Sunday, August 21, 2011

Funf Bier bitte schnell, danke.

Just in time to shoot this pic!

Excuses for the delay. See, I'm a temporarily crippled programmer now. Allow me to explain.

Two weeks ago we came back from our little vacation in Germany's Capital city: Curry Gewürz, I mean Berlin. No, leave the Bratwurst and Heidi Jokes in the trunk. The image of big bellied, mustached beer drinking champs with lederhosen and a hat+feather is a bit false. At least here in Berlin. Which is a shame by the way, but more about that later. Berlin is a modern, big city with modern citizens. Did we really expect something else then? No of course not. Yet Berlin is quite different when comparing it, for example, to our Dutch cities such as Amsterdam or our beloved Breda.

Right after leaving the Haupt Bahnhoff (Central Station), the first things you'll notice are the colossal structures. Berlin doesn't have a lot of highrise like American cities do, yet it's filled with massive blocks and monuments, placed asides the wide roads(no gigantic traffic jams here!). Many of them looking threatening, imposing. Maybe once fulfilling a dark task, in the DDR or WOII era.

Needless to say, Berlin has quite a history. Varying from the Iron Curtain that separated the liberated Western from the communistic world, to the last days of Hitler during the WOII. Speaking of which, it just happened to be that our hotel was placed right on top of Hitler's Bunker. Yep, the site you'll see in the (great) movie "Der Untergang". Don't expect much of it though. The Russian took quite some effort to remove the bunker. Hitler's "grave" is nothing more than a parking lot between a couple of calm buildings nowadays. Only a sign will remind you what happened here. We found this out while playing Red Alert (with the Stalin cutscenes yes), and wondered why there were so many people outside, standing near that sign. Wait a minute… yep, we were playing war games on the grave of one of world’s most infamous leaders.

Soviet war Monument.

Nothing to see here, move along. Our apartment was just outside the picture in the left upper corner. The other picture is not Hitler's bunker btw, it's our Radar Station testing map. We're starting to get some objects to decorate the place with.

Berlin makes you think about war, and the more recent DDR era that forced its people into the socialist ideology with instruments like the Stasi. The remains of this history are spread throughout the city, giving a grim look over some parts. But of course, there is more than oppression and bloodshed; Berlin didn't stood still last decades. An excellent subway system, Modern office buildings are placed between the old Stasi offices, hip restaurants pretty much everywhere. Unlike some ex-communistic cities I saw in Poland, Berlin looks fresh, clean and structured. Certainly not as if the KGB is still watching there. Although I didn't like Checkpoint Charlie. A few sandbags, American flags, two actors, and... a fucking macDonalds 4 meters further. The ultimate price of a Western society.

You can still see and visit many remains, including the Wall and the evil looking Reichstag building. Yet, just like with Auswitz Birkenau, it's hard to get a good feeling of what really happened. Time erases the past. Then again, did you really think 5 guys would visit Berlin for history lessons? I can dream operation Blitzkrieg and Barbarossa after seeing 6.000 documentaries already. No, what healthy Dutch boys really want is beer. Lots of it.

Meet modern Berlin. As a friend would say, this looks like an IPad3 or something.

And that's where we got stuck a bit. Instead of 130 KG feather-hat, mustached lederhosen guys sitting at a table with roasted pork and beer, we only saw modern, cozy(not) purple LED-light bars. Music volume -4, only a few people, closed pretty early... Aye, that's not what are used to. In Amsterdam, you can get drunk in 60 seconds as soon as you arrive in the center. In Berlin, you need a sniffing-dog specialed in tracing beer, because this large city doesn't really have all stuff concentrated at one central point. The bars are sure out there, but spread or well hidden. And in most cases, not really alive. Although I liked the fact that Berlin people are calm and friendly, the noise of 600 drunken people and the feeling you can get involved in a barfight any time, "engages" here in Holland. In Berlin, I often had the idea that we noisy, farting, burping, belging, laughing idiots were annoying for other people who try to have a calm conversation. But I also had that feeling in France. And in Belgium. And a bit in Prague...

Well, making noise, trying to get drunk, and waking up 06:30 on the floor with a flower bouquete in my underpants (yes, that happened) is maybe just a Dutch thing... And British probably. I'm sure there is a lot more to find in Berlin, just have to dig a little bit deeper. Other than that, we had a good time. And a nice bonus feature is the price. Whether you need beer or a Rumpsteak at a restaurant, Berlin is cheap compared to other Western Europe cities. Same goes for the hotel.

And... Friday actually delivered what we want when it comes to lederhosen, beer and schlager (and Rammstein): Berlin's international Beer-festival! Dozens of beer stalls, tables, music, and würst. Hurray! With as a grand finale a broken foot. Drunk and satisfied, we went home and waited in the Metro station. I felt down somehow, and hurted my foot badly. My friends had to transport 95 kg of drunken flesh through the wide streets of Berlin. Luckily it happened on the very last night, but a few days later it turned out that my metatarsals were broken at 3 or 4 spots. End result: I’m driving in a wheelchair with a laptop between the harvesting and tabletting machines like Stephen Hawking now. Except that Stephen is not so stupid to drink and break his foot probably.

Yeah keep laughin, but not for long anymore. Not everyone likes to wear Lederhosen by the way.

Next time, back on games

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