Berlin Day 4 Part 1

Continued from Berlin Day 3.

Woke up to a beautiful day here in Berlin. Did I just say that? The word Berlin inherently means wet, cold, and grey. Today, it is none of that. Well, I take that back. It’s still fucking cold with the temperature hovering in the 30s and 40s.

Today we will be taking a bike tour of central Berlin, where all the main tourist sites are concentrated at. The forecast said that today would be sunny, so its not a coincidence that we have decided on the bike tour today. The bike tour starts at Alexanderplatz at 11, so we left our hotel at 10. Yes, it takes forever to get anywhere in this city.

It is sunny, and I’ve got a photo to prove it. Berlin and I have no quarrels today, so far.

We went down into the metro, and realized that we didn’t have change small enough to purchase our tickets. Two chocolate croissants solved that problem.

It’s Good Friday, there isn’t as many people out and about today.

Some more awesome large size graffiti taken from the train.

I wish my hand didn’t reflect so prominently in the window.

I’ve always wondered how much money people make busking on the train. A girl(probably girlfriend) walked around with a cup collecting money while he played. I guess how much money depends on how cute and friendly the person collecting the money is. I didn’t give any money.

Argh! Damn reflection!

Berlin TV Tower at Alexanderplatz. It’s 10:45. It’s taken us 45 long minutes just to get from our hotel to Alexanderplatz. Damn you big ass Berlin!

The tour meeting spot is at the base of the TV Tower. But, where exactly?

We saw this long ass line of people waiting to go up to the observation deck of the TV tower. I hope it clears up by this afternoon, because I’d like to make a trip up there.

OK, found the sign for the tour.

Found the office, and then they actually directed us back to the plaza in front of the TV tower. We are to look for a large group gathering around a person with a Fat Tire sign. Got it.

Saw the sign and found the group, but…Look at this ad!

The ultimate hipster fixie. You’ve got a fixie? Well, suck it, I’ve got big wheel direct drive with no chain.

There were a lot of us tourists wanting to take the bike tour. In fact, there were over 120 of us. I know because we got split into 6 groups of 20+.

After a quick and simple orientation, we went and picked out our bikes. I just reached for the closest one available to me and here she is, Jasmine. I assume it’s a girl. The squeaker toy is to alert the pedestrians to get the fuck out of our way in case the regular bike bell doesn’t get the job done. I would hear the squealing of squeeze toys frequently for the next 5 hours. It didn’t bother me though.

Our guide, C, from Ireland. All the guides were from an English speaking country.

Time to roll out on this sunny day. The bikes were 3 speed internal hub beach cruisers. It reminds me of my own 3 speed bike. Man, these beach cruisers were so comfortable and easy to ride. This is going to be awesome!!! I feel great about this already!

Back to the Berliner Dom. I thought that it looked more imposing in the dark sky a few days ago.

This is the square were the Nazis burned 20,000(If I remembered correctly) books. I don’t remember what building this is, but opposite it sits a concert hall(no photo because it was under restoration).

A memorial for the books burned. Under the glass, there are shelves that would be enough to hold 20,000 books.

Plaques in this plaza to remember the book burning. There’s a quote on there that says something along the lines of, where the books burn, people will also burn. Still true today.

Catholic Church.

Rolling out again. I love riding! I am having a good day today here in Berlin. It’s sunny, but man, is it fucking cold. I think this may be the coldest day so far.

Forgot the name of this building.

I believe 90% of Berlin has been rebuilt due to all the damage from the bombs during WWII. If you look at the statues around town, often they are darker in color than the buildings. It’s because the statues are originals, because they were all taken down and sunk into water for protection prior to all the air raids.

East Berlin, this used to be behind the Berlin Wall. I came to Berlin expecting to see a greater difference between the West and East in their buildings, but the difference wasn’t very significant. Maybe If I went farther East, then maybe there would be a larger difference.

Looking at Check Point Charlie. I am standing on the East Side looking towards the West.

This is it for Check Point Charlie. This is where one, the very rare ones with the papers, could cross from East to West during the period when the wall was up. The picture of the solider is actually an art installation. On one side is an American soldier and the other side a Soviet soldier. Our guide told us about how East Berlin got blockaded just one random night. One night, solider surrounded East Berlin, and if you were caught on the wrong side that night, you were fucked. If you had an one night stand on the wrong side, the next morning, you’d have no way to go back and wouldn’t be able to do so for nearly 3 decades. One day, you woke up on the wrong side of town and the life you knew was over. Walk of shame for almost 30 years! Oh yeah, families got split up overnight. 🙁

Looking from West Berlin into East Berlin.

East Berlin.

One of the few sections of the Berlin Wall that still stands in the city. I think our guide mentioned that there is still a larger section that exists farther out East though. All the damage on the wall is from back when the wall came down and everyone picked at it to keep pieces as souvenirs.

The Nazi Air Force building. This was never bombed during the wall and there are many conspiracies regarding why that was. Some suspect that the Allied kept it intact to use it as a large way finding target. It is now the tax office. Germans do have a good sense of humor after all.

It’s very cold today, but I can’t complain. The weather is otherwise very beautiful with nice blue skies. I am having a great day today. When I was in a shitty mood, I talked incessantly about it. Now I am in a good mood, so I will also talk incessantly about that.

One of the guard towers that still exist from the Wall era.

Back at Potsdamer Platz.

Why is everyone gathered around a parking lot surrounded by drab apartments. Oh yeah, this is right above Hitler’s bunker. This is where Hitler killed himself. The bunker doesn’t really exist anymore because it’s since been mostly destroyed and filled in. There is just one little sign here showing that this is where Hitler’s bunker once existed. The government really downplayed this area in fear of Neo Nazis making this area a shrine. There was nothing really to see here other than a little sign.

Yup, this is it. Hitler shaped the 20th century like few others, and today there is a parking lot and apartments at the site where he killed himself.

Rode our bikes to Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Our guide explained that all these poured concrete blocks are coated with an anti spray paint coating and that’s why they are devoid of graffiti even though the whole city is covered in graffiti. There was a controversy regarding the company that made the coating because it was the same company that made the gas for the gas chambers in the concentration camps.

Most importantly, that building with the green copper roof is Hotel Adlon Kempinski. That’s where Michael Jackson dangled his baby over the balcony. Oh wait, it’s not PC to say there’s something more important than the murdered Jews. Oops. Too bad being PC is not funny.

The business end of Brandenburg Gate.

The Reichstag, the parliament building.

Riding through Tiergarten, a large park in the middle of Berlin. This portion of the ride was especially nice. I am loving this bike tour! I am starting to feel much better about Berlin today. The first few days of Berlin really sucked shit. Today, so much better.

Berlin Victory Column from the Prussian years. It looks West to Paris! Hah.

It was a nice ride through the park, but it was oh so very cold. I had no gloves on and I could no longer feel my fingers. I think the temperature is hovering in the 30s and 40s. It was so nice to ride a bike through a beautiful park on a sunny day that the cold temperatures didn’t bother me too much though.

We rode from one side of Tiergarten to the other side and ended up at a BEER GARDEN!!!

Starving! I’ve only had some coffee and a chocolate croissant all day. It’s mid afternoon already.

Heaven!! I love German beer gardens! I love eating traditional German food and drinking German beer. Why couldn’t the past 3 days of Berlin be as good as today?

Starving and finally the food shows up!!! Ohhhh, so pretty and oohhhhhh so good!

Goulash! I’ve been looking forward to eating goulash!

Rolling out from the beer garden. We ran into another Fat Tire bike tour group and someone had gotten a flat. That sucks, well, for the guide who has to fix it.

Chilling out at the lawn in front of the Reichstag. The day is just beautiful here in Berlin today. When the grey clouds lifted, the bluest sky appeared. The blue sky here is just as blue as the sky in Istanbul. I don’t remember the sky being this blue in Austin. That or I’ve been in India for too long and am now seeing the great contrast.

Another German federal building.

Angela Merkel has her offices in that building.

Americans from Philly in our group making a human pyramid. Oh yeah, I just remembered. When we were leaving the beer garden, we came out to where all of our bikes are parked at. One of them looked at my bike and said “Jasmine. Who’s bike is that!!??” “Mine! You leave my bike alone!” What’s wrong with a boy’s bike having a girl’s name? Would it be better if I rode a bike named Fabio? Or Armando? Hey, watch me ride Fabio. For the record, I was not offended by his comment. It was all in good fun. Not sure how Jasmine took it though.

Rolling out. I love this photo!

The Altes Museum(Old Museum) in front of Berliner Dom. Came by here the other day when it was cold and grey. Our guide said that it was a boring ass museum with coins and other random stuff. I would agree with him. I hate coin exhibits. I always walk right through them.

Hahaha! Best part about the Altes Museum. A man, as large as a horse, punching a horse. What did the artist think about when he thought of this? “I shall make a statue fit for a museum. It shall be a giant man punching a horse. Yes! Perfect!” What does it mean?

The thing in front of Berliner Dom that I couldn’t figure out the other day is a water fountain. Rainbows! Speaking of which, our guide said that Berlin has the 3rd largest gay population out of all the cities in the world. Berlin is very progressive. I feel like I should love Berlin because it’s so progressive. I need to give Berlin another chance.

Everything looks better with a blue sky as background.

5 hours later, our bike tour ends. That didn’t feel like 5 hours. It was 22 Euros for the tour. We saw signs around town for bike rental costing 12 Euros, so we really only paid 10 Euros for the tour. Nice! I really enjoyed the bike tour and our beach cruisers were so easy and nice to ride. Ahhh, great day!

We came and waited in this long line after the bike tour. This is to go up the TV tower. Ugh, now we wait.

Some hot coffee to keep warm.

Sidenote. I am 6 posts behind in blogging as I am typing this. The none working wifi in my hotel room is killing my blogging. Fuck! I look at the photos, and I have some trouble remembering how I felt at the different moments when the photos were taken. Must catch up…somehow…

To be continued at Berlin Day 4 Part 2.

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