Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Berlin - first visit and Checkpoint Charlie

We arrived in Berlin in the late afternoon. One unusual sight I noticed was the colourful pipes found in some part of the city and later I learned that these are the water pipes brought above ground since there are a lot of construction work around the city and this will avoid unnecessary disruption to the water supply in case of pipe damage during the work. Talk of German efficiency.

This time we were lucky as the hotel is in town and is pretty new and modern. This is the Abba Berlin at Lietzenburgerst street, a short walk to the main shopping street of Kurfurstendamm, or Ku'damm for short. Also there is a supermarket nearby to stock up your mineral water and snacks and an underground U-station (Uhlandstr) not too far away.

We were ready for out excursion after a rest at the hotel, this was the optional dinner at Ziko's Grill in town. The atmosphere at the restaurant is fun with music and singing and most of us opted for the pork knuckles as the main course. The portion is big but I did not find it that tasty since we are probably spoilt by out roast pork back home. Anyway, it was an enjoyable evening out.

Since it was still bright after dinner, we had an informal bonus tour of Berlin. (The official guided tour will be in the next morning.) The fist stop was at the Reichstag, the home of the German parliament and then a short walk to the Brandenburg Gate. Along the way, there are simple memorials for those who died while trying to cross the Berlin Wall as this street was once divided by the Berlin Wall.

The last stop was at Checkpoint Charlie before we drove back to the hotel for a good night's rest. These photos of two young soldiers (one US and the other Soviet) must be some of the most recognisable faces in the world, surely some of the most photographed. I wonder where they are now.

Ronald Kwok

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