Monday, June 20, 2011

The Big City

Sorry for the delay in posts, but we have just been busy with several different things, where I have then not properly had time to write up my posts. But I have got a few that just need finishing off, and so will hopefully all be posted over the next few days.

So on the last weekend of May we went to Berlin to visit Stefanie's aunt and her girlfriend. We set off by train on Thursday morning at 10:42, the train journey was to be about 3.5 hours long, and we had brought the mornings sudoku with us to do, but unfortunately nothing else. This wasn't a problem however, as I came up with the idea for us to re-create our favourite game ourselves. So this involved me drawing the board on a piece of paper. However we didn't have a dice with us to play with, so Stefanie set about tring to create one. However as we had no glue with us, this didn't really work, so I just created some numbers on seperate pieces of paper that we would put into the cube she had created and then we would pick them out, serving as our 'dice'. For counters we were going to create them from paper, but then had the idea to actually use coins as our counters, and this worked quite well. Creating the game and then playing it actually passed the time quite well and soon we were in Berlin südbahnhof and changing onto the S-Bahn to get down to where her aunt lives.

Although living in Berlin, her aunt actually now lives in a little town of itself which is called Königs Wusterhausen, so therefore from getting off the train we had to take the  S-bahn for 30 minutes which was quite annoying as the journey is not really that far, but because the train stops all the time it takes forever. But we got there in the end, and waiting for us where Stefanie's aunt and her girlfriends daughter. So we then drove to the house, which is a very nice house. Soon after Stafanie's grand-parents arrived along with Anke. So that evening we then had dinner all together on the patio.

So on Friday Stefanie and I went into the centre of Berlin by ourselves. We got dropped off near to Alexanderplatz, where there is a nice little shopping boutique area, so to begin with we went around there and to look at what all the shops had. They were all independant stores, and so had their own items that you wouldn't find anywhere else, although the prices did tend to reflect this. From here we then walked to Alexanderplatz itself and past the TV Tower, and headed down to the fountain that is there. We knew that we wanted to head towards the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag but were not sure in what direction we really needed to go. But luckily for us there was a sign that actually told us that the gate was 2km away, so we decided that we would just slowly walk towards it, as we did have all day to just do what we wanted to.

So we decided to head off in the right direction with the aim of getting there at some point in the afternoon. We stopped along the way at the cathedral to have a look on the outside and to walk along the river a little before then heading once again in the right direction. As we were nearing the gate we came across Madame Tussauds so on the spur of the moment we just decided to go inside. There were some very interesting figures inside there, especially ones from German history and I will include some pictures at the end of us with some of them. However there was one that made us really think about their decision. They had included a figure of Hitler, although they had put him behind a glass screen and there was a notice asking you to not take pictures of him or with him. So okay, yes he is a very large part of German history and one of the main influential people that many people will think about if you ask them about Germany, so in that sense it was right to include him. But in a place like Madame Tussauds where people go to have their picture taken next to famous people, for them to include him and then have a notice asking you not to take pictures as it may offend people to us was a little strange.

So from here we then walked on further till we got to the Brandenburg gate where we took some photos and then headed round the corner to the Reichstag. We wanted to go onto the grass which is outside of the Reichstag, but it was all sealed off for some reason. We think we remember reading that the Swedish Royal Family were in Berlin or something, so this could have been the reason. But we still managed to get some pictures outside anyway.

We then knew that we needed to get back to Alexanderplaty so that we could a) go to the restaurant that we wanted to and b) take the train back to Königs Wusterhausen, however neither of us really wanted to do the 2km walk again. All day we had been seeing a variety of different ricshaws to ride in. So we found one really quickly and decided that we would ask how much is would be for them to take us to Alexanderplatz. It was a price we were willing to pay, so we got in and enjoyed the leisurely ride back. We were actually amayed that we had walked as far as we had, because on the ricshaw it even seemed like quite a long distance, but it was a much nicer way to travel back, as opposed to walking again.

We then tried to find the Italian restaurant that Stefanie had been to before, although she insisted that every restaurant that we passed was not the one. Before turning back to one which I had pointed out and her saying that she was sure it still wasn't the same one, even though the menu was EXACTLY the same. But still we went in anyway as it did look like a nice place to eat. But apparently it still was not the same place, although they had the exact same waiters. We decided that as it was still a bit early that we would have a drink firs and then order our food course by course. This worked out to be a really good way to eat as it meant that the meal was really spread out. It was not till the bill came along with a card for the restaurant that Stefanie actually admitted that it was the same place, as the pictures on the card looked like what she remembered, followed by going to the bathroom and seeing the room where she had eaten in before. Although to a slight extenet she would still not admit that it was the same place.

So we then headed to the train station to try and take an earlier train that what we were going to as we were now getting tired. We managed to get our tickets and make the train. This time we were actually able to take a Regional express train, which meant we did not stop all of the time and it was quicker than when we had had to travel on the S-Bahn.

On the Saturday we then went on a boat tour through the city. We went with everyone else, which included Stefanie's grandparents, her aunt, her aunt's girlfriend, her daughter and grandmother. The boat trip gave us a different way to see the city, and meant that we could easily take pictures as there was nobody in our way. Although being outside on the top deck did get a little cold at some point because of the wind, so we had to then go down. But after a little bit it had got warmer again so we could go back outside. Whilst inside I had my first experience of curry-wurst and actually really liked it :). After the boat tour which lasted for 4 hours! We then went back and had some dinner.

On Sunday we went for lunch at a restaurant on the water at a different little village near to Konigs Wusterhausen. And then also went for a walk along the river after we had eaten. After our first two days of being very busy, it was nice to then just do something very slowly, but to also enjoy the day. From here we then traveled for 30 minutes in the car to another town. Here we had some cake and ice-cream and also another look around.

On Monday it was then time for us to leave. We had originally planned to take the train back, but as it was Stefanie's Aunt's birthday we stayed for longer and then got a lift back in the car later in the day.

So for the day we went out to a restaurant at a hotel. It was located on a lake, and it was also a really hot day, so it made the lunch really nice. I had some lamb to eat and Stefanie had pasta. After lunch we went down to the water and saw that they had pedalos. So we went up and got the key for one of them, and then took it out on the water. It was really fun, although much harder than it looks, especially when the one we had had a strange rudder that did not match up to the position of the handle to steer it. But we did manage to get going in the end and went out on the lake. As it was breezy we kept on drifting  away from where we were heading, so we took cover in the part of the lake that was covered by trees.

After we had been on the lake for a while, we then headed back to the restaurant for dessert. I saw that they had a strawberry one, so obviously went for that. When it came out on was on three tiers, with ice-cream on top, then strawberry cake and finally actual strawberries at the bottom. I clearly chose the best dessert compared to everybody else.

So it was then time to return back to Erfurt. So we all got in the car and started the 3.5 hour journey back. But I fell asleep, so managed to pass some of the time quite easily.

Outside the Fernsehturm.

On the bridge opposite the Cathedral.

In Madame Tussauds with Barack Obama.

Brandenburg Gate.

Making big bubbles :).


Our Rickshaw ride back to Alexanderplatz.

On the boat.

Great Chocolate Cake.

More amazing dessert.