Berlin Day Two

Today will be some stories about public transport in Berlin, and some big things.

One big thing is visible from our room, and probably from pretty much all over Berlin. The east germans built it to show how clever they were, and some longed for it to fall over as it would surely bridge the wall that enslaved them!

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Kerry likes looking out the window, checking out the passing traffic.

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We have a U Bahn station near us so for our outing today, down we went – U probably means Underground. The other option is the S Bahn, which might as well mean Surface Bahn. We navigated the English options on the electronic ticket machines and bought ourselves an all day pass for a group of five for €15, and hoped onto the little yellow train that soon zoomed into our station.

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Cassidy liked to be able to touch the roof on the platform, not exactly big places and not places I’d like to be full of crowds of people.

We got off one station along at alexandra Platz which is at the base of the big thing. Here you can see an S Bahn train station/line, and a tram. Also very interesting is the girl approaching. If you look really carefully you can see she is holding a card in her right hand. In nice English, she asks me if I speak English. So pleased to be able to help after nearly two weeks of struggling with new languages, I foolishly said yes. Then she held up the card which looked very much like one I had seen a couple of days before outside the Brandenburg gate. They are pleading for money for sick children, and best not engaged. With a quick No, not interested, she moved on to nail a weaker target. Later we saw her being huddled out of the market area by angry stall owners; who no doubt thought they were bad for business.

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And here is a first for me, a real live on street electric car charging station. Cool.

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We wandered the markets, buying some freshly cooked bread, crepes with various additions like Nutella, cinnamon, sugar, smarties; but not all in the one! Later we came to the same stalls for lunch and enjoyed a variety of the local specialities. All the stall holders spoke enough English to help us get by, and for them to make a sale!

Jacob had great stories and photos of the TierGardens under snow and was keen to show us. Unfortunately this was just as the weather turned and a chill wind descended along with light misting rain. This made looking around not so pleasant, but fortunately we were able to make the most of the trees in the gardens for shelter. Even saw a proper red squirrel!

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Autumn is starting.

Then we came across another big thing. This one was very impressive, and as it was sitting in the middle of a big roundabout, they’ve built nice tunnels to get there. Obama spoke on the steps not so long ago, I hope they stopped the traffic for him. Down the long road you see the Brandenburg Gate which was the symbolic entrance to the city, and this big thing is called Victory Column. It symbolizes any of the many victories of the various armies of Prussia, which preceded the formation of modern Germany. Most of these seem to be over the poor ol’ French. Though I think the French got their own back from time time too. All these warlike antics are new to us Aussies.

As we walked down into one of the tunnels crossing the road, we heard this lovely violin music from the guy playing at the intersection of three tunnels, so the sound was just so clear.

click to hear the violin. video is not so good, but the sound is nice

So after cruising some more around some other markets, we’ve retired home early. The sun has come out, but I fear the nice weather has gone for the time being

Last but not least, RIP Steve Jobs, a man who enabled me to do many things I would not have been able to without his innovation, vision, and catering for those like him willing to wonder outside the square.

And just one more thing:

Some photos from the shopping expedition in Berlin, plus the Munich train system map. Yes, we navigated this!

See how cheap the cigarettes and alcohol are without the taxes we have in Australia. Not saying that’s good…. Just saying …

P

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Berlin walking tour

One of the great things Jacob has introduced us to are the extensive number of walking tours that give a great intro to historic parts of the cities, all for the price of a tip. As the tip is the only income for the tour guide, we give much more than a € or two, but they are good value, informative and fun.

Thus one was 4.5 hours with Amy from Sandemans tours and she took us through the Brandenburg Gate, the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, a section of the original Berlin wall and past many other memorials and museums.

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After the tour we went back into the memorial the murdered Jews of Europe, which contained many personal stories, often recovered from clothing of the murdered Jews and written on scraps such as toilet paper. This was a peaceful and moving memorial to the people, and not as confrontational as the holocaust museum Chris and I experienced at the Jewish centre close to home in Perth.

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Munich to Berlin.

Tuesday

The turtle train joined the commuters today for the 40 minutes ride into Munich haufbahnhauf – that means the central train station – obviously!

Bit of a crush in the crowd, and sorting out ten back packs from the briefcases in the limited time the train is at the station is a bit of a marvel to behold. Why ten? Well we each have a day pack that gets slung our front before our big pack goes over the back. I told you we look like turtles.

Then we sat on the train for 6 hours.
Then we got off the train….

It wasn’t too bad, trains give the opportunity to move around. This train was full to the brim with no spare seats and at least 8 carriages long. Lotsa people. High speed too, reaching 200 kmh for some parts of the journey. We didn’t travel at less than 100kmh unless through towns, and were often around 140kmh, nice. Mind you, some of the 200kmh was past the back of suburban houses – pity any chooks that escape from pens at home! Yes, they are all electric, and the long distance ones have power outlets for laptop charging as well as a limited cafe. The idea is to buy food for the journey prior to leaving.

Berlin train station is several layers deep, intermingled with a shopping mall – ie big The instructions from the hostel was to catch the 142 bus from the entrance to the train station. Hmmm, entrance…..

With the help of helpful locals, lots of pointing, showing names on the iPad (gotta love the iPad) and plenty of attempts at German so we don’t come across as brash tourists, they kindly pointed the way for us. Graciousness continued when the bus driver gave up on Kerry’s attempts to pay for the fare and waved us on with a smile. So here we are at Wombats Hostel in Berlin, part of old East Germany. With a name like that, yes, there are plenty of Aussies

After checking out the kitchen, the rooms and the laundry like the well oiled traveling machine we are, we ventured out into the local area to gather food for the next day or so. Breakfast is available at €3:30, but with five of us, self catering is cheapest. Food seems cheap here. Alcohol is almost free! So are cigarettes. I’ll load some photos of prices later. Speaking of photos, sometimes I cannot get a good enough connection, or not enough time to load photos, so if the blog seems bare at time, go back and check after a couple of days and see what is there.

Like many cities we have been through, there are plenty of bikes, and plenty of office workers riding all without helmets. Special bike lanes, long bike racks are all part of the scene.

Tomorrow we are out on another walking tour, and will see what the rest of the stay unfolds. Rain is forecast for later in the week, so maybe this run of 25*C days is coming to an end

Fast train

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room with a view. It’s entertaining watching the antics of the Polaroid photo booth opposite! and plenty of bikes using the road.

Success at Oktoberfest

Munich Oktoberfest
Monday

After yesterday’s experience at the Oktoberfest, it was with a mixture of trepidation and determination that we headed back in again; and I am pleased to report there was no sign of the angry doorman stalking us and we had a great couple hours.

First the five minute walk along the village streets, then purchase the all day pass from the ticket machine (English language menu) for € 12:80, validate the ticket in another machine and wait a few minutes for the train to arrive. There are three an hour and it is a thirty minute ride into the station adjacent to the Oktoberfest. Then another five minute walk, through much smaller crowds today, thankfully. Today is a public holiday celebrating the reunification of Germany, east and west, and the last day of the Oktoberfest for this year.

We arrived at our tent at 10:30 am and found ourselves next to a boisterous crowd from the Cologne Sharks, and Ice Hockey team who had come to play Munich today. Several hundred of then had left at 3am on the train for the game, stopping off at Oktoberfest for a litre or three of Munich’s finest ale and were then heading off to the game. As I was wearing my good Aussie hat, we were quickly welcomed as new friends and team supporters. The sober team owner was happy to chat to me for some time, whilst a supporter entertained the rest of the family with her intense interest of Australia, and tales of her trip so far. She staggered off for a smoke outside, leaving her nearly full stein on our table. Clearly it was not her first! When she returned, that stein had been forgotten and she sat at another table. Jacob reunified the now warm stein with it’s rightful owner who proceeded to gaze longingly, we suspect whilst her brain was processing the next action, then she held it in two hands and drew it to her mouth with a big smile on her face. It might have been 11am by then. As they would arrive back in Cologne at 3am the next morning, we wondered how the rest of the day may pan out for her and her enthusiastic supporters.

As for us, we ordered a couple of steins and cokes from our tables hostess, and several large pretzels and schpeck (bread with cheeses and ham like flat ham and bacon bread roll) from the passing seller. Steins were about €10 or A$13. Soon after the oompa band started up, and the Cologne Sharks supporters led the songs. We had found the centre of action in the tent! These tents hold several thousand people so get pretty roudy later in the day.

All the family joined into the spirit of the Oktoberfest.

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here’s a little video, hopefully with sound that makes great viewing and gives an idea of the atmosphere and odd things that happen.
Cassidy and the band

Our day was done by 12:15pm when we had agreed to leave. It would have been fun to stay, but the end would not have been pretty for us, so we chose the healthy option of a 3 hour free walking tour around Munich. The young guide was informative and entertaining, and happily tipped well at the end. I suspect like many Germans from Bavaria, they are not proud that Munich was the start of Hitlers rise, and his initial base here for the Nazi party. Peters stories contained enough of that part of Munich’s history to inform and pique the imagination.

For example, we stood in the square where the early Nazi meetings were held, and stood near the steps where Hitler gave his speeches. Here too was the place where the local Munich Police set up barricades to stop the marching Nazi party members as they tried to enter the great square and proceed with their revolution. Hitlers bodyguards https://www.anztravelcard.com/ killed in the initial salvo of machine gun fire, pulling him down as they fell, and then protecting him from death by the way the fell over him. Later The spot became a memorial for the Nazi party and everyone passing had to salute the SS guards and pledge their allegiance with a Heil hitler. Those refusing would taken to the nearby Dacau concentration camp, as would those who were seen turning up Dodgers Alley and recognized by a Gestapo guard as having dodged a previous time.

Also significant was seeing the twin towers of the biggest cathedral that were saved from the war by the fact of their striking appearance. I reflected my Uncle Tom would have seen these towers from the air in quite different circumstances as he’d led bombing raids over Munich many years ago. He was part of the elite Pathfinder Corp of the RAF who were the most skilled navigators and pilots, dropping trail markers across the alps for the hundreds or thousands of bombers to follow, and finally dropping flares over the target zones.

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As I said, interesting and informative.

After another coffee and snacks at our favorite cafe in MarianPlatz, we’ve arrived home for our last night in Munich. We were also able to pick up WiFi in RattsKeller again. This time I have made sure I checked the DBahn train website for timetables, and downloaded new maps and travel instructions for our next hostel in Berlin.

Today was a good day.

Oktoberfest attempt 1

Lesson one.

Arrive earlier than 1:00pm
Expect HUGE throngs
Expect drunk 16 year olds
Avoid flipping the bird to the doorman of a beer tent.

We have survived the first experience and plan to go back for another go tomorrow, but much earlier. Might avoid that tent too!

It’s a huge ‘Royal Show’ with rides, stalls, and the vast beer halls.

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After wandering around I’m the throngs for a while We lined up at one door of a beer tent and noticed after a while the doorman was only letting in pretty young girls in costume. Any men coming to him from the inside to ask if they could come out for a smoke , he would send over to the smoking area. Any pretty girls he would let out.

He was a jerk. After half an hour waiting on the sun right at the front of the queue, and seeing others being let in at other doors, we finally had enough and walked off. In my trail I left the international sign if displeasure.

Hmmm. Perhaps not so clever. He had a very loud voice. Quite impressive. No idea what was going on about. I muttered something like a sorry and a few other English words and he either realized the futility, or had run out of abusive words. Apology is the better part of valour in a strange country!!!

Chris bought a litre Stein as a souvenir and we all seem to have silly hats. So the turtle trail is now marked by a line of grey witches hats!!

Back in the Ratts Keller now for the free WiFi, off for a cheap take away, then home to our little house in the country.

I’ve created a blog of our journey into Munich, but it’s on the iPad back at the house that has no wifi.

The morning today was very nice, spent with Tim’s half fourth cousin Julia and her cute daughter Carlotta, and Julia’s partner Toby . We tracked our relationship back to a couple five generations back where we shared genes. That’ll do for calling it a close family connection!!

Here is the family with Julia and cutie Carlotta

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