13 March 2014

A Survey of Mass Transit from Berlin to Prague

Today was a day of continuous travel from Berlin all the way to Prague.  Of course, once we got to Dresden, we couldn't find out connecting train at all on the Abfahrt screen, so I was forced to talk to one of the customer service people in my primitive German.  She didn't speak English either, so I couldn't even bail my ass out out.  Anyway, she told me that our train had been rerouted due to construction, so instead of taking a train to Usti Nad Labem and then transferring a final time, we had to take a bus to Usti instead and then take a train to Praha.  Ah, details. 

On the flip side, there was a Biomarkt at the Dresden station, so we stocked up on vegan snacks like too-salty tapenade, Flaxseed bread, fruit juice (my fave), apples, mandarin oranges, paprika potato chips and organic chocolate.  You know, the basics.  After taking a quick bus to Usti where all the passengers were talking in Czech, we took a final train to the Praha Hlavní Nádraži.  Then we pulled our suitcases to Bolzanova Avenue and took the 25 tram to our awesome hotel, The Prague Art Hotel.  Every wall covered in amateurish kitsch.  After turning on the TV (one of my fave things to do in a foreign country), I saw the following things:

1.  Two separate channels dedicated to House music videos.  I kinda loved it

2.  A game show sorta like TV boggle where callers could supposedly win money by correctly spelling unfinished words that were way too obvious.  The funny thing is, no one called in.  The hostess was being completely ignored, so she just stood there with the mic in her hand, shaking her head in disbelief.  Maybe it had something to do with the half-naked woman dancing in the bottom right corner of the screen.  But that's just a guess

3.  Paraplegic hockey

4.  American westerns dubbed in Czech  

At the Dresden Central Train Station

At Berlin's Hauptbahnhof
LB Sleeping on the way to Dresden
Our Location According to My iPhone, Halfway to Prague!
Inside the Dresden Station

12 March 2014

In the Mitte of Things

I've always been slightly fascinated with East Germany, but only as a historical tourist.  No real commitment, no endless research or anything like that, but after reading some books on World War II, watching The Lives of Others and spending a long day walking through Alexanderplatz, or The Alex, as Berliners affectionately call it, I'm even more fascinated by East Germany than before.  Spending part of yesterday and almost all of today in Mitte, I find myself wanting to read up on European history all over again.

Anyway, I digress.  Eventually, after exploring Alexanderplatz, taking a gazillion pictures of the Fernzehturm, comparing times between LA, Chicago, Lima, Berlin, Prague and Vienna on the World Clock and walking past Alexanderhaus, LB + I had an intense déj̀a vu of The Bourne Supremacy.  Afterwards, we walked to the cute, bougie part of Mitte before heading to Museum Island where we saw the famous bust of Nefertiti and walls of meticulously written hieroglyphics at the Neues Museum, which was frankly amazing except for the endless tour groups of European teenagers laughing and taking notes for some school project.  We took a few more pics of Museum Island--because it's amazing, even with all the construction going on--and then walked to Kopps, this pricey vegan restaurant in Mitte that got great reviews on Happy Cow for its décor and presentation.  Get the lava cake.  It was absolutely delicious.

Our first hour at The Alex
The Weltzeituhr (World Clock)
Reminded me of a Cosmonaut Space Age
Hipster Flowers
Random Alleys in Mitte
When Mitte Started to Have Its Sway on Me.  (May or May Not Be Related to the Disappearance of the Chainsmoking Hipster in My Last Picture)
Berliner Dom
Museum Island, En Route to the Neues Museum
Hieroglyphic Dedication
Berliner Dom
En Route to Dinner in Mitte
Inside Kopps
Amazing Lava Cake.  Too Bad it Took an Hour to Arrive!
One Last Look at Alexanderplatz

11 March 2014

Searching for Pieces of the Berlin Wall

Our first two days in Berlin were a lesson in contrast.  We couldn't check into our hotel until 3 o'clock in the afternoon and our flight had arrived at 8 in the morning, so we sorta had no choice but to walk around Berlin in a daze.  Eventually, after eating some falafel salad at a nearby park, we gathered our wits and took the U-Bahn to this vegan store in Prenzlauer called Veganz where we bought lots of fruit, multigrain bread and jam for breakfast, and of course, snacks.  Lots of snacks.  When we finally made it back to your hotel in Schöneberg, we were spent, so we took a four hour nap, woke up and snacked some more, and then went to bed early so we could get an early start.

The next day, LB + I were ambitious walkers as we always are when we travel, covering an insane and cyclical itinerary that began in Schöneberg and continued to Potsdamer Platz, Unter den Linden, Gendarmenmarkt, Friedrichstadt and then back to the Reichstag in Unter den Linden.  In all, we probably walked close to ten miles in one day.  It was a beautiful day for walking and a perfect introduction to Berlin. 

The International Terminal at O'Hare
Taking the U-Bahn to Veganz
Sattelite Dishes
Potsdamer Platz
The First Remnant of the Berlin Wall We Found
Denkmal für die Ermodeten Juden Europas
Denkmal für die Ermodeten Juden Europas #2
Brandenburg Gate
Französischer Dom
Gendarmen -markt #2
Where the Former Line Separating East and West Germany Used to Be
Where the American Sector Began during the Cold War
Sunset in Friedrichstadt
Other Pieces of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall #2
Inside Die Reichstag
Die Reichstag #2
View of Berlin from Die Reichstag
Berlin at Dusk
Berlin at Dusk #2
U-Bahn #2
Walking through Unter Den Linden
Denkmal für die Ermodeten Juden Europas #3
LB taking Fotos of the Berlin Wall
Gendarmen- markt #3
Communist Bears