When we found that we were coming to Germany, I texted a friend who grew up here. We don’t mind hitting the big guys on a trip, but some of our favorite vacations have taken place in little villages off of the beaten path. When she suggested that we bypass Munich and Frankfurt and head north to Dusseldorf, we jumped right into a car. We do, however, have a WWII buff in the family (The Giant) and, when we sat down to plot our course, Berlin kept coming back up, so we just bit the bullet, ate the travel time and headed here.
Berlin is cool and edgy. In area, and infrastructure, it’s most comparable to New York City, but with about one half of the population, the streets are a little haunting. Our apartment is in a very art-driven area of town next to a custom hat boutique where I could spend an entire morning watching gorgeous women in crisp white shirts habberdash the day away, sewing feathers and ribbons onto the most delicious fashion hats I have seen since the horse racing scene in My Fair Lady. There are coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, prostitutes, casinos. . . wait, what?!?! Yes, I got to watch my teenaged children see a prostitute for the first time. And what a scene it was, clad in two hot pink tube tops (one as a skirt) and a tight leather jacket, she was WORKING it in the middle of a busy city street directly across from the quaint little local eatery where we ate.
We had fallen into the restaurant late the evening before for late night drinks away (we share space with our kids on these trips but we try to recognize that everyone needs a little “alone time” so we will let them hang with the wifi in the room while we have little mini dates, my man and I) and loved the feel of the place. It is equal parts bookstore and bar that happens to serve AMAZING food. I ate, and no I’m not joking, schnitzel with noodles (spaetzle) and there were several delicious non-wiener options which delighted everyone. You see, we like sausages, we do, but COME ON Germany! Really?! I thought that all of the sausage mess was just another lame Euro-stereotype but alas, it’s true. Almost every dish here is tube meat. Now that I think about it though, they do eat a lot of croissants in France. And a lot of pasta in Italy. The chocolate in Belgium IS pretty good. . . shit, I should have been more prepared for all the footlong fantasticness.
When we storm a large city, we like to find a way to do a brief overview, get our bearings, plan our attack. Sometimes, the best way to do it is by taking a big fat touristy bus tour. So we did. Knowing absolutely nothing about Berlin except what we had seen when booking our hotel, the bus tour drove us past and identified all of the interesting spots we might want to visit. We can use the vantage point to determine which things we have seen enough of with just a quick drive by and which things we want to explore further.
Every vacation we take is an exercise in my trying not to murder The Ginger. When people meet him, they can’t say enough about how hilarious and adorable he is. And he is, truly. In private though, he is kind of a stick in the mud. He likes to sleep about 13 hours a day plus take siestas. He doesn’t like to walk anywhere. He doesn’t like to go anywhere. He wants to sit at home with the air conditioning set to 65 degrees, binge drinking Pepsi and eating banana Runts. Just the bananas. So, when he piped up during the bus tour to let us know that he wanted to eat lunch at the Berliner Fernsehturm (a giant tower with a revolving restaurant at the top), we were overjoyed that he wanted to do SOMETHING. Also, it continued our lame-and-owning-it trend of going to the top of the tallest thing in every town we visit and taking goofy pictures. The Fernsehturm is 368 meters tall. I can’t tell you how tall that is in relation to other tall things that we have gone to the apex of because, well honestly, because of three things: first, I can’t convert meters to feet without using a calculator, second, remembering how high up we were makes my butt pucker, and third, being a person who has female parts, I am genetically indisposed to give a crap about things like “tallest,” “biggest,” or “fastest.” There I said it.
Having consumed mass quantities of Italian food (don’t tsk at me, they had VEGETABLES, honest to goodness vegetables which German food is allergic to, by the way) and having maybe a couple of beers, we missed the last tour bus back to civilization so we hiked to Checkpoint Charlie. I love the idea of this place. I hate that there are German tour mongers dressed in American Army uniforms charging 2 euro per person to photograph it. They tried to ruin our picture by harrumphing rudely behind us while we got a couple of lovely other tourists to take our photo, but they underestimated our giant-ness. You can’t even see them!!!
It’s hot and the hotels don’t really have air conditioning (asking for it makes them roll their eyes at you, “stupid Americans”) so I’m exhausted. Tomorrow, more Berlin adventures. . . . till then.