We are lucky enough to have good friends staying in Berlin, so we took advantage of their hospitality for the holidays (almost all 2 weeks of them) and they gave up all of their personal space for the duration. (Thanks guys!!) Berlin over the holidays is especially exciting for a couple of reasons: the Christmas markets and NYE; neither disappointed
We spent a good deal of time wandering around the city in our first couple of days, either to tour the city or to look in vain for Chinese food to meet Luke's craving.
All sorts of funny characters at the Brandenburg Gate. Darth is having a smoke break with the bronze statue; this was entertaining
This is a memorial to the murdered gypsies during the war.
This is us in front of the Government building, the formerly known as the Reichstag.
On our way back toward the main centre, we found the Holocaust Memorial:
We also found the Rittersport Museum/Store:
And of course, Berlin is just photogenic:
Though is wasn't too cold in Berlin, we (okay, I) used the cold plenty of times as a reason to stop at the Christmas markets for some gluwein (hot wine)
I like this picture, even though my eyes are closed.
Here are a few shots from Christmas Morning chez Nick and Jonny's:
Our gracious hosts
Nick and I made a fabulous meal, and afterward, Jonny, for reasons unbeknownst to all, decided to revert to his natural state by taking off his pants and serenade us with a sexy (not so sexy!) dance:
On one of our walks around the city, we followed a walking tour trying to find art murals on the sides of buildings, finishing with the East Side Gallery. Here are a few of the highlights:
On one of the days after Christmas, we spent a day learning about the Berlin Wall - a memorial had been set up along several blocks to show where the wall had been, and showed how the first floor apartments had been bricked up to prevent escape to the other side; there were also audio accounts from residents at the time describing their experiences when the wall went up. After a short break at a coffee shop, we made our way to Checkpoint Charlie.
The highlight of Berlin for us was, of course, New Years Eve. The whole week leading up to it, loud bangs sounded off randomly throughout the city, and we soon realized this was fireworks, as they are sold only during this one week in Germany, at insanely cheap prices. During the day on the 31st, they were non-stop, though mostly still in the residential areas. We got ourselves dolled up and went to a friend's house party, armed with our fireworks and champagne. Out in the streets just before midnight was like a war zone: smoke and broken glass everywhere, fireworks all over the place lighting up all the smoke. Having fireworks carelessly set off in any direction (though mostly up in the air) was terribly exciting at the time, look back at how one practically chased us inside the apartment complex and how one went under a taxi, it comes across as fairly dangerous now. Luke took a video of midnight in Berlin - have a look at his FB page to see it. Some photos:
The street was an absolute mess.
After the main street festivities, we got our things together and headed to the club - a complex of places that our one ticket gave us access to: about 15 clubs, each with several rooms....I think. Can't remember it all ahh, what a night, hindered only for a short time by the hiccups. Lots of dancing, drinks and great fun til 7 am. We did well, but not by Berlin standards. We spoke to people who'd been out until 1 pm, and some clubs were open for days on end. We almost went out again on Jan. 1 and would have if we didn't have to make a last effort at being tourists the following day. Might have to go back next year!
This is the debris left in the parking lot near the apartment the next day: