Monday, April 25, 2011

Semana Once: Berlin: Salvation


8 April ~ 14 April 2011

The last time I wrote I was cowering in a corner holding all of my possessions dearly in a sketchy alleyway in Prague praying to the only god I know, Oprah, that I make it out of this twisted, evil carnival land alive. Elissa was with me as well praying to her god, sweet baby J. Feeling the presence of our gods rushing through our bodies, we made a dash to the bus station before it wore off and we woke up in one of Jigsaw’s puzzles—please not the head trap with a padlock one--that looked so complicated. The people onboard this bus from Hell to Berlin must have thought, “Oh, here come the stupid people” as we greeted the bus with open arms and embraced it, unlike I do with stranger’s babies they try to pass of to me as if I want to hold them. Really?

Our euphoria was quickly brought down to Earth as we again got lost getting to our hostel. We walked the Friedrichstrasse for a mile in each direction multiple times before getting the right direction. Checking in to our hostel was a bit of a mixed bag as we were greeted by the lead singer from Twisted Sister who was rocking out to some metal soundtrack. We seemed to be the only ones there under the age of 40 to stay at a sleeping establishment and sightsee and not waiting for the Motley Crue concert to start. Hopefully this was due to the fact that everyone our age was wasted and still in bed with hangovers and not up rocking out at 10 a.m.

Up first on our German visit was Checkpoint Charlie. When we arrived to the small hut with a fake American guard played by a German, we were a little confused as to who exactly Charlie was. There was a large pole with a sizeable photo of an American soldier. Is this Charlie? After a confusing couple of minutes we decided to bid adieu to Charlie, wherever he was, and go to the Brandenburg Gate. One of the most irritating things about visiting touristy places is the photo debacle that ensues. I’m so used to envisioning these places of importance as I see in National Geographic Traveler magazines clear of people and with optimal visual effects i.e. a beautiful sunset, an apocalyptic storm cloud, nighttime with streams of headlights and taillights, or pristine snow cover. So, when we arrived to Brandenburg Gate, there was not a sunset or any of the other cool things you see in pictures and even worse, there were people. I wanted to grab a megaphone and ask if anyone minded if they cleared so I could get my pictures. It would just be a few minutes. I mean, they did owe me, I had to listen to the Germanic language for far too long than my ears could handle--no offense :)

                                                                                  Brandenburg Gate

We then thought it would be cool to go into the Reichstag and see the city from the glass dome that was built on top. Unfortunately, some a-hole decided to call in a bomb threat at some point last November and it was not shut down to the public, unless you had reservations to the expensive restaurant up top. So terrorists can’t enjoy a nice meal? I don’t know if the Germans were too busy beer-guzzling on 9/11 but these people learned how to hijack and fly effing jumbo jets, so I think they will figure a way around the “dinner-reservation only” method of getting into the building. Not so difficult.

The next morning we went to the Neues Museum to see Egyptian and other ancient artifacts. The museum was spectacular on the inside and I plan on stealing many of their ideas for my future home. I should say everything was spectacular minus the asshole and sauerkraut-scented bathrooms which was…pleasant. The US Open could also gain some things from the museum, particularly their imposing and Hitler-like museum cops. Not only were these guards extremely physical as one literally pushed me back when I walked in a wrong door, but their eyesight was incredible. Elissa was “reading” the hieroglyphics to me when this German lady appeared next to Elissa and said, “Don’t touch!” This lady should definitely be working the lines at the US Open in place of the Asian woman that rocked Serena’s world (which I thought was uh-mazing). I would like to see the German guard and Serena go at it, although I still think Serena would literally eat her, but she’d put up a better fight than the cowardly Asian woman who was for some reason intimated by a pissed-off Serena.  

                                                Not that scary

 We left the museum to join up with our walking tour group of Berlin. The tour was OK minus the two losers that were with us as well. The one had asked the tour guide if he had ever seen this special series on the History Channel. Really? Yes, Germans get our basic cable line-up too. Why don’t you ask him if he watches American Idol while you’re at it? The other loser had a ridiculous ginger mustache and shabby baseball cap to cover up his equally obnoxious and disheveled ginger locks. Besides sleeping with one eye and listening to the tour guide with the other, he asked, when we visited the Empty Bookshelf Memorial if there were ever books in the library. This almost compares to the time when my brother argued that gravity is what held things up. (We hope he was just very tired).


Elissa and I kept remarking for the past two days at this point about the ubiquitous presence of sand everywhere—like it was sandier than boardwalks. We soon found out that Berlin, which is part of the province of Brandenburg, is known as the Sandpit and that it was built on top of sand, much like Florida. That explains that. The most amazing thing I learned on our trip is that Hitler’s former office and headquarters is now a Chinese restaurant. Oh, the irony.

The next morning we had to meet our other walking tour group for the tour of Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The camp was about twenty miles north of Berlin and we had to catch a train up to Oranienburg and then walk to Sachsenhausen. Of course, as the Universe would have it, there was a lady with a walking problem on our four-hour walking tour. I don’t mean to be rude to anyone with walking problems, but I find it rather selfish to sign up for a walking tour (as the website makes specifically clear) and then expect for everyone to wait for you. Not only did she hold us up now and again, but she was the bozo of the crowd that kept asking the questions that our tour guide had just explained, or better yet, as I deemed, completely stupid questions like “So what was it about the Jews that Hitler didn’t like?” Maybe it is a bit unfair of me to expect for someone to know the fundamental platform that launched the Holocaust when visiting a concentration camp, or perhaps in Australia (where she was from) they don’t learn about the Holocaust for seven straight years like we do.


Many of the original structures weren’t standing anymore, but that almost augmented the eerie and somber ambiance that envelops visitors when they enter the grounds. The worst part was walking to station Zed which is where the furnaces were that just make your stomach turn. While in the barracks, Elissa told me she saw a couple making out in the corner which, to me, just seemed a bit insensitive. As the tour progressed it became colder and colder, and the wind all the more strong. At this point, being improperly dressed, my concentration was lost and all I could think about was our reservations at the warm TV tower, also insensitive in retrospect.

Eventually, we did make it to the TV tower for our wonderful dinner after trying to break in through, apparently, an employee’s-only area. I still have yet to figure out how we ended up there. We both had the cream of parmesan soup to start which was divine. For our entrées we both chose the tortellini with ratatouille which was again, really good. The fun part was dessert. I had a normal, hazelnut-pecan-caramely sundae, while Elissa chose to have the “fitness sundae.” The fitness sundae includes what most people prize to eat for dessert: sour cream, poppy seed ice cream, raspberry vinaigrette, pesto pineapples, whipped cream, and more disgusting items I cannot remember at this point in time. And that freak liked it.



The dinner, with a 360° nighttime view of Berlin, was a perfect cap to a near-perfect hooky vacation. The following morning we made the rather long trip to Berlin Schoenfeld airport. This was my first time riding Ryanair and boy do you really get what you paid for. First of all, the seats do not even have seatback pockets. Secondly, there is not even a slightly organized system for seating as everyone stands like a bunch of animals penned up until the gates are opened and everyone goes crazy running to get on the plane. Thirdly, due to the absence of seatback pockets, the safety card instructions are printed on the seatbacks because yes, I do wish to stare at the crash-landing instructions for the entirety of a flight. I was just hoping that, in the unlikely event of a “water landing,” they weren’t going to whip out the waterproof credit card machines and charge for the life vests.

Other than that, Elissa, it was a pleasure, and I’m sorry for allegedly repeating things you had just said five minutes prior. 

Un saludo,

Bryce

4 comments:

  1. Gracias chica :) You BEST be getting your booty to Granada. Ciao

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  2. Like Lauren, I too like your take on RyanAir lmao

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  3. Ariel Booty shaker Poppins :)April 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    A few years ago Ryanair tried to charge a euro for the bathroom but apparently that is illegal, even in the lawless land of Europa. Love you Brycey, your wit is unparalleled. :*

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