Someday, I’ll Be Back: Berlin, Part 3

“She wanted none of those days to end, and it was always with disappointment that she watched the darkness stride forward.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
 – Brandenburg Gate at sunset –
    We had a traditional Bavarian meal at a place called Augustiner. It was a lively, wide space, crammed with tables, but still cozy and authentic – with waitresses dressed in traditional Bavarian dresses, and old wooden tables and floors. The menu consisted of pretzels, sausages, beer, and beer again. Two of the girls in our group tried the curry-wurst, which is basically a giant sausage covered in a ketchup-curry sauce – quintessential Bavarian fare. And I had all the pretzels in the world and this interesting cheese thing with an entire garden of radishes on the side. I didn’t really know how to eat it (also it came with pats of butter but no bread?). It was confusing because the cheese was creamy, tasting a bit like cheddar, and molded into an ice-cream shape on the plate. I know I’m making it sound fairly unappetizing, but it was really good! Just a lot of cheese. And radishes? And butter. I just was not sure.
 – Augustiner! –
 – East Side Gallery –
 – Humboldt University, wandering some of the neighborhoods, Checkpoint Charlie –
   On Thursday night, we went on a pub crawl, and oh – it was so much fun! I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was just nice to not have to figure out places to go, if we could get in, etc. We went to three bars and two nightclubs; the first was called Yesterday Bar, and it was a throwback to the 60’s and 70’s. The décor was reminiscent of Mellow Mushroom in the States. Then we went to the bar Horns and Hooves, which had a Great Gatsby feel to it. The bartenders were dressed Roaring 20’s style – suspenders and bowties and flapper dresses. We also got to see a magic show in this tiny little room off to the side of the bar. Lots of card tricks and slight-of-hand, and I’m sure the dim lighting helped too. We ended the night in a dance club inside an old church. It was funny to enter the wide doors of the church and suddenly see a large dance floor with a disco ball above it. The pub crawl was led by two Berliners who knew each of the bars and clubs well, so it was nice to get a little bit of an “insiders” perspective as well. When they saw our group coming to the meeting point of the first bar, one of them said, “Oh no. Here come the Americans.” We got a lot of grief for that the whole night. But they were joking (or half-joking, actually. At the end, before we went into the last club, they thanked everybody there for the night, and then told our group that, “You guys weren’t so bad. For being Americans and all. Not too loud. Not too obnoxious. Nobody got lost.” Har har.)
 – The city that’s always under construction –
 – Street Art –
 – German Heart Institute, Graffiti on a street corner, Burrito stand at a Street Food Market (best Quesadilla!), columns at the Berlin Cathedral –
 – Vietnamese restaurant, art fair stall, book sale outside of Humboldt University, I want to read this next! –
   At one point, we asked one of the guides, “How would you describe Berlin? Do you have a favorite place to go here?”
      “Hmm. Good question,” he answered, smiling, and spinning his bottle of Club-Mate.** “Berlin is not Germany. Berlin is its own entity. You can’t think of Berlin as being distinctly German. I don’t have a favorite place here because you can’t just pick one. That’s asking too much. I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself.”
 – Reichstag building –
 – Hidden indoor street food market where we had our beer tasting! –
 – Sunset with the cathedral in the distance, one of my favorite paintings from the street art on Museum Island, one of the signature Berlin Bears! –
 – Outside the German Heart Institute –
 – Walking to Museum Island –
 – Ritter Sport Chocolate World! And one of the Berlin Bears outside a fragment of the Berlin Wall –
 – I wanted to keep this sunset in the sky for at least 4 hours longer –
** Club-Mate is a distinctly German drink, he told me, when I asked what he was drinking. It’s like the American equivalent of Red Bull – an energy tea-drink. “You’ll see a lot of people in Berlin carrying one around in their backpacks or messenger bags, sipping them on the commute into work, or before going out at night.”

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