Thursday, February 21, 2008

And the walls came a-tumbling down

Hello again from Berlin. I was in luck and my host lent me his camera so you need not worry about that on my account. I am stopping to use up the rest of my internet ticket before heading to the Pergammon museum. My flight is at 10 tonight so I have a good day ahead of me. The place I am staying is really friendly and I've met a ton of awesome people, and if I can get by the rest of today on €7 then I'll have only spent €40, plus the 40 pounds to get here. Pretty good.

Yesterday I went on an 'alternative berlin' tour, which was pretty awesome. Our group consisted of me, two others who were staying in the same place, and another American who I managed to pick out to ask if he spoke English in order to ask if he knew where the tour met. He didn't, he was wondering the same himself, but sure he could speak English. Can't I spot 'em! The friendly guide took us round to a bunch of spots popular with the local nitty gritty. We saw an old building, former Nazi HQ that had been co-opted by a bunch of avant guarde artists, tons of graffitti murals including the biggest one in the world, a second-hand store that sold clothing by weight, a famous squat house, a bombed out railway station that had been converted into a recreation center, and of course the Berlin wall where we snuck behind some ineffective fencing and walked along the behind of the East Side Gallery. (I will come back and add links to these things and pictures when I get back so you will see what I am talking about.) He leaned a piece of the fencing against the wall so we could climb it and take pictures, an activity described as "borderline illegal" but what a great photo-op! It's not everyday you get to climb the Berlin wall. We also had some really awesome kebab. I'd reccomend the guided tour to anyone who is visiting Berlin and interested in that kind of thing. Technically it's free but since the guides are only paid in tips you really should give them something if you liked the tour at all. However they are understanding if you have spent the last seven years of your life in higher education and don't have much to give.

It's been really nice, the weather not too bad, it only rained a bit on the first day, touch wood. Berlin is such an interesting city, mix of gritty and nice in its modernity. It reminds me of Belgrade in a way, but I suppose that is hardly surprising.

Now off to the museum. I thought I might buy the pass and see the other ones, but I'm walking around sightseeing so there's not really that much time and also I think that would put me at not enough to take the U-Bahn to the airport, which is kinda essential so...

There is always next time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Update from Berlin

It is cold, cold cold.

And I am stupid, stupid, stupid.

The first thing I saw when I came out of the U-bahn was the Erenst and Young, so I thought I would take a picture for John. Except my camera wouldn't turn on. I opened it up and sure enough, the battery is gone. Way to go! I took it out to charge it and, wary of this exact danger, warned myself to double check that I put it back in. Which I thought I did. Apprantly not. Win.

It is not the worst thing to have forgotten, but it is ONE of the worst, when you are as addicted to taking pictures as I am. I am sure my mother is turning over in her grave.

I guess I'll have to see if I can borrow a camera from the people I am staying with, otherwise buy a disposable one, ick.

Other than the fact my shutter finger is itching, Berlin so far is great (if grey). It's enough to make a histroy nerd such as myself tingle with glee. Berlin walls, Brandenburg gates, memorials to murdered Jews of Europe, kitchy street performers dressed as DDR soldiers selling passport stamps to non-exsistent countries (I know I probably shouldn't have him put it in my real passport.... yet so tempting!!!)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Also known as a doughnut

Well, I am off to Berlin now. Probably I am forgetting something really important. You'd think I'd be better at leaving by now.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cheap or free things to do in London:

Just a quick thing I wrote up to advise someone else. Thought I might as well share.

Orientate yourself with a long walk. Start at Buckingham Palace, walk down the mall to Westminster, then walk along the Thames river path (either side). Gaze at St Paul's from across the Millennium Bridge and the outside of the recreated Globe theatre from the outside, nearby. If you have the energy, continue along Southwark towards the London Bridge.

Walk down Portobello road market on a Saturday. Buy lunch from one of the amazing food stands. Stop in the Travel Bookstore to browse. (

Take the lift to the top floor of the Tate modern and enjoy the view. Take the shuttle boat to the tate for a cheap river cruise and an efficient way of getting between the two museums. (

There are so many parks and museums in London, all free, it is hard to pick which ones you want to go to! Don't miss the British Museum or National Gallery. Sit is near-by Russell Square or Trafalgar Square (respectively) and people watch.

Get lost in the West End. Ask at box offices of theatres for cheap last minute seats, if that's your thing. Explore Covet Garden.

Grab a curry and some beigels in Brick Lane. (

Attend evensong at St Paul's ( or an organ recital at Westminster ( and see the inside for free!