With a walking tour ahead, a nutritious breakfast seemed as a good idea. A mixture of regular cereals with some chocolate crunchy ones seemed to make the job. Unfortunately, it was not a night of great sleep and for this reason I decided to have my first cup of coffee while in Germany. It was unbelievably strong and bitter. I swear I do not have coffee at this place any more – even though I should fall asleep right on the underground rails if not having one.
We took S-Bahn (city train) to get to the very downtown of Berlin, determined to start our self-guided tour at the Brandenburger Tor (Gate). To be honest, we followed a tour recommended by Rick Steves, a guy who seems to be my US Grandpa’s guru for travels of any kind. From the Gate we were supposed to go down the street (actually, more like a boulevard) of the name of Unter den Linden. There was some confusion about where to go as we searched for the trees. Finally, we found our way. It led right along a small souvenir shops which had some T-shirts on display. My Grandpa was very strongly convinced I needed one. I think I did quite a good job in choosing the best T-shirt they had though I struggled with the size choice a bit. Later on, it emerged I probably got the most expensive one in the whole Berlin. So, now, I am doubtful if I can actually wear it or if I should put it on display.
What complicated the walk a bit were barriers, tens of Port-A-Potties and mess from the great party welcoming the soccer world champions yesterday. Nevertheless, we made it the whole way down to the column called Siegessäule (Berlin Victory Column) and consulted its origin and meaning with Rick Steves though we probably did not follow his suggested route at all..
Afterwards, we returned back to the Gate and continued down the main street, in the right direction finally. It was a very neat walk as we could admire numerous very old buildings, including those of Humboldt Universität. Another memorable moment on the way down to the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) was a stop at the “guy carrying his own kitchen”, in other words a Currywurst seller. The wurst (sasuage) was rather long and looked kinda funny as it was squeezed in a bun reaching about a third of its length. Though the Fernsehturm rose high above most of other buildings, we still managed to pass it without being aware of our fault. Once it was rectified, we had a short break almost right under the tower -some even had a scoop of ice cream- and from there walked for a little bit more to check the Berlin’s Rotes Rathaus, the town hall made out of red bricks. It was only a short walk and it was definitely worth it.
Except for seeing (and in my case, taking pictures of) all the beautiful buildings, once more we got a proof of massive construction work going on in the Germany’s capital. Scaffolding and canvases hiding the majestic buildings as well as huge pink, occasionally also blue, pipes going over the ground were nearly omnipresent. I understood that most of the construction work other than regular building maintenance, including the pipes, is due to extending the subway network.
The highlight of the day was meant to be the visit of Berlin’s famous department store, KaDeWe. The store’s name is actually an abbreviation of Kaufhaus des Westes, which means “store of the West”. The store extends on six floors, each of them specializing on a certain area: from cosmetics, to clothing, toys and school stuff, to food. The food department can be found on the most upper floor and walking there was truly an unforgettable experience. Literally anything was on display there: many and many kinds of tea and coffee, pastry and cakes that looked just gorgeous and I would not be able to pick a single one to try, also foreign stuff such as Thai food and spices were present and I should not forget about enormous selection of meat – including some ridiculously tiny poultry – and fish and seafood. The latter one I could actually smell before seeing it.
For the supper, the Greek restaurant located at Ku’damm got its chance today. As regards the English-friendliness, they had English menus but the guy from the yesterday’s pizza place was doing significantly better in spoken English. Nevertheless, the waiters were very nice and we were able to pick some food for ourselves. It was called Schweinelachs and we had absolutely no idea what that would be though the waiter said something about pork chops. A beer a week is more than enough for me, therefore I went for a soft drink today. Traubennektar (grape juice) looked interesting to me, so I gave it a try. Initially, its taste seemed to be too sweet to me but I got used to it shortly and liked it since than. Except for the drink, the very first thing that showed up on the table was two shots. At that point we got seriously unsure of what we had really ordered. The content of the shots was called Ouzo and was an anise-flavored Greek aperitif. Though it was rather strong for me and my first impression about it was “cough drops” I liked its taste after all. This Greek alcoholic surprise was followed by a very nice salad of mixed vegetables. Though I enjoyed the salad very much, it also gave me a reason to worry if I have any chance to finish what I actually order. My worries happened to be real only minutes later. It was a huge portion of food and truly a challenge for me. I liked the grilled meat very much and fully concentrated my effort on that one. It was served with a big amount of vegetables. I liked that idea very much, however, the choice of vegetables was not really spectacular: some broccoli and whole bunch of eggplant and zucchini, in other words, pretty much the same what was on pizza yesterday. Even today, we continued with our grading policy and the meal was given the grade of B for “it could be very well an American meal.”
The very last task of the day was an attempt to plan our last few hours in the capital of Germany we would have left tomorrow. Though we got some choices, it did not really work out as we fell asleep sooner than any decision was made. At the end of the second day in the city, I felt pretty comfortable in buying tickets for city trains as well as subway and think I did a not so bad job in choosing the connection for us and getting oriented at the various stations we have been to over the course of our short stay. Though I enjoyed seeing the sites much more tour of the department store, the trip to the store was not a waste of time. Number one it as interesting and number two, I got some idea for what to spend my money when I am awfully rich one day.