Today was a little disheartening. I decided to visit Kreuzberg and Prenzlauerberg, two regions of Berlin I was excited to check out. They'd been described to me as having a Newtown/Glebe sort of vibe. Instead, they had a Redfern sort of vibe. Gross. I actually felt a little unsafe in Prenzlauerberg. Admittedly, it's Monday, and things shut down in Europe on Sundays and Mondays. I'll be going back to one or both of them tomorrow, as the two best English bookshops in town are located there. So let's hope it's a little better. On the other hand, it was kind of like seeing a friend or lover pick their nose and not being too grossed out: I still love this city, no matter its faults.
I went on a day trip to Potsdam (did I mention this?) where the Prussian kings had their summer retreat. I never knew what was meant by the term "Prussia", but now I do. Learning on holidays rules! I also went to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which was a template for the later concentration camps. They carried out earlier gas chamber experiments there. The Nazis sure loved their grim irony: the first group of women to be gassed (with mustard gas, instead of the later Zyklon B) had previously been on a work detail making gas masks for the war effort. While on the subjects of horrible irony and Zyklon B, a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin is coated with some kind of anti-graffitti substance. Turns out that the company that provided the substance supplied the Nazis with Zyklon B way back when. Interesting and depressing.
I went out for a night to Magnet Club, which was weird and fun. I got there at nearly midnight, and the place was dead. It didn't pick up until about two o'clock. I guess that's what happens when you have daylight until ten o'clock. The club night was called Pop Pourri, and the music was uhmayzing. Nearly every song, I knew or loved. So I danced by myself (seriously, no one else on the dance floor) and chatted with a Swiss couple and a Japanese guy. Typical: I spend a week in Germany and don't meet a single German. Actually, that's a lie, there was a German girl in my first Berlin hostel room, who was lovely.
I'm in a new hostel now, which rules. I'm about a twenty minute walk from the Reichstag (which was awe-inspiring, and totally worth the one hour wait) and it's a four-bed room in a well-maintained art nouveau apartment. The bathroom is enormous (a welcome change from the shower cubicles at the last hostel, which weren't big enough to stretch my arms out in) and really quiet. My first night there, I had the room to myself, as my roommates were out for the whole night. Shit yeah!
I wandered around to a few museums, and treated myself to lunch at a tacky Australian restaurant. I went to German restaurants in Australia so often that I thought I should see what the inverse is like. It was funny reading the menu - it was all "chook" instead of "chicken" - and it was good to have some kangaroo. Although I got a Foster's, and remembered why I don't drink it back home. It's like making love in a canoe. (You know the rest.)
Tomorrow, I will try to give my poor feet a break (seriously, five of my toes have blisters - I have never walked so much in my life) and chill out in the Tiergarten. Then I'm catching an early morning train to Warsaw, where I will stay for three days before heading to Krakow for three days. After that, Prague, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Aarhus. After that, I might go to Hanover, Munich and Paris, or save them for another time and head to London to prepare myself for the winter - don't want to get caught out like the metaphorical grasshopper.