Thoughts on Berlin

EasyJet flight London to Berlin, less than an hour and a half.

Initial reaction on landing at Berlin Tegal Airport not good, indeed dire.

No proper signposting, then when finally get outside to catch the airport bus, smokers blowing smoke in ones face.

Catch airbus bus, when I alight at Ernst-Reuter-Platz no sign of metro station. Had I alighted at correct stop?

I stopped off at Balzac Coffee at Ernst-Reuter-Platz. I needed wifi. Staff helpful, coffee not good.

I wanted Crowne Plaza Hotel Potsdamer Platz. But when I inquired at Airport Information, I discovered I had booked wrong hotel, or at least agency had. How dumb, two hotels with the same name.

I now had to travel to wrong hotel to see if possible to change my booking to correct hotel, if need be pay the difference, but not pay twice.

I check in, or rather did not check in. Finally I get transferred to correct hotel.

I arrive Crowne Plaza Potsdamer Platz four hours later than would otherwise have arrived.

I dine at Layla, an excellent Israeli restaurant.

Next morning, how to explore Berlin? Unlike Athens where walk, too far spread out, have to catch metro. I had at the airport bought a weekly season ticket for 30 euros.

I had a coffee map, actually I had two, but only one was of use as it showed the streets.

What better way to explore Berlin than via its coffee shops?

Therefore the plan, hop on the metro, head to where I could see a cluster of coffee shops, then have a walk around.

I learn the difference between the S and U routes, S above ground, U below ground.

But first find The Barn Potzdamer Platz where I learn The Barn has a new coffee shop.

Housed in an iconic building, Haus Huth, the only pre-war building remaining in Potsdamer Platz.

I then hopped on the metro to Rosa Luxemburg Platz.

The square has writing of or to Rosa Luxemburg. A little way off from Rosa Luxemburg Platz, a bronze statue of Rosa Luxemburg.

I head to Soho House Berlin.

It is not every coffee shop walk in and find a Damien Hirst on the wall.

What is next noticed is the vast open space various stalls. Clothes, music, books, and coffee and food.

I wander around, have lunch followed by coffee and a cake.

Next coffee shop Five Elephant in Mitte.

A lovely little coffee shop for coffee and cakes.

Roast their own coffee. Good selection of single origin, but no pour over to try.

As no pour over, revisit The Barn Potsdamer Plaz where I learn the barista who served me earlier was Japanese World Champion barista Yuko Inoue.

Next day, a change of strategy, visit Checkpoint Charlie, then Brandenburg Gate on foot. I get lost but no problem, I see more of Berlin.

I was warned Checkpoint Charlie was touristy and I would not like.  Sadly true. The area colonised by KFC, McDonald’s, Starbucks and Americans tourists taking selfies.

Checkpoint Charlie as was, sitting in the middle of the road. I had always envisioned on the middle of a bridge.

A pity the area had not been left as was, unspoilt, but still nevertheless chilling.

I then realised, the day before, I  was in former East Berlin.

Only one divided city left in the world, Nicosia, where I was headed in a  few weeks time.

It was then walk to Brandenburg Gate.

I got lost, which was fortunate as I found a surviving section of the Berlin Wall. As with Checkpoint Charlie, again quite chilling.

Running alongside the wall at the foot of the wall, Berlin 1933-1945 Between Propaganda and Terror, a chilling exhibition drawing on Nazi archives of the rise and fall of the Nazis and the terror inflicted.

On the other side of the Berlin Wall in East Berlin the story of the daring escape over the wall of the Holzapfel family told in the form of a graphic novel.

It was then on to the Brandenburg Gate.

I passed another section of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz that I had not noticed before.

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