The day could’ve started better – for some reason, a gaggle of shrieking children started running about at half past midnight, and such was my level of seething, I wasn’t able to sleep soundly all night. That or the hard bed, but I blame the former.
I was able to get up at a decent hour, although because the hotel room actually has a charging point next to the bed – mind-blowing stuff – I lay around for a bit before heading west to the Olympiastadion, where sightseeing would begin in both earnest and freezing conditions.
The wind really blows over the Olympic Park as the area is almost completely open, with most structures left over from the 1936 Games dug into the ground so nothing could distract from the magnificence of the main stadium. If there’s one thing the Nazis excelled at, it was spectacle.
I opted for the multimedia guide, which comes in the form of an oldish Samsung hung around your neck, although most of the stuff it told you also featured on the information boards too. It does help you pace your trip out, mind.
One of the complex’s noticeable features is how pock-marked it is from war, but it got away lightly compared to Charlotteburg Palace, where most of the areas you can go around inform you of their destruction (to varying extents) in 1943, before rebuilding. Couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty.
Having checked out the grounds, I headed to The Story of Berlin, which has interactive exhibits covering 800 years of history, although I’ll be honest, I rushed the first 700 to get onto the last century, where it gets juicy.
Once you get through the Weimar Republic and Third Reich, there’s still 50 years to go and that was summed up by the final ‘exhibit’ – an actual nuclear bunker under a car park that is still able to house 3,600 people for a fortnight if someone’s tiny hands hit the red button and sends us all into a nuclear winter.
Having rushed about all day, I’d kinda forgotten to eat, so I plumped for Padre e Figlio, for tuna and onion pizza, tiramisu and coffee – not planning on kissing anyone, so it’s all good.
Ordering Italian food in Germany is a minefield though – Alberto the waiter spoke about 5 different languages while I was there, so how do you react? Is it wunderbar or bellissimo? Danke or grazie? Annoyingly, I kept panicking and defaulting to lovely and thanks. Damn my small British brain.
Before my complimentary grappa, Alberto waxed lyrical (in perfect English, naturally) about the joys of living in Berlin, and even after just a couple of days, I can certainly see what he means.