Thank fuck! I just got my German power adapter working and now my phone is charging. I was worried. I can’t get anything done without this thing. And since my laptop is running on fumes it’s nice to have a working device. It just needs to last until I get to Frankfurt, as the Air Canada flight from Frankfurt should have USB and a North American outlet in the seat backs.
So I never really finished yesterday’s blog post, because that wasn’t the end of my night. Instead I wandered. I just walked north and stumbled upon the Canadian Embassy. They were closed, and they misspelled Canada; it doesn’t have a k. Then I walked a bit further and I came across the holocaust memorial which Moti had written about not so long ago.
If I hadn’t read his blog post I would’ve just thought it was a park. I would’ve thought it was a park designed to make rape easy. There’s nothing in the memorial which can be in any way inferred that it is a tribute to dead Jews. It’s just a fun place to play in the day, a fun place to murder and rape in the evening. I don’t know who designed this.
Just north of there was the US embassy. It’s so very heavily blocked off. Giant fence. Police. It’s a pretty building when you look past all that. Beyond that was the Brandenberg Gate which was also very pretty, but didn’t keep my interest too long. So I kept on keeping on and suddenly I was at parliament, the Bundestag. Lit up at night the building is absolutely gorgeous. I was shocked to see people were still being let up into the glass dome. I figured why not? The reason why not is apparently I need to pre-register. Apparently being awesome is not sufficient. I wandered the grounds. I was annoyed at how much of the building was gated off. It made me think of the British Commons where they installed a glass (clear plastic?) divider between the public gallery and the actual commons. Apparently someone threw a ball of flour at Blair, and that’s why they installed it.
This extreme reaction to POSSIBLE terror threats is an issue I believe. If the commons cannot be a place for all of your nation’s people to be welcomed, then it is no longer truly a house of commons.
Then I continued walking. I found water. I found LRT tracks. Saw an LRT vehicle. Maybe one day we’ll see those in Toronto. Basically I walked towards the Berlin mini-CN Tower. Much like the CN Tower, it’s a broadcasting tower. Also like the CN Tower, it’s fucking hideous. Is there a good design for giant sky phallus? At least Berlin’s isn’t made of poured concrete. So that wasn’t very exciting. It was at this point that a slightly crazy woman came running at me chasing her dog and saying something in German. Turns out she’s from London! We talked and she tried to help me find my way back to the hostel. She was completely useless in that regard, but she had me laughing. She also told me I don’t have a Canadian accent. I assume that means I don’t sound like a Newfie.
Eventually I took a taxi back to the hostel where I noticed they hadn’t fixed my bed. You see, before I went out night walking I got out of my bunk and heard a pop. Some of the wooden slats supporting the mattress were sticking out. Yes I’m fat. They didn’t do anything when I got back it was still like that. So I bugged the front desk to switch beds if the room wasn’t full tonight (there was one free bed last night). No go. Apparently there wasn’t a free bed in the whole fucking building. So instead they had to fix it now as I didn’t want to fall on the woman below me. Would you want an ~800lb man falling on you? Yeah didn’t think so. So they had to go into the room which was already mostly filled, wake everyone up, turn on the lights and fix the bed.
So, I’m an asshole.
Then I took some sleeping pills and waited for them to kick in.
I slept in. I was going to take a tour of the nearest concentration camp, but it left at 10. Now I need to figure out what I want to do, and I have no idea.
I walked through teirgarten and visited a handful of monuments in the park. Found the Mozart, Beethoven, and Hayden. Strange to see dents from bullets in the marble. Then went to see Siegessaule, which is a monument to the victory over the French in 1871. It was a further walk than I expected, but not so bad.
From there I went to the DDR museum which is a museum showing life in east Germany and the fall of the wall. It’s not a bad museum, except everything is interactive and they MUST be over capacity. You could barely move and barely take enough time to read the info.
My plan was to go back to the hostel at that point and use Internet to figure out what to do next. The problem was I didn’t want to walk through Brandenburger Tor again. For the exact same reason I never want to walk through Dundas Square or be around during Taste of the Danforth, too many fucking people.
So I checked my map (the one on my iPhone) and found an alternate route. En route I was walking by a plaza called “Checkpoint Plaza” and something made me think that I might be near Checkpoint Charlie. Turns out I was. Berlin has big boards up, like you would find when a building is under construction. The difference is these had information on it1, it detailed the history of post-WW2 Germany. A lot of the information covered had already been detailed at DDR, then I found big slabs of concrete. I don’t know if they were actual pieces of the wall or reproductions. Either way, interesting. Oh, and there was the checkpoint itself.
It was nice to have stumbled across it as I don’t know if I would have gone otherwise. There’s not much to see there, but at least I can say I’ve been.
I started walking back to the hostel and came across the Stasi museum Moti had mentioned. It was okay. It was somewhat interesting, but a good 50% of the place is not translated to English. I can’t blame them for that as if I were to build a museum, German translation wouldn’t be the highest priority. Unless it were a David Hasselhoff museum.
Then I continued on my way. I crossed the street and was confused by the lack of sidewalk. Then I noticed what was standing in my way… the Berlin Wall.
I was at Topography of Terror, which had requested to keep that portion of the wall damaged but in place. It was kind of incredible to see such an aspect of recent political history standing there.
I didn’t go in, but outside they had an exhibit of the terror from 1933-1945. It was interesting and to continue with the theme, depressing.
- instead of pictures of Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton [↩]