Berlin – first steps

The first full day in Berlin started with a logic puzzle, which, if I were looking for stereotypes, I would have expected in Germany.

To operate the shower, there were three dials pointing to six o’clock. The puzzle was to work out the times to set the dials so that the water would come out of the overhead showerhead at the right temperature. The solution was to set the dials to 3.45, 3.45 and 7.04 for a perfect shower.

Once cleansed, we went to find a cafe for breakfast near our hotel on Potsdamer Straße. We were spoilt for choice. There were several offering vegan and normal breakfasts. The one we ended up in was Cafe Tietz & Cie – an organic cafe. I had a filling veg platter.

From there, it was a walk through the backstreets heading towards Checkpoint Charlie. On the way we passed a departure point from which many Jews had been shipped out of Berlin.

Checkpoint Charlie got its name from the NATA phonetic alphabet. Germany, which had been divided between the UK, USA, France and USSR, had areas designated Checkpoint A (alpha), Checkpoint B (bravo) and Checkpoint C (charlie). Now it was a popular tourist destination, overly commercialised with a mock checkpoint to give visitors a flavour of what it was like with a guard happily interacting with tourists.

More interesting was a makeshift exhibition giving some background to the checkpoint and a part of the Berlin wall, which had been transported to the checkpoint. There were various versions of the checkpoint – each harder to ascend as the East Germans learnt more about wall technology.

After visiting DDR Museum, we went to a synagogue and passed what looked like a Jewish quarter before settling for a currywurst and chips in Curry One. A currywurst, I learnt, is a sausage (bratwurst) covered in spices. I tasted cumin, coriander, pepper and paprika.

On our way back to the hotel, we popped into the largest shopping mall in Germany: the Mall of Berlin.

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