Currently Browsing: Deutschland

Munich – Beer Capital of the World (5-7 Jan 2010)

I got into Munich late at night and even though the hostel was less than 200m from the train station, I still got lost getting there. But I got to walk past a local Circus in town: Krone Circus. I could tell even before I saw the signs that animals were around. The smell was very powerful. The hostel I stayed at was 4you. It wasn’t too great. The toilets were dirty, the showers terrible (hot water though), and the rooms packed full of beds. By far the worst hostel I’ve stayed in so far. But the people it hosted more than made up for it. In the morning I got up to do the walking tour of Munich, by the same company: SANDEMAN (really advertising it, can you tell). There was even a pickup from our hostel. We met in the lobby and walked to the rathaus or townhall of Munich. There Harriet, from New Zealand, became our tour guide and we waited around learning the history of Munich for the townhall clock to go off, as it does on the hour. Back in the day, there were no bathrooms so people would have to use the drains in this street as toilets. But that posed problems. One could lose his seat while going outside. So the beer hall installed toilets under the table. All one had to do was open his button fly, point, and shoot into the holes underneath the table. This presented another problem: backsplash. So the customers would carry a stick. To warn their neighbors they would wack their legs, then guide the urine down the stick and into the hole to prevent backsplash. Eventually real bathrooms were added away from the seats and women were allowed to enter. But the local loyal customers still have their own tables here and if you sit...

Pergamon & the Living City (1 Jan. 2010)

I woke around 10am to find out that I had more time than I thought left at the apartment before I was kicked out. I decided to make good use of the extra time and go to the Pergamon Museum on Museum Island. I got there around noon and the queue was about half a futbol field long. But I met some friendly Irish men in Berlin for the New Year’s parties and we talked about our experiences the night before. It surfaced that all of us were amazed at how many people were down at the Brandenburg. Their names were Connell, Colin, Brian, and alas I forgot the last one’s name. But they were pretty chill. We got into the museum rather fast, less than an hour of waiting. I took the free audio guide as did some of them. As it was an individual thing, we said farewell just in case we didn’t see each other anymore and we each went to explore the museum. But through the market gate was the exhibit I came here to see. Artifacts from Babylon. Babylon, from 2300BC. That’s legit. At this point, I looked at my watch and realized I needed to get back so Susanne didn’t lock the doors on me with my stuff still inside. But when I returned to the apartment, Urs had come back from Switzerland and I was welcome to spend as much time as I wanted. So I stayed the rest of my time in Europe in his apartment. No, not really. But I should have. Urs knows Berlin like the back of his hand. And not the tourist parts that one can familiarize himself/herself with by picking up one of those tourist maps. I’m talking about the real Berlin, the living Berlin. Urs bought this apartment over 10 years ago and has seen...

Silvester 2009/2010 @ Brandenburger Tor

Definition: In Europe, New Year’s is called Silvester. Hence, New Year’s Parties are called Silvester Parties. I went to the biggest Silvester Party in the world on New Year’s Eve 2009. Some skeptics say it was number 2 in size, but those nay sayers are doubters. This party was held from the Brandenburg Gate to the Lady of Victory. A distance of more than 1km separates these two landmarks. And filling every possible spot in between these two famous monuments: people, thousands and thousands of people. We totaled in excess of 1 million people. And where was I? I came straight from the theatre and arrived around 7:30pm with the intention of checking it out, then going out to dinner with Susanne & Bea, and returning afterward. Let’s just say I never made it out for dinner. It took me some time to figure out how to get into the center area inside the fence, but with a little work and some people skills I worked myself up to the fence to ask those around how to get in. Just as I got there, I feel a push from someone behind me. Turning around, I notice a smiling girl holding onto my jacket. She says, “They wouldn’t let me through, but they let you through, so I came along.” I now had a friend, who brought other friends, to enjoy the party with. Her name was Denise and she and her 3 companions were from northern Germany near Hesse. We made it into the center inside the gates, and the dancing began. At first, bands played short sets, and it took longer to set up and clean up than their sets. In between DJ’s would spin some vinyl and we got a mixture of hip hop, techno, rock, oldies. In the beginning of the night they played Killers’ Human,...

Berlin – Pre New Year (29-31 Dec)

I arrived in Berlin in the morning after having to rig a bed sleeping on the seats in the train. After meeting Susanne, my second au pair, at the corner near her brother’s apartment in East Berlin, I took a shower and we went out with Bea, her friend, to do some low-key exploring of Berlin. Susanne’s brother Urs lives in East Berlin and so she and her friend were spending New Year’s there. I luckily got to tag along. We walked to Alexander Platz where one Berlin Wall Exhibit was displayed. The exhibit was powerful and had some very moving photos of the events that eventually culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall. The guards had no idea what was going on, and the higher ups were watching opera at the time and could not be contacted so the guards called the only person they could get a hold of who told them first to wait around a bit and the crowd would disperse, which it did not. Next he told them to allow anyone through who had papers, and there were 2 tourists over for the day who had papers so the guards let them through. With the gate open, the guard in the middle of the street looked back at the crowd, shrugged his shoulders, and stepped aside as millions of people rushed through to start one of the largest parties ever. At the end of the long weekend, they returned home but the wall was down. The East German government had lost its mandate and its control over the people quickly disappeared. But it was super cold out so we decided to get some lunch inside but not before snapping this shot: Then we jumped on a city bus to check out the city from the warmth inside. We stopped at the center to...