24 Jun 2014

Europe 2014: Day 4 - Berlin

Today started with a bit of a lie-in which was disturbed by the housekeeper despite the ‘do not disturb’ hanger on the door handle. For some reason the Wi-Fi wasn’t working in our room, but it was working in the hotel lobby. That’s two for two in Germany, one of the most developed countries in the world—what’s going on?

We had breakfast at a little bakery just over the road from the hotel—filled rolls and milky coffee, yum! And it cost something silly like €6 for everything.

We extracted the bike from the underground car park and did a bit of a bike tour of the main Berlin sights. In retrospect it would have been more efficient to walk—Berlin’s traffic isn’t bad, but the lights are very poorly timed (green for about 20 second then red for 3 minutes) so it is an exercise in patience. Nevertheless we persevered—including accidentally following a police van into a tram station which required a u-turn and a hasty escape.

The Brandenburg Gate where east met west in the old Germany.

Even the enormous R1200GS is dwarfed by the stunning Berlin Cathedral.
Photoshop’s questionable attempt at piecing together my photos of the church.

The Berlin television tower as Zev watches on.

Zev inspects Vivienne Westwood’s Berlin branch.
Berlin has an incredible botanic garden—Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem—and naturally Zev wanted to have a look. We arrived about 5:30pm, coincidentally during ‘happy hour’ where the entry fee is halved to €3. Bonus!

I was having trouble deciphering the parking regulations so I stopped at Riller & Schnauck BMW Motorrad which is just next door to the entrance of the botanical gardens to ask advice. They explained that if you park a bike on the road you need to pay but it’s difficult as there is no way to secure the stub. But you can park on the pavement (aka sidewalk for my North American friends) for free as long as there is 2 metres of space between the bike and the roadway.

However, the chap to whom I spoke suggested that I simply park among the other bikes at the dealership which was very kind as it was a far more secure location than the roadway (safety in numbers). So a special thank you and mention of this dealership!

The gardens are incredible—according to their website they have 22,000 plant species covering an area of 43 hectares. Once inside, the plants block out all the noise of the city—the environment is so calm and soothing, it’s understandable why so many Berliners spent time there.

Trails run through everywhere you look and there are no ‘keep of the grass’ signs anywhere—you are encouraged to get up close to all the plants, such a refreshing find in an over-regulated world.

Entering the botanical gardens.

One of many ponds.

This one’s for you, Leslie—a blue heron cools its feet in a pond.

The rose area.

An space to relax after miles of garden trails. 

Who says there’s no time to stop and smell the roses?

More roses.

A rather unique root system.

Like one of the many lakes in Jasper Park, Canada—but in the middle of Berlin. 


What I would imagine Vincent Van Gough would create for his garden.

Ever get the feeling that some giant leaves are ready to feast on you?

The otherworldly greenhouses—built long, long ago.

Random find: Just in case you bugger up your brolly—a special umbrella recycling bin.

Plants from the Brazilian rainforest.

A little slice of Arizona in Berlin.

This little chap was eyeing us up as we exited the greenhouses.


Sunflowers supported by a sandwich board

While the botanical gardens were amazing, unlike this chap I didn’t prance through them while ripping off my loin cloth... 
Props where props are due—a photo of my bike nestled among the others at the dealership...

A big thank you to Philip Lange at Berlin’s BMW Motorrad dealership for allowing us to park while we toured the botanical gardens!
Afterwards we returned to our hotel to freshen up and then headed out for dinner. Berlin is not what you would call a beautiful city, but it is a welcoming place with a charm of its own with wide, tree-lined roads and functional architecture.

Looking east from the hotel entrance.
Well creepy window display.
Looking west on Bülowstraße towards U Nollendorfplatz station.

My friend Esa from Helsinki had just been in Berlin and suggested we try out Zsa Zsa Burger (Motzstraße 28, 10777 Berlin-Schöneberg) and we were not disappointed—definitely worth a visit!

Zev attacks a pint.
A bit more Berlin randomness—for all your sex dungeon refurb needs.
After dinner we walked back to the hotel, stopping off at a 24-hour supermarket to pick up some snacks for the journey to Prague. Still no working wi-fi (getting slightly annoyed by this now).

Europe 2014 quick links

Day 1: London to Sint-Gillis-Waas
Day 2: Sint-Gillis-Waas to Bad Driburg
Day 3: Bad Driburg to Berlin
Day 4: Berlin
Day 5: Berlin to Prague
Day 6: Prague
Day 7: Prague to Wemding
Day 8: Wemding to Ammerschwihr
Day 9: Ammerschwihr
Day 10: Ammerschwihr
Day 11: Ammerschwihr to Eschdorf
Day 12: Eschdorf to London