Berlin baby!

I had to check my website, my diary, to see how many trips I’ve made this year, but right before 2010 is over I’ve also been to Berlin, by invitation of my Danish friend Robin.

The first time I went to London this year was in February, to return in May twice and in August and September as well. On that last occasion I’d met my – in the meantime – good friend Robin and we went on a holiday to Italy and Croatia together in October. I’ve also been to Austria with my colleagues and to Luxembourg with my mum, so this far into Germany wasn’t really planned.

But you got to love real spontaneity. And some adventure. I’d booked train tickets and with all the cold white stuff outside you shouldn’t be surprised to arrive in the middle of the night, I was told by the two nice guys I met on my way out. Fortunately I was only three hours late. The train was comfortable and – very important – had power sockets. After finishing some work and jumping up and down though, I started to see an upside of changing trains and I wondered how I’d do in a flight to America…

Anyway, Robin waited for me at the huge Hauptbahnhof of Berlin, where it was very obvious we were having this holiday in the Christmas holiday season. Germans do know how to decorate everything. There wasn’t a tree in Robin’s house, but it was just as cosy without. The rather big balcony was covered in a thick blanket of snow and we enjoyed the view that evening staying in. Next morning he had plans to visit family and I rediscovered the awesomeness of the Global Positioning System on my phone, which prevented me from getting lost in a beautiful park just outside the centre. The lake was undercover, though a few people skating on it gave it away. And while the sunbeams played with the trees I kind of felt one with the world; corny as that may sound.

On Monday Robin showed me the city centre and while he was the perfect tour guide, having lived east before the fall of the wall, I was the interested tourist asking lots and taking pictures for another picture book. We saw the Fernsehturm in Alexanderplatz, the Berliner Dom, we walked through Unter den Linden to Brandenburger Tor and after some hot chocolate (in at least 30 different variations!) we saw the impressive Holocaust-Mahnmal, Checkpoint Charlie at the Friedrichstrasse and of course the parts left of the Berliner Mauer.

We saw the not restored part of the wall at the Niederkirchnerstrasse, but also the 1316 metre famous East Side Gallery. My camera saw pretty much every painting on it and I think the drawing of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ made the biggest impression on me. After that, a stop at Starbucks to defrost my hands was a necessity.

Not that we felt like complaining! We also enjoyed the weather by making snow angels after failing to find a shop still selling sleighs. And we generally took it easy, did some work, and appreciated each other’s company. Can recommend it to everybody.

Pictures: Hanny van Arkel.

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