Thursday, 20 August 2015

Berlin day three

It’s not going to be as hot as yesterday. Somehow it’s going to hotter than midsummer Sahara. A skin-melting 39º C. Lovely.

Yesterday Alexei noticed that there’s a second breakfast room. Worried on possibly missing out on some goodies, he suggests we dine there today.

I follow him to the fried and congealed section of the buffet. In addition to yesterday’s grease, they’ve also little Nürnberger sausages. I pile a few pairs on my plate next to some scrambled egg. Breakfast like a brickie, lunch like lady, dine like a dinosaur. Isn’t that what they say? Something about getting your serious eating done early in the day.

“Daad, . . . .

It’s started already. Lexie asked 3 million questions yesterday. Literally. I counted them. More than 3 million. 3,119,327 to be precise. Looks like he plans on setting a new record.

At least his questions distract me from the wasp first buzzing around my breakfast, then my face. I fucking hate wasps. They put the willies up me.

Today is our total tourist time. First we have to work out our route into town. Dolores and Andrew discuss at length various tram/S-Bahn combination routes. While I keep an eye on the bloody wasp.

Dolores has developed a deep dislike of Warschauer Strasse S-Bahn station. Instead we start our journey on an M 10 tram. Having spotted machines inside trams Dolores suggest: “We can get our tickets on the tram.”

Yes, you can buy a ticket on board. If you have enough coins to pay for it. No notes and no cards. Daring a short ticketless ride, we continue to Frankfurter Tor, where we change to the U-Bahn. And buy tickets. Exciting stuff.

We change again at Alexanderplatz, which seems to have become a beer garden and street food place. We only take the tram one stop. But anything to avoid walking in the damn heat. We’re headed to the DDR museum, which is just over the river from the Dom.

“I don’t remember this being here in the 1980’s.” I quip pathetically. “They should make you queue up for an hour or two while people in cheap polyester uniforms scowl at you over submachine guns. An authentic DDR welcome.” Dolores ignores me, as usual.

The museum is packed. So packed that the air conditioning can’t keep pace. Lexie finds a cool spot under an airco vent and stands there for a while as the crowd flows around him. I do something similar and for a few moments forget what a hot, sweaty lump I am.

It’s a bit weird seeing everyday objects in a museum. I recognise lots of the stuff. An F6 fag packet. Who would have thought that would end up on a display shelf? But I’m most surprised by the hen egg cups. We’ve some of those in our kitchen cupboard. Didn’t realise I was dining from a museum exhibit.

We come across one of the ticket machines they used to have in Berlin trams. Dolores explains to the kids how you could put any amount in and you'd still get a ticket out. Buttons even. Which I can remember doing. A Dutch couple is listening in. Assuming we can't understand Dutch, they pass comments. Thankfully nothing too insulting. Or I'd have to headbut them. Chav's code.

Alexei pulls me over to an interactive exhibit. He pushes a big red button and a mushroom cloud appears on the screen. “Cool.” He says. Where did he get his fascination with nuclear weapons?

On the way out we pick up a few things in the shop. I get a 1960’s map of East Berlin. It’s a replacement, really. I used to have a very similar one I picked up in the 1980’s. It’s wonderful because West Berlin, the odd major road excepted, is completely blank.

Next is lunch. I’ve already got a location planned: Weihenstepahner on Häckesches Markt. It’s a short walk away, which is definitely preferable in this heat. And it ticks all our requirement boxes: non-geeky beer for Andrew and Dolores, sausages for Lexie and  . . . what’s in it for me? The warm glow of knowing I’ve chosen a pub selflessly. That and Dunkles and Weisswurst.

We sit outside like everyone else. Inside is deserted, except for the occasional waitress passing through and a bloke behind the bar. It’s even hotter than earlier and yesterday. Really unpleasantly hot, especially in the sun. Which is why I’m surprised at the number of Schweinehaxe floating by. I like one as much as the next man, but not in this heat. Instead I, perhaps subconsciously, pick something I associate with cold weather: a christmasy pair of Weisswurst. As do Andrew and Alexei.

Andrew’s stomach is playing up again. He orders a Jägermeister to help settle it.

“My stomach doesn’t feel quite right either. Maybe I . . . . “

Dolores gives me a look. One of those looks. Clearly I’m not going to get away with this one and should stop now. Before more damage is done.

“Oh look, they’ve got draught Vitus.”

“What’s that, Ronald?”

“A Weizenbock. It’s really nice.”  And also pretty strong.

As I’m getting stuck into it, a man walks past shouting loudly at no-one in particular. And quite aggressively. I’m not surprised someone’s cracked in the heat. The shock is more that there aren’t rampaging mobs.

“Daad, what happened to Trotsky?”

“Stalin had him murdered.”

“That can’t be true. Stalin was too nice to do that.”

Andrew almost chokes on his sausage when he hears that. Then explains some of Stalin’s less attractive character traits.

We’ve the German Historical Museum pencilled in for this afternoon. I hope it’s properly air conditioned.

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