Sun 17 Nov - Berlin, Germany

Hanging around town...

Today, things did not turn out the way we wanted. At least not initially.

As it is a Sunday, we had planned to go to the Mauerpark, a stretch of Cold War no mans land which had developed into a park on its eastern, former East Berlin side and a Sunday market on its western, former West Berlin side. In fact, the site used to be the home of Northbahnhof which explains it north / south narrow footprint.

So, what went wrong then...

Well, the Mauerpark is some kilometers north of where we stay in Hackescher Markt and to get there, Google Maps suggested the M1 tram.

First problem, when we arrived at the tramstop, no tram service due to track maintenance. Of course, we had no alternative plan B other than follow the tracks north through walking. Eventually, an M1 tram appeared, from somewhere else, we jumped on, and our exit station listed by Google Maps was not there.

Well, we got off in the vicinity of the Mauerpark, next to this elevated train corridor. Looked very Chicago.

And from the other side of Schönhauser Allee where we got off the tram.

We knew and could see that Mauerpark was a little bit to the west of here, and to get there, we passed the Max Schmeling Halle where Berlin Open in table tennis was in progress. Quite a few punters out there Sunday morning on their way to watch some table tennis action.

Popular German sport it seems as also Johannes, our host in Hamburg, played it competitively.

There is a 30 meters or so stretch left of the Berlin Wall up a small hill in the Mauerpark and that had to be explored. One word came to mind...: Graffiti.

It is possible that this swing dates back to the Cold War era and that West Berliners used it to check out the other side of the wall. It certainly looked that way.

Still standing in the former West Berlin with the former East Berlin on the other side of the fence.

This was quite telling and very much Berlin. An overloaded garbage bin, with presumably empty spray cans all around it and one on top of it, with the garbage bin also getting a makeover.

OK, it is at the former Berlin Wall but anyway.

Looking down at the Mauerpark from the Mauer itself and you can see the market grounds. Let's check it out.

Next to the entrance to the markets... Not that much activity when we arrived, perhaps we were too early at around 10.30am...

No, there are no markets today... They were on yesterday Saturday this weekend and also next weekend due to some public holiday... Problem number 2 for today.

We could overhear that even many locals got caught out on this, so not very well advertised.

The only good thing is that we are still in Berlin next Saturday but we will be leaving for München on Sunday morning which will give us another chance to check this out.

Our reaction...

Location photo... Yep, it looked pretty empty.

There were actually a handful of food stands open anyway, like this "beach setting"...

And this discoball had clearly seen much better days... perhaps in the 70s.

And this guy who offered 13 types of mustard to go with his wurst. A record?

Well, after loitering around the semi deserted markets and the Mauerpark for a while, we made a move towards Gesundbrunnen train station in our quest to give the Kreuzberg area a second try as we failed to find the interesting parts last time.

On the way, we passed through an underpass for long disused or nonexistent railtracks as part of the long gone Nordbahnhof above. The underpass on Gleimstraße looked old and a bit spooky and very cool.

Along the way to Kreuzberg, we did a pit stop at the Brandenburger Tor for a cuppa and a loo visit. Yep, the circus around the Tor was even worse on Sunday midday. What the heck is this vehicle? DIY tour?

After continuing the train to Yorckstraße station and a short walk we arrived at Kreuzbergstraße.

Walking eastwards on Kreuzbergstraße, it still wasn't really the funky place that we expected. On the street's southern side is Victoria Park which is up on a hill, a rarity in the very flat Berlin. So, we wandered up to its highest point to see whether we could detect anything interesting from up there.

What we found was this, a Prussian war memorial with the full English name of "Prussian national monument for the liberation wars". Looked grand and interesting enough and with the ever present graffiti on it.

There was a direct and open line from the memorial to Großbeerenstraße and beyond towards town. Looked good and probably all the punters took photos of it from there.

The top of the hill required a "selfie".

We exited Victoria Park on its eastern side and arrived back at Kreuzbergstraße and now it looked more happening. Kreuzbergstraße changes name here at Mehringdamm and becomes Bergmannstraße. Hi Di...

Well, Kreuzberg from what we understand used to be dinky area with lots of poor immigrants residing there. The diversity was evident in people on the streets and the types of eateries present, but it definitely did not look poor.

This is a side street to Bergmannstraße. Looked pretty affluent to us...

What...? Hans hates this song by Lionel Richie. In his view, it is a perfect example of why ballads should be left to rockers, they are much better at it.

Lunch and we decided on this place. As you can see from the awning, different types of cuisine are on offer, but there were punters there, prices were low and it felt like it had good karma.

Yep, the warmth and the smell of spices that we were met with as we entered the Tibet Haus were mouthwatering...

We sat just outside the open kitchen and could see all the happenings from pole position. The chef looked Indian but not quite so we reckon he is probably from up there in the Himalayas somewhere.

The food arrived - curries with rice, coleslaw and lentil soup. Yes, it was delicious. And you know reader, with drinks Hans had a 50cl Erdinger and Di had a Coke, the whole lot came to 16€, perhaps $22, an absolute bargain. Very tasty.

We just had to include this photo from the men's at Tibet Haus. We could surely come up with several smartar*e comments or jokes here but let's just let the photo speak for itself...

After stuffing ourselves, we were back waiting for the S-bahn train to arrive at Gneisenaustraße station. A few pics from there...

OK, this is one of Hans favourite German words and it is not "Preise".

The train arrived and this is how this carriage looked inside, where the seats had the pattern of an explosion in a lolly shop. There must be a very good reason for that decor and beauty is not it.

Is this the German take on a well known American handgun?

We got off the train at Brandenburger Tor yet again but this time to get tickets for getting into the Bundestag building, or more precisely its dome, which we want to do on Tuesday. It is not the straight forward affair that you may think, different time slots for visitors are allocated and a photo id with registration is required. Oh well, we have tickets now for 3.30pm on Tuesday.

From the Brandenburger Tor we decided to walk back home. The weather today was overcast but a little bit less cold shall we say than what it has been the last couple of days.

A couple of photos along the way...

We liked this graffiti add-on as we both like it when somebody is trying to come up with something "insightful" and they are then taken down a notch. It says "Better to be a lion for one day than to be a sheep your whole life" where somebody added "Try being human". Funny.

We stumbled onto this elaborate statue and memorial outside a university hospital.

As we had never heard of Albrecht von Graefe before, our subsequent online research told us that he was a German pioneer in Ophthalmology, the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye, which explains the tool that he carried which we couldn't make out what it was at the time.

The hospital area is huge with many and varied buildings including this monster, a clear relic from the communist era, riddled badly with concrete cancer and who knows what so badly that the ground floor area had been closed off with fences. Truly, the building looked awful to the extent that it was almost laughable.

Moving on and graffiti, yes graffiti. How on earth did they manage to tag this whole 4-5 storey wall?

And yes, there is an American school bus there, now forming part of a cafe which unfortunately was closed as we passed there on Torstraße.

And this is immediately to the left of the previous picture. This mural looked good.

On our way home we also passed this Japanese restaurant which a somewhat unusual claim. Unpleasant images flicked through our minds when we saw "Live Cooking"...

Moving right along...

Home around 4pm as the dark starts to make its presence known. A lazy hour or two may be what the doctor ordered and if not, too bad so sad, because that's what we had.

Di cooked up a Pasta Boscaiola which was very nice and accompanied with a glass of wine.

A quiet evening at home as tomorrow we have to move to another place in Berlin, on Leipzigstraße, so not very far from where we are at Hackescher Markt and also closer to the centre of town. No, no, we are not finished with Berlin just yet.

For now, it's over and out, good night.

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