Saturday, 18 November 2017

Culture, Chocolate and... Currywurst

Friday 15th September

Our early start and bumper day took it out of me but after a ten hour sleep I was up bright and early, ready for another day. We headed back to the Brandenburg Gate area and made a beeline for the Reichstag. There’s a particularly impressive dome on top of the building that offers great views of the city, for free! Tickets were booked up online but each day they release 100 tickets per hour and all you need to do is pick a time slot. We showed our passports, got a time slot and then set off to begin our second day in Berlin.

We didn’t get that far before being stopped, by police! Thankfully we hadn’t done anything wrong, the road in front of the French embassy was closed to allow for a comprehensive motorcade to pass by. I had hoped Macron was coming to visit but it must have been some other high up official as I didn’t recognise him but the press certainly wanted his photo! Undeterred we pressed on and made it to museum island.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island houses some of Berlin’s most impressive museums. While we would, do have loved to have seen them all, our time was limited so we opted for the Pergamon Museum. Home to the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Market Gate of Miletus, the museum is undergoing renovations so while we missed the Pergamon Altar, we were impressed by the Middle Eastern ruins and the Islamic art. It’s no wonder it’s the most visited art museum in Germany!

Once we were all museumed out we set off in search of lunch.  On the way we stopped off for a look at Hedwig’s Cathedral, the library, the university and of course Bebelplatz, the famous square where the Nazis burned books that didn’t uphold their values and ideologies.  You might not be a historian but I bet you’re interested in Indiana Jones? Arguably one of the best trilogies (the fourth one doesn’t count) of all time, the Last Crusade features a scene that was based on this event.

The Gendarmenmarkt is home to some beautiful  churches and buildings and more importantly, the Augustiner Beer Hall. We visited the original in Munich and decided to call in for old times sake. Naturally I went for the overpriced and hardly cooked steak while Rory opted for an absolute monstrosity of a pork knuckle!  You would think that would fill us but as everyone knows, you have two stomachs; one for dinner and one for dessert.

Thankfully we were only feet from the Rausch Schokoladenhaus. Famous not only for their delicious chocolate, the shop contains giant chocolate sculptures and is probably what heaven looks like. We had a quick look around and then made our way upstairs where I had an iced hot chocolate topped with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and Rory had a hot chocolate.  Made with 450g of chocolate to every 1 litre of milk, it’s no wonder that this was the best hot chocolate I have ever had! But wait, it gets better.  Rory actually let me run wild, like a literal you child in a candy shop and I’m happy to report that I have returned home with a tin of said hot chocolate. By the time you’ve read this it will already be gone.

Naturally this excitement was all a bit much and so we went back to the hotel for a rest. We had booked the 4-5pm time slot for the Reichstag dome and so we arrived and after a short delay at the security checkpoint (how exactly do you explain to the security man that the aerosol in your backpack is dry shampoo?) we got in the elevator and made it to the roof. We had a nice walk round and began climbing up the dome just as the rain started. I opted for the free audio guide.  Rory did not. I repeated word for word what the audio guide said.  I’m sure Rory appreciated this.

Determined to fit a little bit more in before heading back to the hotel we made our way to the Jewish Museum. Presenting two millennia of German Jewish history with numerous interactive exhibits, I found the museum really interesting and it’s definitely worth a visit.

As I write this it might not seem possible but we were feeling a little bit peckish so decided to call in to Curry 36. Apparently, it’s the best Currywurst place in Berlin but I was a little bit disappointed - it was effectively sausage and chips covered in ketchup with a sprinkling of curry powder. Naturally I soldiered on and managed to polish it all off and from here there was nothing else to do but head back to the hotel and sleep off all the walking (by walking I really mean all the food)!