Tag Archive for checkpoint charlie

Berlin

Well Berlin was interesting.

I’ve always wanted to go to Berlin – from a fascinating history to amazing night life, I’d heard such great things. But in our case, after a series of unfortunate events, we wound up escaping our hostel at 2am in the morning and heading to the safe haven that was Berlin Central station.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Berlin. The city itself, is amazing, and we spent a lot of time exploring and appreciating its history. However, to be fair, it was basically the hostels fault (and our lack of ability to read maps) that made Berlin hard. We didn’t really start off in the best of moods. We arrived late. It was raining – we were tired, we were cold, we were hungry, and we were wet. We found our way to the street our hostel was on and span round in circles desperately trying to find it, wondering if we were on the wrong street. We asked a passer by who pointed us in the right direction. Ah, there it was – a massive sign in bright lights proudly proclaiming the name – Rixpack.

“Hmmm…this is interesting” we thought as we approached the darkened alley leading up to the hostel. “Hm…what an interesting set up this is” we continued as we passed what I can only assume were old bus seats around a rickety table in a small bin area. We were then greeted by a locked door. With no door bell. Well not if you call string tied to a pan a door bell. No? Me neither. “Hm…what a conundrum.” We stood for a few seconds wondering what to do and then knocked tentatively on the door and waited. And then, a man approached, all smiles, and blonde hair and tall limbs. My friend and I looked at each other with the same look on our faces – well maybe this place won’t be so bad after all…Oh how wrong we were.

The hostel itself was a converted prison, although if you ask me, no conversion was done. Actually, they probably have better facilities IN prison. We were in a 12 bed dorm so we walked in expecting to see a full house, but no, just one middle aged man with a mass of curly hair sitting on the moth eaten sofa in the middle of the room. We said “hello” and he responded with a flurried German rant about “always locking door when we open and close the door”. Nice to meet you too.

The next morning I decided to brave the showers. The bathroom facilities were already pretty grim – dirty, small and the one shower I had seen was broken. I found some more showers and hoped for the best. It didn’t work. They were even worse, if that’s possible. As I stood in a small, cramped shower holding a shower head over my hair which occasionally spurted out some warm water, knowing that I was about to step into a dirty, wet room with a pube filled basin, I wondered if things could get any worse. Evidently, they could.

We decided to head to the typical tourist attractions – Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall…however this wasn’t as easy as it sounds. After consulting our map and fin2014-08-11 16.19.44ding the street Checkpoint Charlie was on and actually getting there we failed to find the actual checkpoint. We walked around like headless chickens for nearly 45 minutes wondering if the map was wrong and eventually resorted to checking out the only Checkpoint Charlie related thing we could see – a museum. The museum consisted of a series of tiny rooms with masses of information on which didn’t actually inform us of anything, and more often than not was repeated on other boards around the museum. So after wasting 9€ on that, we were feeling pretty deflated but then, as we left the museum and turned to our right, shining like the lights from Heaven were upon it, was Checkpoint Charlie. Right in front of us this entire time. We nearly cried with relief…and then hit ourselves for being so stupid. After a couple (I say couple, I think it wound up being around 30+..) with the guards (who managed to make me giggle and blush like a school girl) we headed over to the information quarter which basically told us everything the museum didn’t, for free.
We hit ourselves again for being so stupid and then continued on our way. We headed over to the biggest section of the remaining part of the Berlin Wall that was still standing. We walked down down it reading the graffiti and wondering what it must have been like to have a wall separating you from2014-08-11 15.57.22 parts of your own city.2014-08-11 15.50.41

We spent the afternoon in one of the local parks, reading in the sun. After spotting a few people completely starkers in the middle of the park, we discovered that it was in fact, a nudist park, which made for an awkward retreat back to the less naked part of society. On our way there we indulged in some specialty German cuisine – currywurst…probably one of the strangest concepts ever and I’m not going to lie, I think I can probably live the rest of my life without eating another!

Exhausted after a day of getting lost, being wooed by uniformed guards and averting our eyes from naked Germans, we were in desperate need of a drink and were excited to experience the famous Berlin nightlife. This being Berlin, we assumed we’d be able to find a bar or a club almost instantly but of course, this wasn’t the case. After walking up and down around 4 different streets desperately seeking for somewhere which didn’t sell kebabs we admitted defeat and bought Internet in order to find the nearest bar. Finally, we were seated in a cosy little bar having a couple of well deserved beers. Bliss. After calling it a night and telling ourselves tomorrow would be the night, we made our way back to the hostel where we were stalked by a man on a bike and then on arriving at the strange bus seats outside the hostel were set upon by a skinny Italian with a pony tail (no thanks). However, Mr Cute Receptionist was there too so it wasn’t all bad.

The next day we checked out some more tourist attractions including the TV tower which was demanding a 3 hour wait. After hitting ourselves for not being more organised and ordering tickets for things like this in advance, we decided to give it a miss and go catch the last few rays of sun out and about. We arrived back at the hostel and thought it was a good idea to “rest our eyes for 5 minutes”. This meant that we promptly fell asleep and woke up at 10.30 feeling confused and even more tired. We fought through our tiredness and headed out anyway (after being scolded by a bunch of French people in our room for keeping the light on too long. Sheesh, lighten up. ‘Scuse the pun). Again, we made a dismal attempt of trying to find somewhere to go but failed miserably. We seemed to be staying in the only part of Berlin which did not have any decent bars or clubs. Rather than staying out and spending unnecessary money, we decided to get back to the hostel and get a few hours sleep before our 6am train. But the night does not end there….
A couple hours later, we were escaping the hostel, jogging like turtles with our massive backpacks to find a night bus to the station. Whilst my friend (who was on the top bunk) was laying in bed on her phone, one of the middle aged men from our room made a disgusting attempt to try and make her go sleep in his bed whilst basically feeling her up. We decided enough was enough, and once he had finally got the message and gone to his own bed, we packed up our belongings and got the hell out of there. On checking out, we mentioned the encounter to the receptionist but it seemed he didn’t really understand and he laughed joyfully like we’d just told him a joke. Never mind. Sorry Mr Cute Receptionist, not even you can make up for our stay in Rixpack.

Berlin, you have exhausted us. Here’s to Vienna!