Thursday, August 23, 2007

And it began...

It is already day 7 of our trip, and I have finally just set up this blog. To get a sense of our itinerary, we spent Friday morning through Tuesday morning in Berlin, then traveled to Prague by train and it is now 6:30pm local time on Thursday. This is our attempt at a photo journal of our trip:


This is us getting ready to face Berlin at our hotel. This is a blurb on our hotel that we wrote when we were much more ambitious about documenting our journey.

After an uneventful flight, preceded by a mad dash involving rugby workout type sprints to check a bag an hour before the flight, we arrived in Berlin around 9 am local time (GMT +1.00). Once through customs and bag pickup (first siting of German engineering here) which they do right at the gate in Berlin, we took a cab to our hotel. The cab was way overtippped as a way of saying thank you for not giving me the runaround, which can negatively color a whole trip if you take pride in your urban sophistication.

In Berlin, we are staying at the Radisson SAS which is a newer hotel (2-3 years old) splendidly well done. The rooms are small[1] but filled with nice design touches, the highlight being the bathroom door which is engineered in such a way that it can be used to seal off two nearly perpendicular doorways. The hotel is nicely situated along the Spree river and only about a 5 minute walk from Hackeschermarkt, a popular outdoor café and restaurant spot. The square/pavillion serves as a starting point for a walk north into a neighborhood similar to Soho in feel but with a maze of streets like the West Village. The streets are lined with galleries and other artsy shops with what appear to be upscale residences above. The majority of buildings had an older feel but with the clean lines one would expect from a German neighborhood. Modern condos with facades of glass and steel were woven into the mix nearly seamlessly with no building over four to five stories tall (the developers on the LES could learn a thing or two from this area.) Nearly every building we passed had a hidden, but accessible, courtyard, often home to a garden, a quiet café or pub, or just a couple of chairs for the employees of the neighboring art gallery to use during their afternoon smoke break.

For some pictures of the hotel, check out AH’s favorite site http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187323-d202459-Reviews-Radisson_SAS_Hotel_Berlin-Berlin.html

Getting coffee/espresso at the Berlin equivalent of Starbucks “Balzac” to help us cope with our jet lag…




Some sights around our hotel - TV Tower and soccer world cup bear (I overheard a guide saying there were 400 of these in Berlin)

Even the facades of the buildings in northern Mitte are very similar to Soho only without the fire stairs Soho is so famous for. In fact, even the genesis of the areas is analagous, poor artists in Soho and squatters in Mitte, followed by gentrification.

Again, one thing that separates Mitte from Soho is its open courtyards and abundance of playgrounds….


I took this picture of a traffic cop because she annoyed me just like the ones in the US do.

We walked around Sophienstrasse and Gipstrasse and back down Rosa-Luxembourgstrasse. They were quite deserted, much as Soho is after the tourists go home for the day.

Here’s us playing with the camera in our first of many beirgarten photoshoots. This one was under the train tracks on Rosa-Luxembourgstrasse.

We split a salad too. Haha, got to love the first days of vacation when you still hold out hope of potentially eating healthy on the trip.

After our walk around Mitte and visit to the biergarten, we were exhausted and went back to the hotel for a nap. Here are some pics of the lobby. Unfortunately we did what we too often do and slept until 11pm which left us no choice but to sprint down to the hotel restaurant for some asian noodles (shame).


After dinner, we went out for a few drinks at a bar next to the biergarten we had been at earlier in the day, called Riva. Here we stumbled upon some great mixology and I found a new drink for myself called a Stinger, Hennessy VS, Crème de Menthe White. (After the asian noodles, I definitely needed a digestif) We also got a kick out of how the menus have sections on them called “High Alcohol Drinks” and “Low Alcohol Drinks.” Why anyone would ever order from the latter is beyond me.

1 comment:

maya camille winters said...

Laura,

I just scantily read your blog with every intention of returning, after I lecture this morning, to fully absorb your perspective. It appears that you had an eventful and enriching voyage. “Overkill” looks tremendously cool.
-love,
maya

*I just had time to glance at your photos but they are appealing as well…we will talk.