Another Brick in the Wall, Parts I and II

Well I definitely got my money’s worth out of the all-day transportation pass I bought for 7 Euro. After breakfast at the hostel (which was oddly exactly the same as the breakfast offered at Steffi’s Hostel in Heidelberg), I walked the 2 kilometers or so to the Molecule Man sculpture. It was…intriguing. Then I stopped in the nearest metro station – Warchauer Street – and bought my pass. I must say, I have all but mastered the Berlin trams, trains, and metros. Buses I haven’t tried my luck at yet.

My first stop was downtown, by the TV tower. There is a store there, Decathlon, that offers cheap camping supplies. I still need to replace my sleeping bag/mat, so I priced them out today. I won’t buy them until Thursday probably, but I think I can replace both for under 20 Euro. Leaving the store I took more metros to a street market that was listed on the tourist map I received from the hostel. I don’t know if it was the construction, or if it was still too early in the day, but I only saw a few stalls with limited items. So I hopped back on the U-bahn and made my way to the planetarium. The planetarium that has been closed for renovations for two years apparently. From there I just decided to take the S-bahn 42 train for a trip around the city. Think beltway, but with trains. The 42 runs counter-clockwise around the main part of the city. The pass that I bought earlier was only for areas A and B, not C. But the C region is so far outside of the city that I couldn’t imagine ever having a reason to use it. So I took the train around all but four of the stops in its loop.

Exiting at Ostkreuz, I took another train a few stops to Ostbahnof, the closest stop to YAAM. YAAM (Young African Art Market) is an awesome place for anyone that is chill enough to relax and have a good time even when you are not particularly in your element. I was stopping at the outside bar to order a beer to enjoy for my afternoon, when a Canadian guy (Richard) started talking to me. We sat for probably two hours, drinking beer and exchanging travel stories. Afterwards we walked along the East Side Gallery – one of the last remaining sections of the Berlin Wall – and discussed history and politics.

Back at the hostel I ran into two of my new roommates. I’m bad with names, but I think they are Joel and Ben. They are British, enjoying a week holiday in Berlin. We sat in the commons room for an hour or two, watching the Russia-Slovakia football match. They left afterwards to hit up a local pub, but I just don’t have it in me. Constantly waking up at 0630 in the morning and being active all day takes it toll by about 2200. However, I heard there is a small music festival at YAAM tomorrow, so I’m going to have to make that no matter how tired I am. Plus, I really want to try some jerk chicken from one the food stands I saw in there earlier today.

Well, that’s all for today. I’m too tired to write anymore…except one thing I neglected to mention yesterday. The picture from the previous blog was taken at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The picture looks like a painting, I know. The structure itself is surprisingly simple, consisting of over 2700 stone blocks. To see it in person is almost mesmerizing. The sunlight causes it to play tricks on your eyes. It is something you must see for yourself if you are ever in Berlin.

But I will leave it at that. The roommates just turned off the light, so I should be courteous and turn the computer off now. Cheers!

 

Today is Wednesday, June 22th. I thought my blog had updated two days ago, but I guess the wifi here is worse than I thought. Yesterday I stayed in a bit and tried to catch up on sleep. I hung around the hostel until about 1500, then took the metro to a Turkish marketplace that is only open on certain days. I was expecting a bit more food, but most of the stalls were selling spices and fabric. So much fabric. At the end of the street there was a man making crepes, so I indulged myself in one with strawberry jam. He and I talked football for a few minutes, and he kindly offered the crepe to me for free. I still gave him about 2 Euro for his effort, but the generosity was appreciated.

From there I went to the old Templehof Airport. Apparently it was one of the oldest operational airports until it closed about 10 years ago. It was recently designated as a refugee camp, but I walked around it and just saw people relaxing in the grass. An old German lady came up and, in the very limited English she knew, gave me a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet and pointed out the website on the back. The whole situation was cute, and I took the pamphlet from her and smiled, since I didn’t know the German translation for the word “atheist.” I walked to a nearby park in the area (this section of Berlin is not on the map my hostel gave me, so I really don’t know where I was) and remembered that Germany was playing in tonight’s Euro 2016 football match. The park was packed with drinking football fans gathered around a giant TV.

I also recalled recently hearing about security updates at Berlin’s Fan Mile, so I headed over that way…via bus this time. Yes, I’ve even figured out the basics of the bus routes thanks to Google maps. The Fan Mile, which is on the 17th of June Street, is where Berliners go en masse to watch football games. I don’t know at what point Germany used miles instead of kilometers, but I’ll not dwell on inconsistencies. The mile was incredibly packed, with security everywhere checking bags. I walked through slowly, occasionally stopping to watch the game on one of the several massive televisions they had hung outside.

Leaving the Fan Mile with about ten minutes left in the match, I took the metro back to Ostbahnof station, the closest exit to YAAM. There was a music festival there yesterday, and it was packed. I was hungry, so I waited in line about half an hour to get friend chicken and plantains. It was good, but not as filling as I’d have liked. I wandered around and checked out the Jamaican band playing, but didn’t stay too much longer.

That brings us up to this morning. I showered and enjoyed the breakfast buffet, then sat down to update the blog. I must say, I don’t think I have ever explored a city as much as Berlin. Not even a city in which I have lived. I have been all over and all around Berlin. I’m sure there are sights I haven’t yet seen, but in my four days here I have stopped in just about every section of the inner city. I’m not even sure what I can find to do today.

Tomorrow is my last day here in Berlin, so I need to figure out quickly where I’m going after this and exactly how I’m getting there. I still feel that Krakow is my next stop, so I guess I should look up bus routes and hostels for that itinerary.