Göttingen, Berlin, and Düsseldorf!

After our Oktoberfest experience, Marcus, Prashna, and I headed for Göttingen. After several hours driving on the autobahn, the dashboard GPS navigation system told us we had arrived and our friend Julian found us and showed us to the free accommodation he had kindly arranged for us. First warm shower in 3 days for me; first warm shower in over 6 weeks for Prashna! (I know what that feels like, having spent 3 months in Cameroon showering in painfully cold mountain water every morning).

Julian was another exchange student at the University of Otago in New Zealand when I was there in 2005, and he lived in a flat about 5 metres away from ours. It had been nearly 3 years since any of us had seen him, and we had a great time hanging out with him and his friends and attending a solid international students party that evening. We even took a “crazy faces” photo. Julian, the one sitting beside me, wins for best crazy face:

We couldn’t stay long in Göttingen, though. On Friday afternoon we took off again, this time headed to the capital and most populous city in Germany, Berlin. Marcus’s friend Fabian generously hosted us at his flat, and took us to see a concert that evening in the nifty Kreuzberg area of the city, at a place called Festsaal Kreuzberg (I think that means Kreuzberg party room). We watched Senore Matze Rossi open the show, and the main act was Rocky Votolato. It was a nice, chill concert, and I got to practice my Swedish a bit with a Swedish exchange student.

At the U-bahn (subway) station, Marcus paid 10 eurocents to find out his weight from a fancy old machine: 76.5kg.

As we walked back to the house along the river, we were warned about upside down anchors:

The next day Prashna, Marcus, and I walked around Berlin and did touristy things. This is a really neat piece of art outside the Hauptbahnhof (main train station):

There are lots of boats taking tourists and such along the river. I wonder which rum is this shipowner’s favourite?

Neat statues on a bridge:

The Reichstag (German parliament) says “To the German people”

And of course it has a number of German flags up on the roof:

We walked over to the Brandenburg Gate of course. Lots of tourists. Not sure why, it’s really not that impressive and the history behind it isn’t particularly interesting either. Some guy just built it because the King wanted him to. Meh.

We then headed to the Holocaust memorial (officially the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) which is quite interesting. The visitor centre is underground, and the entrance is not visible if you come from the wrong side, so walk around if you don’t find it.

It didn’t teach me anything we didn’t already learn in history classes and by reading the occasional article on WWII, but it was well organised and definitely had lots of information and is worth a visit (it’s also FREE). It’s good to see so many people interested in history, but I do wonder what percentage of those visitors knows or cares about more recent mass murders, like Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, East Timor under Indonesia from the 70s until the 90s, a number of preventable/treatable famines in Africa, the Rwanda genocide, the former Yugoslavia, Darfur, etc. We see those things occasionally on the news, but the memorials are smaller and get much less attention from the wider world. Is it just a matter of convenience, since this memorial is in a very touristy city in a very peaceful and developed country, or is partly that people don’t care to learn or know about the rest of the world?

We saw a section of the Berlin Wall that still stands. Again, very touristy, not very exciting, but unlike the Brandenburg Gate (which is much older), this one at least has some interesting history. It still seems strange to me that only two decades ago this wall was still a real division between the Communists and non-Communists.

We reckoned it was time to see an old church, but as we walked in that direction we encountered a minor obstacle: the Berlin Marathon was the next day, but this day they were holding the mini-marathon for school children! I love kids, but I think even I was a bit afraid of the sheer number of children running full speed down the street. Trip three kids and there’d be a massive pile-up I reckon. We were fortunate enough to be next to a U-bahn station, so we went down into the station, walked along for a minute, and came back up to ground level on the other side of the s
treet. Problem solved.

Someone left this ~$150,000 Ferrari 360 unattended, but it seems to be behaving.

Some museum (German History maybe?) had this statue of some warriors on it:

“Give me the bird and I’ll return your trousers!”
“No, get your own bird, this one’s mine!”

One of the towers of the Berliner Dom, with the Television Tower in the background:

Berliner Dom (considered by some to have been the Protestant counterweight to St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican).

Saturday evening we had to take Prashna to the train station so she could get to Pisa for her internship there, so we took two quick photos before we left. Normal photo:

Crazy face (Marcus wins this one) photo:

A quick stop at the petrol station:

After returning to the flat, Marcus and I decided to find some nightlife (we didn’t find much, because we didn’t know where to look really) and so we consulted the map. Marcus used a postcard of the U-bahn map to figure out where we were going on the real map.

On Sunday the two of us set off for Düsseldorf, where Marcus lives and works at the moment. Along the road, typical sights:

Monday morning Marcus was off to work, and I had a few hours to wander around town before getting myself to the airport, so I took my camera and started off walking. This is Düsseldorf’s television tower. They really like these things in Germany it seems…

Fancy buildings:

As you can see, I walked a fair distance along the river, as this is the same tower:

And on the other side of the river, in the middle of a decent-sized city? Sheep.

In the afternoon I dropped Marcus’s keys in his mailbox, walked to the train station, and after two train rides I was at the Köln-Bonn Airport, ready to fly back to Sweden. Our flight was over 20 minutes late even though no one ever told us we were late, and as a result I would have missed the once-hourly train home, BUT for the first time in my life the train was more than 1 minute late – it was 5 minutes late! So I barely caught it, then barely caught my bus in Uppsala, and happily moved back into my flat to start working properly on thesis stuff.

Some of these posts are too long methinks.