graffiti. Each square is manufactured with an anti-graffiti compound. The significance or irony of the situation you ask? The same company that invented and supplied the substance for the memorial happened to be a company that supplied Zyklon B for use in the gas chambers.
The next day we took a New Berlin walking tour on recommendation from a pair of travellers we met in Florence. Bailey even went as far as to describe the tour as "captivating." The fact that this recommendation came from a 19 year old and the fact that it was free was all the reason we needed. The way it works is simple. You meet up for a free tour and at the end you tip the tour guide how much you can afford. The free tour was an overview of Berlin;
The free tour was indeed captivating and we decided the next day that we would pay the € 12 and take in the "3rd Reich" tour the next day. The tour the next day was even better than the first. It was roughly 4 hours and the tour guide only broke his speech by occasionally gasping for breathe. We visited Hitlers bunker and the Gestapo headquarters and everything in between. This style of tour is offered in a few major cities such as Munich, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Edinburgh. I cannot stress how important it is that you take in one of these tours. http://www.neweuropetours.eu/
Anyways, that night we went out with our host to an Asian themed restaurant and this crazy looking little lounge.
When we came late that evening I had retired to the computer to write a few emails and check some hockey scores when Colette came to me. "Um, G, come here" was what she said to me. What she showed me was her insulin pump gushing copious amounts of insulin.
It became clear that Colette now needed syringes in order to get her the insulin her body needed. "Why don't you use a syringe tonight and we will worry about the pump tomorrow" I said. Colette explained that she didn't have any.
So I get on the phone and call a local emergency number. I spoke to an operator who didn't speak English. I held my own in German but was stumped when I was unable to come up with the words insulin, pump, and syringe. I hung up, called again and this time was connected with someone who spoke English. I got both addresses and directions to a pharmacy and a hospital within walking distance.
This is the view of the outside of Haruns apartment. It seems as those the East Berliners are quite fond of their rattle can. Harun said that the white cabinet sitting outside of the apartment would most definitely be gone within a day. Three days later it was still there but the only difference was, you guessed it, it was covered in graffiti.
Now imagine this. Colette and I leave this apartment building at 1 am, in east Berlin and we are looking for syringes. You really cant make this shit up!
We arrive at the hospital and I tell the nurse in German, because the 3 of them don't speak English, that Colette's pump is "bad" and we need syringes. But of course, I don't know the word syringe so I gesture using the international symbol for syringe which is moving one hand over the inside of your other arm like you are shooting heroin. It is at about now that it becomes pretty clear that they think I am a drug addict looking for needles. They now talk to each other sheepishly and I can only imagine that they are trying to figure out how they are going to kick us out using an impromptu skit of charades.
Luckily a man walks through the nurses situation just as the situation is about to reach an end, offered assistance interpreting. Five minutes later we walked out with 2 syringes and the day, at least the night, has been saved.
The Germans have a reputation of rule following and being on time. The public transportation system pretty much works on the honor system whereas the London transport system has cattle guards and checkpoint to make sure you have paid. The significance of this photo is the yellow box in which law abiding smokers smoke within. Here you see a couple of krauts slowly centimetering their way outside the line. Haven't we learned anything? What starts with minor rule bending involving smoking and centimeters ends up in mass genocide!
What post would be complete with out a profile of a rig. This is a Trabant. People waited up to ten years on a waiting list to buy one of these. After the wall fell, you couldn't give these away. Here is the link to a definite read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabi