Thursday 10 May 2012

Hallo aus Berlin!

Who else would you expect to see by the Brandenburg Gate, if not Darth Vader? This is Berlin, and we're part of a permanently seething horde of tourists again, not stand-out foreigners as we were in Zagan. It's kind of a shame: it was quite a novelty being in a real town with real people, who didn't speak English and were slightly startled that we would think they might. There they were, just getting on with their everyday lives, while here of course they are too, but so outnumbered on the streets by wandering tourists of all nationalities that they're the ones who stand out, in their business suits.

Tourists aren't an edifying lot, by and large: chattering away and not paying attention, and cluttering the place up, whether they're the young ones in shrieking, brightly-coloured groups or the older couples in special matching, quasi-military travel clothes. We do bring money, though, and Berlin is as focused as anywhere else on extracting it, whether it's Segway tours along Unter den Linden, bronze soldiers to pose with under the Gate or bicycles built for six to hold up the traffic on.

There's a lot to see here, of the grand and impressive sort, as well as tackier stuff, but today was taken up mostly with house-keeping, returning from Zagan, getting the hire car back to the Hauptbahnhof (a mission, a veritable mission, and all praise to the sat-nav), and finding our hotel again - but we did manage time for some gawping at the vast food hall at the Ka-De-We department store, with more cured meat than you could shake a stick at, and smelly cheeses, and beautiful shiny fruit tarts, as lovely as in any French patisserie, and amazing fish, and displays indicating a predilection for chocolate-coated marzipan that I could entirely identify with. Tomorrow, more travelling - tonight, we luxuriate in a vast bed with separate duvets as light as air, which we will appreciate after the last two nights in a former German military hospital in Zagan, which was as luxurious as it sounds...

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