Going east deep into former communist territory... Well, on the road to Berlin at least.
Our week in Hamburg is up and what a week it has been.
When we checked out Hamburg's weather forecast just before we left Noordwijk in the Netherlands, there was some rain predicted for every single day during the week and what did we get, a few spits here and there but nothing serious at all. Cold, yes, but it is November in Northern Europe after all.
Johannes had a Doctor's appointment early so he left the apartment just before 8am, after we shook hands and thanked him for the week. It had worked out really well as his apartment is in the most central place in Hamburg that you could think of, Neustadt, and is perfect for people coming to explore the city.
Daniella had her studies today but not until 10.15am so she had a bit of a sleep in while we had breakfast and were packing up our things. Once she was up, we realized that we didn't have any photo of her so here is one of Daniella and Di on Johannes' couch.
Bye to Daniella too and we were ready to go although our bus would not leave ZOB, Zentrale Ominbus Bahnhof, which is next to Hauptbahnhof until midday.
The extension handle to Di's bag finally decided to call it a day and despite various amounts of violence to get it out, it refused to leave its compartment. In fact, both our bags start to look and feel a bit rusty so we would need to find new ones in Berlin. For now, the extension of a tied up plastic bag would have to facilitate rolling of Di's bag.
Of course, we arrived at Hauptbahnhof 10.30am which gave us enough time for a cuppa... And a bratwurst... And for Di ein kartoffeln salat.
The area around ZOB was a bit dodgy with plenty of beggars and winos drinking directly out of 50cl pils and weissbier bottles (a different type of alcoholic here...). Several gypsies were loitering in the area asking for money...
Our first experience with European long distance buses outside of the UK (Berlinlinenbus was the company we used) was a bit mixed. The bad...
- Online tickets no good. We tried to enter the bus showing the .pdf file containing the bar odds on the phone but were told to go into the ticket office and have them printing the tickets for us... Only to give the those paper ticket away as we entered the bus. Nothing automatic here in this area in Germany.
- Each piece of luggage to be stored costs 1€ and you give it to the guy loading it
- Punctuality was not good. Our experience from the US, Canada and the UK was that when the bus said it was departing, it was indeed departing. 5 minutes after departure time, our driver was still having his smoko outside the bus
- Wifi was awful, slow slow and kept dropping out regularly. Hans soon gave up trying to do anything meaningful online.
The good was that for each checked in piece of luggage, we received a receipt which said that we would be entitled to up to 1,000€ per bag should something happen to it. And there was nothing wrong with the seating and the comfort, plenty of space there.
A few pics from the bus...
We arrived at Ostbahnhof in Berlin just after the scheduled arrival time of 3.30pm. Our S-bahn stop to get to where we would be staying, which is the Mitte and Mulakstraße 25, Hackescher Markt was only 3 stops away from Ostbahnhof. Around 4.15pm we arrived and were met by Rita, the apartment owner.
All good and we soon settled in. The apartment is a quirky 5 room set up in a long row, all rooms being very small. Here is Di in the living room with the stuffed hippo...
The kitchen is tiny but has a homely atmosphere to it.
The bedroom is, well also tiny, and the double bed barely fits into its space.
This room is between the bathroom and the kitchen and that is where the fridge and the wardrobe are as they didn't fit anywhere else. We could only speculate of how this apartment looked once upon a time, but we felt like it may have been more than one apartment as well as an extension making it what it was today.
Looking down onto the courtyard.
And if we open up our front door, this is what we see. Pretty cool, hey?
After sharing a weissbier that was already in the fridge when we arrived and possibly left by the previous tenant, we decided to explore the immediate neighborhood. Dark comes quickly and at 5.30pm, daylight is all but gone.
We hit the streets and eventually ended back at the S-bahn station of Hackescher Markt as we had seen quite a few restaurants when we arrived earlier.
The old market pavillions under the train line looked great in the dark.
After checking out a few places, we settled on this place for dinner - BBQ Kitchen.
Good karma, good and well priced menu and they were doing a BBQ platter consisting of a quarter duck, a quarter chicken and half a rib cage for 12€, perfect to share. The whole thing also came with 4 different dipping sauces and we ordered fries as extras. And an English menu to follow...
Of course, a meal like that could only be washed down with a weissbier according to Hans.
Just outside both the S-bahn station and the BBQ Kitchen restaurant, there was a bar / disco which extended out on the plaza.
They were serving Glühwein with a schuss for 3.50€ and that seemed like a great dessert. The schuss, shot, we had was Bacardi rum. Nice, hey?
So, sitting on a Berlin square in the dark, in the cold, next to a heater, with a blanket over the legs (well, Di anyway), we settled in, people watched and listened to music pumping out such as "Gang Nam Style" from Psy.
And after one Glühwein, we decided to... have another one. Well, the hot drink tasted really good in the cold.
We had noticed that a short distance away from the outdoor bar, it looked like some filming was taking place. So, once we finished our second set of drinks, we decided to take a look.
This is how it looked, but we were not sure what was going on here, whether it was the filming of a commercial, or a variety program with guests to come or even a motion picture. The names of various tech companies flashed by in the background such as Facebook and YouTube and Twitter, but who knows what it all meant...
After a bit of grocery shopping on the way back to the apartment, we settled in for an earlyish evening as the traveling does tire you out, as does the cold air. For now, from Berlin, Germany, it is good night from us.