The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

First, We Take Manhattan

Posted by Exile on September 6, 2008

OK, that would have been nice, but it didn’t happen. We took Berlin though and had a great time in the biggest building site in all of Europe. I thought they were busy in Warsaw, but Berlin is recreating itself at an alarming rate.

Why were we in Berlin? Well, it was my father-in-law’s birthday treat. We can’t think of anything he needs, so buying a present is a bit of a chore, but an experience lasts forever. Last year it was London. This year, Berlin. We had a marvelous time.

We walked the length of Kurfürstendamm several times, saw the Reichstag, Brandenburg gate, Unter Den Linden, Tiergarten, Checkpoint Charlie, The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (or, what’s left of it after the RAF had virtually flattened it), Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all and sailed on the Spree, which snakes it’s way through the entire city centre.  We took the tour bus, traveled on the underground railway and generally enjoyed ourselves at every available watering hole we could find. Bratwürst, Currywürst, Wienerschnitzel and all other things good, washed down with lashings of Berliner Kindl beer. We shopped, which means that my good lady and her father went into shops while I stood outside and watched the street life. I hate shopping but what can one do? One tags along. At least I got to buy a little extra tobacco for the cellar and got to smoke my pipe in peace while I waited for them to gather souvenirs and homecoming presents for Mother-in-Law, who refuses to leave the homestead, choosing to remain firmly planted in her armchair in Denmark. She’s entitled to, she’s 82 years old. Bless her.

Checkpoint CharlieThe hotel was good. Not exactly the Hilton, but comfortable and the staff were terrific. We were only minutes from the centre of town. It’s called the Hotel Savigny and is on the Brandenburgerische Str. No. 21. I can recommend it. The lift is a superb piece of antique engineering that opens by hand, rattles and clanks like nobody’s business and moves at a sedate speed on it’s vertical travels. I have no idea how old it was, but it was a joy to be able to see all the brass mechanical bits whirring and rotating as the thing moves.

I was not impressed by Schönefeld Airport. Tempelhof is closed to commercial airlines now. The historic airport carries only aircraft with up to twelve passengers. Private stuff and so on. Hard to think, it once fed the entire western side of the city. Berlin desperately needs a new airport, or at least, a complete rebuild of one of them. The terminal is badly in need of a facelift and a bit more room.

This was my second real visit to Berlin and probably won’t be my last. It’s interesting to watch a city renew itself. I think I’ll go back in about ten years. Maybe some of the giant cranes will be gone by then. Who knows?

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