Hi everyone,

Well Berlin has been very different to Bangkok, no relaxation here, just lots of touristy times and walking as one should (thank goodness it is flat!). 

Our accommodation here is a little different, being a studio apartment up 3  flights of stairs (not happy Jan and  especially Kev) but very comfortable and quaint, in a very old building that must have survived the war, not much else did with 75% of Berlin destroyed in WW2.

 Berlin is not a pretty city but a very busy one and I have never seen so much construction. After the wall came down they are still trying to catch up with the rest of modernising Europe. I was last here in 1973 when I was 19 and travelling in a van around Europe and the UK, flowers in my hair, wearing kaftans and Carole King singing, yes all a bit scary and things here were very, very different (me too, I guess?). What few old buildings that survived sit next to 1970-90's boring plain monstrosities that must have been thrown up quickly spending as little as possible. After that, every ultra-modern architect decided to design some of the most weirdest (sometimes great, sometimes ??) buildings that they were allowed, maybe to compensate? Plus everyone still smokes here, some restrictions but with every street littered with cigarette stubs and smoking allowed in outdoor restaurants and railway stations, it feels like I'm back in the 70's! As I said, not pretty but definitely unique!
The only attractive relief is the Spree river and some additional canals that supply some softness and greenery which we have travelled on extensively to watch this crazy city float by, drink in hand and loving every minute! 

The Berliners seem to be a very efficient and practical race. The transport system is fabulous, you buy a ticket for whatever period suits (6 days for us) and just get on any bus, train, tram & a few ferries whenever you want, no tapping on or off, no one selling tickets at the stations, no guards checking you have a ticket etc. It is all an honesty system that is very fast and easy but heavens knows if it is viable, I would love to think so! We found this all very economical as, even if you get on the wrong train, you just go wherever, hop off hop back on and try again. We saw lots of things we hadn't planned on so that was a bonus!
Then there is the history of this city that you just can't get away from, very old areas (dating back to 1200's) and obviously more recently the horrors of WW2 and the communist control that lasted till 1989. We have found that modern Berliners seem to enjoy life as they struggle out of man's ability to attempt to destroy everything just to rebuild it again! There is a very off beat sub-world here, graffiti (street art as it is called) seems to be allowed and even applauded. Things are not neat and tidy and fitting into designated boxes but do have a rough and ready point of view. It is definitely a city for the young, strange and odd nightclubs, bars and gathering places are everywhere! We have heard that some of the outlandish ones are now being closed down and the practical part of me says I can see why, but the little bit of hippie left in me says it is a bit sad.

Anyhow, this is our last night here, so off for a nice dinner downstairs from our apartment, 8 different restaurants in a row to choose from. We are off to Verona, Italy tomorrow with our last trip down these bloody stairs!

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Travel Blog by Jan Photography by Kevin
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