I flew from Copenhagen to Berlin this morning and now I’m sitting on the deck of a boat watching the sunset on the Spree River with the Oberbaum bridge in front of me and remnants of the Berlin Wall a few meters to my left. It seems a bit surreal to be here and the rocking of the boat combined with the cold Becks are making me sleepy. Perhaps this is all a dream and I really don’t have a pair of beautiful blond Norwegian roommates both named Ingrid. What’s the odds? But real or dream who cares! I’m going to just focus on being in the moment and if I wake and find myself back in the corn fields of Indiana so be it.
It is said you should travel to a new country without expectations or preconceived ideas – but lets be real. I expected Berlin with its three million plus inhabitants to be crowded and rushed. Boy was I wrong. I have not found the trains, streets or even the tourist areas excessively crowded and Berlin gets more tourist then Rome. Why? Perhaps because 40% of the city is green space and there are still many undeveloped lots in the city. Also, based on a survey released two weeks ago it has about a million less people then in the 1930’s. So it was actually built to accommodate a much larger population. The wide boulevards built for the four million people in the 1930’s can now accommodate the numerous bike lanes and cars nicely. Because of all these reasons I have actually found Berlin to have a more relaxed feel than Copenhagen. Admittedly this is not a scientific study and your experience may vary. I would gladly go back to either city to do more research and if you would like to send money to further my study of these issues feel free.
… In the background a sax is softly playing. The tune sounds like something that may have been popular when Hitler lived here. But the soft sax is being drowned out by the calls of birds and so it should since this is a park, the Tier Garten . It’s a calming, large central green space that has a zoo, bike paths, canals, boat rentals, cafes, etc. I stopped to listen to the birds and rehydrate with a Konig Ludwig Weiisbier. Despite the drinking age in Germany being only 16 I have seen fewer drunks on the streets of Berlin than I have in many smaller US cities and none of them have been teenagers. Even my young European bunkmates that dance until the sun comes up seem to drink fairly responsibly.
Roommates at 55 years old. The idea of sleeping in a room with 6 to 10 young people was a little concerning prior to my departure but the idea of sleeping in a private hotel room sounded painfully boring. I have enjoyed communal living in the past so I decided to give it a go again. Based on three hostels in three countries with rooms varying in size from 6 to 10 beds the experience has been great! I have not lost a minute of sleep due to the arrangement and the interactions and advice I have received from my youthful roommates have made my trip more enjoyable.
Tomorrow my bus leaves at 0930 for Prague. What will Prague be like? How will the recent record flooding affect my visit? The tourist bureau say’s, “Don’t worry. The old town is fine, the public transit is back to normal and the Charles Bridge is open again.” Well I’ll learn the answers to all those questions tomorrow and also see if the tourist bureau spun their report a little sunnier than justified. I’ll let you know what I learn in my next post and thanks for stopping by.