Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

DAY- 2

6:02 a.m - Morning Wanderings in and around Rosenthaler Platz

I just brewed myself some instant coffee, which the hostel is providing free, how sweet of them, they even provided free powdered milk. All in little sachets the kind you'd associate with a space flight to mars. It's free and I'm Indian so what the heck. I just walked out the door with cheap coffee in hand.

Is it an overly pleasant morning here in Berlin ? Or is it just the cheap caffeine buzz talking.

Business establishments around me are opening up the florist lady whose marigolds I'm examining is re-arranges her shop window. Bakeries, coffee shops, small breakfast joints every where opening their shutters, rolling out their little canvas roofing, scrubbing out the graffiti [seems Berlin has a problem on that front].

I'm writing all this on the divider of the main road. Passing motorists must think I'm mad. I'm going inside now - my hostel doesn't serve breakfast so I think I'd settle for a pretzel later.

7:00 a.m - Crisis[Personal] at the Circus

Some fool has forgotten to carry the camera charger. I'm not pointing any fingers to save the party from further self-degration and personal torture. Let me enlighten you on the damages a missing camera charger could do. Think... NO PICTURES

NAAAAHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII !!!! [elongated NAHI - meaning no in hindi]

It's akshay to damage control, I asked around the locals where I would possibly find a charger.

Akshay : Excuse me, I was wondering where it would me possible for me to find a camera charger.
Berliner : Umm... Satau at Alexlander Platz.
Akshay : Satau .. {repeating and cringing at the pronunciation} Can you write it down for me ?
[Berliner taking piece of paper and inscribing words Saturn on it.]
Akshay : Ohh Saturn {recognizing words}
Berliner : Yeah Satau {a little pissed}
I make my way to Alexander-Platz. Alexander Platz was the biggest square in what was east berlin, you might remember it from the sniper scene in Bourne Supremacy. It lies in the shadow of berlin's orb like Fernsehturm (TV Tower).

Saturn is one of giant electronics super marts with aisles and aisles of electronics. Scenes not common in India. Lady Luck is on my side and I find my charger, the day is saved !

10:00 a.m- Crisis overcome time to regroup

The crisis over come and my battery all charged it the time for decisions. What are we going to do ?
Pamphlets are scanned through, guide books imbibed, we reach the decision we should do a walking tour. A 4 hour marathon walking tour at that - which will provide the likes of me and the family information gallery on the city of Berlin. We decided on the Brewer City Tour which started around 2:30 at the Australian Ice Shop at Friedrichstrasse. So since we had plenty of time to kill and no so much money to spend we decided to hang around Freidrichstrasse.

Give us four hours. You'll be surprised what you can learn. From the Palace of
Tears to the Palast der Republik, and everywhere in between, our guides hit
Berlin's must-see sights with wit, charm, and more background in Berlin history
than the average tourgoer can shake a stick at, not that Brewers Berlin Tours
endorses stick-shaking in any context. Unter den Linden, the Brandenburg Gate,
Checkpoint Charlie, Gendarmenmarkt, and the Museumsinsel (Museum Island) are but a few names on a star-studded list. But what about the Reichstag?you ask
petulantly, stamping an impatient foot. Yes, you will get to see the Reichstag.
“What about the Arc de Triomphe, you continue, confused. No, the Arc de
Triomphe is in Paris. But we hear it's very attractive.

12:00 noon - Friedrichstrasse and Unter de Linden

Friedrichstrasse is quiet impressive, since most of it was destroyed in the war the building that now grace this part of berlin are innocuous mix of the old and new - shiny glass with ancient stone.

2:20 p.m - The Tour has began

Tour guides are magnetic, we stand their all huddling around listining to her on this crowded sidewalk as berlin comes to life with swift moments of the tongue and expressive probing movements of hands. The tour guide in question here is youngish Brit called Anne -who happens to be leaving for Norway tomorrow to meet her musician boyfriend {the latter infomation being hearsay}.

Author's Note -0- All the infomation learnt on the tour has already been written about in - Berlin Photo Diary and Trivial Thoughts on Berlin and can be read there.

7:00 p.m - Tired

We're pretty tired and we have to check out of The Circus {Hostel} and move to West Berlin and check into Meninger's City Hostel.
DAY - 1
4:10 am - Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai

Our flight seems to have arrived late from 'New Yark' and hence is delayed . Delayed by how much they don't say. The departure area consists of a miss and match of people - noisy NRI families, snoozing business travelers and the odd back packer. The experience till now has been pretty much painless.

** Thoughts breezing by **
- Indians don't change only their accents do
- Forming single lines is a very complex activity.

6:45 a.m Arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Dehli

On the Plane.

It's somewhat strange reading Thomas Friedmans' "Latitudes and Longitudes - The World in the Age of Terrorism". Strange for no other reason but I'm reading it on a plane, the object most of the world associates with terrorism itself. What makes this reading ironic is my destination, Berlin. The city Friedman and many thinkers think of the place where the world threw out socialism bringing the world closer. As Friedman himself puts it 11/9 the day the Berlin wall fell the world became smaller also incidently on 9/11 when the WTC towers came down some walls came up again.

12 : 36 p.m - Landed at Frankfurt Airport

On the Train to Berlin

2:56 p.m
I'm finally in Germany and presently on the 2:10 Inter City Express to Berlin. I remember being impressed by these trains on my last visit to germany in '98 their brilliant and fast too.
The people on the train are mainly german [understandably] who are entertaining themselves with varied occupation. The usual being sleeping or reading or working etc.
It's the peak of Summer and eventhough it's 30 degrees outside it's pretty cool and pleasant compared to the sultry bombay.
Looking out of the window you get to see allot wind mills - looks like Germany is really into renewable energy and this something I didn't notice this on my earlier trip for some reason may be it's a recent development.

** Thoughts Breezing By **
Watching railway tracks pass by at speed is like watching some one shuffle cards. They split into twos and threes and they combine up again. A satisfactory illusion the eyes.

Berlin -

5:45 pm

Berlin is parked with this undertone of coolness, your sense pick up immediately as your train rolls in, its red brick building greet you darning political graffiti and it's people ethnically diverse to it's history not always bright at it's present. I think I like Berlin - this I tell you being here only a few minutes.

[Travel - S-7 to Alexanderplatz ; U8 to Rosenthaler Platz ]
Our home for the night is The Circus Hostel. It's a mustard and creme turn of a century building at the corner of Rosenthaler platz in what was east berlin. The hostel itself has young pleasant vibe to it like most hostel do.

7:40 pm

My first of Berlin had to be authentic and authentic it was. There is nothing more berliner than doner kebab.