Friday, April 18, 2014

east berlin

After sleeping in the airport in London, we took the early morning flight to our next destination: Berlin.

Boarding the plane via outside stairs still feels fancier, somehow.
Our first place was in the old East Germany, right off of Karl Marx Stasse - can't get much more East Berlin than that. This was the first place out of our many house sittings where we actually were taking care of a pet, and luckily for us, it was a cat. His name was Dino and we hit it off immediately.

Celebrating our largest place on the trip with a morning MoMo.
Dino tempting us with the oh-so-dangerous stomach pet.

Dino was no stranger to lounging.

But he didn't mind getting down to work when he had to.

 After settling in we headed out for a big day in Berlin. We were close enough to the center of Berlin (which seemed like the area around Alexander Platz) to just walk and enjoy the city. There are many canals running through Berlin and since it's a city where you can drink in public, we made stops to enjoy the sights.

Maggie enjoying some vino on the canal on a warm-ish day.
Since drinking is allowed in public, you see a lot of things you would never see anywhere else. Like a mobile bar where the bar-patrons are the peddle-power that keeps the bar moving. We saw a few of these things--this was not a one-time occurrence.

On our way we passed by the old Berlin Wall on our way into West Germany. So we had to stop and take a photo-op with the famous wall. There are only a few segments of the wall left--the rest of it has been covered over by streets or buildings. We got the feeling that in Germany, they prefer to look forward rather than backward. The site of Hitler's death is now a parking lot.

The wall looked like a larger version of a highway divider. We were kind of expecting more.
While Germany is not known for its wine, we found it to be fairly good and cheap, so once we made it to Alexander Platz, we celebrated with a nice refreshing can of champagne - because we could. Alexander Platz is a very nice part of Berlin with lots of public areas to hang out in and many stores and seasonal outdoor shops. It is probably the best place in Berlin to people watch and put your thumb on the pulse of the city.

Drinking a champagne can and surreptitiously watching all the punk kids' antics in the background. 
People blowing bubbles in Alexander Platz.
We were staying in what we heard was the up-and-coming trendy neighborhood of East Berlin so we did a fair amount of exploring around it. Just a few blocks away we found a nice little Biergarten that we went to a few times - because you haven't done Germany until you go to a Biergarten.

We also had a nice park just a few blocks away that we would take picnics to. It was a very popular park and showed the diversity of the area. We would have Turks on one side of us, Hipsters on another, Punks over in the corner and Hippies in the center smoking joints. It really was a diverse part of the city. As a rule Germany didn't seem as diverse of an area as some other parts of West Europe we had been to, but the Neukoelln area of East Berlin is an exception.

The park on a chilly--and therefore less crowded--day.
We also had a very overgrown park a little further away from us. I mention it because an interesting aspect of Berlin was how they kept most of their parks. Unlike a majority of the world, the parks in Berlin were very wild and overgrown. It might be because they had so many or because it was such a green place, but we really found it interesting to see how vegetated the town was and how unkempt and wild most of it felt (in a good way--the city was beautiful).

We happened to be in Berlin for Easter and like most of Europe, everything shuts down for the whole weekend. So it gave us a nice opportunity to have a nice Easter picnic in yet another park. The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming and the mimosas were flowing - it was a good Easter.

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