Berlin Day 1

Continued from Istanbul Day 7 Part 2.

Got up this morning, finished some last minute packing and we were out the door. We called a taxi, and it arrived shortly. I spoke to the front desk asking if the women in the head scarfs around New Mosque were Kurdish. They were not. They are just normal Turks. I emailed my friend RF about this, and this is what he replied back. (This first part of the email was hi response to me telling him that I never made it to the Asian side of Istanbul due to chilling out way too long at Starbucks. He was a bit miffed that I had many days in Istanbul but I didn’t even take a simple ferry to cross when he had actually swam across the Bosphorous.) He lovesĀ  swimming with latex jellyfish.

Yes I did most definitely swim across, although from the Asian side- not to it. I came across a huge dead fish at the beginning but after that it was smooth sailing…

Also, I can answer a few questions from your blog:

1. The heavily forested area across from Bebek is a military zone- there is a lot of heavy artillery just on the other side of the hill [remember the Bosphorous is one of the most geostrategically crucial natural waterways on the plant]. I actually swam across from over there, and had to swim over to the shore to touch my foot to Asian soil so I could truly say I swam from Asia to Europe and as soon as I got close a couple of soldiers came out of nowhere and started screaming at me. Thats where I saw the dead fish, too.

2. The woman near the spice market aren’t Kurdish- at least not exclusively. The look you’re describing is one thats representative of broad swathes of the Turkish female population, you just didn’t see many of them in the areas you were hanging out at. To assume that Turkish women look like the ones you were seeing in Sultanahmet , Istiklal, and Bebek would be like extrapolating the way American women look from how they dressed/looked in Disneyland, on Sixth Street, and in Beverly Hills. That was a brief glimpse at the vast majority of Turks.

3. From the signs that were unobscured/legible in the protest it looks like you came across a protest against child brides- a real issue over there. There are protests/marches down Istiklal several times a day and the police follow all of them just to be safe. After all, pretty much all of Turkey’s many military coups were precipitated by events in Istiklal/Taksim Square (the big one in front of the Burger King).

Thanks for the schooling RF!

When our taxi came, I asked the taxi to take us to the closest metro station. It was not within walking distance of our hotel. Our driver offered us the whole ride to the airport for 35TL. Well…..fuck it, why not. It’ll save us some time too.


More sakura.


Outside of the historic core, this is what Istanbul looks like. Row after row of mid rise residential buildings.


Just to get into the airport, we had to go through a security line. Now we are finally at the check in. The having to go through security line just to enter is a pain in the ass for smokers.


What the fuck…Here’s a guy wrapped in towels inside the airport like he just came out of a Turkish bath. Is there a bath house attached to the airport?

After checking in our luggage, we had to go through yet another security line.


What the fuck….While going through the second security line, I see this guy wearing nothing but towels, with no luggage, going through passport check. It seems like he was about to take an international flight wearing nothing but, towels…


At the airport lounge, and guess what, they have raki. Raki for breakfast, yes please.


Blog blog blog while I’ve still got internet. Oh yeah, Efes.


My Turkish Air plane had all leather seats, and weak air conditioning. It was a hot flight.


Goodbye Istanbul. Goodbye Blue Mosque, my love.


Yes, the food containers are rectilinear! I can put the lids under them!


3 hours later, we’ve arrived in Berlin. It’s cloudy and grey here.


Now it’s cloudy and grey, but with lakes.


I can tell from the sky that Berlin is not as picturesque as Istanbul.

While going through immigration, the guy looked at my passport for maybe 3 minutes. He kept on looking at the binding of my passport, and at one point, he even gave my passport to the guy sitting next to him for a second opinion. They were suspecting that my passport may be a fake. What the hell! It’s a relatively new passport because I had stamped out my previous one. This new one that I have is one of those with the extra pages, and I am not sure if they’ve seen many of these before. Either way, after looking through my passport up and down, the guy asked where I lived in the US. I said Austin, Texas and I think after he heard my American accent, he eased up and admitted me into Germany.


Got my backpack. It looks like it’s been roughed up pretty good in transit. I’ve still got to patch up the tear at the bottom of it at some point.


I was lucky to even get my luggage. Mine was one of the last ones to come out, and then the belt stopped. All these people in this photo were still standing around waiting for their missing luggage. Sucks to be them. Turkish Air fail!


Mezzo, it’s been too long.


Bus to take us into the city.


It’s not picturesque like Istanbul. :-( It’s twice as boring behind the print screen of my bus.

Dr. JMcTheOneManParty, you told me that Berlin is wet, grey, and boring. Then I met all these other people from all different places who tells me Berlin is awesome. I am starting to think that my version of Berlin will be like wet, grey, and boring like yours…


Got off the bus, at Berlin main station. It’s about to rain, and it’s cold, in the 40s. The weather forecast is for a whole week of clouds, cold, and rain. Ugh. Istanbul, where are you?


Berlin Main Station. Berlin got bombed to smithereens during the war, so the great majority of the buildings are new and modern.


Cool looking building though.


Grocery store to resupply. I am out of soap and shampoo.


Love German Mercedes taxis!!! Crown Vics can suck my ass.


One of the very rare American muscle car here in Germany. The driver looked like a douche bag. Sorry, just calling it like I see it. Oh yeah, he was also throttle happy, hence the douche bag comment.


Arrived at the hotel.


This is what 55 Euros gets you in Berlin. SO has an apartment here in Berlin, and the original plan was just for me to crash on her couch. That would have been perfect. She had subleased out her apartment while she was living temporarily in Paris, and unfortunately, the tenant notified her that he was unable to move out in time. Oh well.


Both of us are pretty tired, and a little disappointed with Berlin. Our last day in Istanbul was just so fucking badass, it’s kind of a let down to come to this city with grey everything and boring buildings and streets. Our hotel is tucked away in a quiet residential area. It is, however, in the center of town and with easy access to the subway and bus system.


Ah, lots of memories with Audi 80/90.


At the local grocery store to buy some snacks and drinks. We actually didn’t buy any alcohol despite it being all over our faces.


Here’s a busy main street about a 10 minute walk from the hotel.


I am hungry and stressed out, so time for food and beer. Stressed because things just didn’t feel right in Berlin. Frankly, I’ve been here less than 2 hours, and I hate Berlin. Fuck you Berlin! Everything is cold, wet and grey, and it’s supposed to be even worse tomorrow. Ugh.


Medicine.


Yes! Schnitzel! Fried food and beer always makes me feel better.

During our early dinner, we discussed our plan for the day. It’s about 5, and it’s cold and about to rain outside. Lame! I had a whole luggage full of dirty clothes waiting for laundry. The first desk of our hotel had directed us to a laundromat, but we couldn’t find it. So we are here drinking. One step at a time. We asked our waiter if he knows of a self service laundromat around the area. He went to ask a colleague and came back with an address for one. Awesome.


Unusual for me to see so many different beers in Germany. Most of the other German restaurants I’ve been to only serve wheat, light and dark, and those are the only three choices. Hmmm, I need to visit a beer garden!


The weird French, and their weird cars.

I came back to the hotel, and packed my luggage full of all the dirty laundry and went out of the door in search of the laundromat. I hope we can find it because I am tired of walking around aimlessly here in Berlin.


Church by our hotel.


Found! So happy.


SO speaks German, obviously because she lives here, but she’s never used this style of self laundry before, so she had to read the instructions. I speak English, but since this is not a touristy area, none of the instructions were in English. But Ohhh, Germany is so nice. We were trying to figure out how to use the machine, and this nice lady just came up and started helping us out. After we got detergent dispensed, she even took our detergent and divided it into the pre wash and the main wash bin for us. Had this been in India, the moment she came up to me and said “Hallo.” I would have shut down, ignored her and told her to go fuck off with my body language. Ah, back to civilization!!


23 minutes to wash then probably 50 minutes to dry. We’ll wait for the wash, but then find a place to chill for a bit while its drying.


Nothing is in English. Sigh.


Dark brown metallic is so in right now for cars.


Clothes in the dryer, time for coffee.


No food, just a cappuccino please. It was very fucking good. Tasted just like a Wiener Melange!!! I miss Vienna.


After coffee, SO wanted to buy a bottle of wine.


I had put my clothes in the dryer for 40 minutes. Of course, it’s never enough, so I had to put in more coin for another 10 minutes. When I opened the door to check, a 2 rupee coin fell out. Ha! India says hello!

I feel better about everything now. I was out of clean clothes, so laundry had to be done tonight and it feels good to knock that item out. I came back to the hotel, and tried to use the internet on my laptop. It doesn’t work. FUCK YOU BERLIN!!!! It works on my iPhone, but with a weak signal and not at all on my laptop. Ugh. Fuck, this means I may have to go to a Starbucks to use the internet, or maybe change rooms to a room with better wifi reception. Or use wifi in the lobby. Ugh!!!! I am already irritated by the grey, cold, and wet weather, and this is just making it worse.

SO suggested that we should go look at the famous Kaiser Wilheim Memorial Church not too far from our hotel. Yes, let’s do. I need a walk to chill out after finding out of my nonworking internet. I just need two things in my hotel room. Cleanliness, and working internet. I am in Berlin, Germany, where everything should work, and my wifi doesn’t work. Talk about not meeting my expectations. Ugh, Berlin, Why!!!! I’ve heard so many good things about you, but yet, the one negative comment that I heard from Dr. JMcTheOneManParty is the one that I agree with. Sigh.


Ah, love Germany(Love Germany, but hate Berlin). They’ve got signs telling you how long until the bus arrives. Not like our piece of shit Capitol Metro in Austin.


Double decker bus arrives.

We rode on the bus, and went down the main street. Wait, did we pass the church already? SO said that she thinks we passed it already, but we didn’t see the church…Hmm. We got off the bus, and started back tracing our route.


I took this photo because I liked the lights in the building to the right. SO, looks at it and says, “Oh, this is the Church.” WHAT! I saw a photo of it on wiki, and this looks nothing like it….Oh….wait….that building on the left isn’t an office. That’s the old part of the church and the whole thing is covered up for renovation and disguised as an office building!!!! Noooo!!! Fuck you Berlin! Everything has been just a little bit off, and this one takes the cake. So many little things had just not gone perfectly right that we had to laugh about this last one that didn’t go right. It was comical. The blue lit up building is part of the new church building.


It looks just like an office building! I have to say, awesome disguise job.

After my failed attempt at being a tourist, SO had to buy some cigarettes. I think my stress and hatred of Berlin was getting to her. No wait, I think it’s just her smoker’s addiction to cigarettes. I waited for her outside, and she came back out laughing. She said that she’s got some great gifts for me.


LOL!!!! There’s a huge campaign around town for these I Heart Berlin signs. It’s like the I Heart NY signs. Oh the ironies….Everything is just a little bit off here! I Fucking Hate Berlin right now!!! The gifts worked their magic though, and my mood lightened up some because I realized I was taking things too seriously. I am in fucking Berlin on vacation, why the fuck am I in a bad mood because I couldn’t get wifi in my room? Not the end of the fucking world.


I like this one.


993 Turbo S!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Yes please! Oh it’s nice. Great. Wow. Love it. Blue Mosque.


Second dinner.


SO took this photo of me in the restaurant. I look like I am constipated, because I have not been happy with Berlin. She wanted me to remember how unhappy I felt here in Berlin, the city that she loves so much. My shirt fits the situation well.


Liquid happiness.


I shall have something easy and light. Spaghetti will do. Knowing Germany, light meals will be hard to come by.


OK, not exactly light..

Yes, felt better after dinner.


They allow casinos here inside the city.

Instead of getting on the bus, we walked the long way all the way back to our hotel. The walk was calming for me. I’ll get settled at some point here in Berlin. At some point, I will enjoy my time here. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Berlin, I am going to give you another chance tomorrow. I am not sure if you’ll be awesome like Istanbul, but I am going to give you another chance.


What’s on TV, Big Bang Theory. While In Vienna, these high school girls in the airport asked me if I watch the Big Bang Theory(long story why I was talking to a large group of high school girls. Refer to Europe 2011/Nice Day 1.)

To be continued in Berlin Day 2.

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