My first experience of Berlin left me in shock – having got off the plane, I was met by something I thought was alien to Germany: inefficiency.
Airport Wi-Fi wasn’t working (fortunately Telekom had a nearby hotspot) and then the Berlin Pass (travel card, discounts, etc) could only be claimed by using a printout of your voucher, rather than the PDF on my email confirmation. Thus followed much faffing with a turn of the century coin-operated public computer before I was on my way via a glorious double-decker train.
Arriving in Alexanderplatz, I hooked up to a Cloud hotspot (which annoy the hell out for me at home when they always try to connect, but here they’ll be vital) and meandered towards the hotel, passing the TV Tower and one of the city’s numerous churches – they are certainly keen on Christianity in Germany. I’m not, but I appreciate the history and this one also gave me the opportunity to sign a book of condolence for the victims of the recent truck attack in the city.
Just in case that’s getting a bit too serious, St Mary’s is also home of a particularly magnificent organ. It’s massive and you can see a bloke play with it a couple of times a week.
Having checked into the hotel and admired the six-storey fish tank in reception and the sheer amount of twinks of Grindr, I consulted TripAdvisor for somewhere to eat and ended up at the nearby Kantine Deluxe.
In many respects, it’s like a culinary Argos – you order using an iPad, get a notification when your stuff is ready and go up to one of the service points to pick it up.
Decent value grub too – there’s not much by way of choice, but there are some dishes that they call Berlin specialities. Potato and sausage soup, followed by a rich goulash and sweet potato mash, with red berry jelly (try saying that quickly) and vanilla sauce to end. Throw in a couple of cokes and it worked out at a little over £18.
Finally, it was back to the hotel to try the spa and it’s probably best left until later in the day when it’s quieter, as it’s not massive. The pool was a bit nippy, so I stayed in the steam room and sauna, obeying the German dress code. That didn’t go down well with one clearly British woman in her swimming cossie who stormed out when I sat down – bet she voted for Brexit.
So that’s my first taste of Berlin – a full day tomorrow to get involved with many more of the sights.