Off to Berlin in a different fashion, this time, by car. It’s around a 6-hour drive from Eindhoven unless, like us, you hit tremendous amounts of traffic. At least it gave Senna a period of rest before the Berlin marathon, which was the reason for our trip. Eventually arriving near Alexander Platz, we disembarked from our free family vehicle and proceeded to our Air BNB apartment. As it was almost midnight and our driver, Senna’s father, was tired from a strenuous journey, we stayed in the first night and swallowed a few beverages.
Starting early, our first experience of Berlin was the tram system. It costs 9 euros for a day multi stop ticket which, for a capital city, is rather cheap. The trams are frequent and fast, making for an easy and cheap way to see the city efficiently. We started with a visit to the old Russian air base, to sign in for the marathon, where they had made a kind of festival around the old bi plane with kite riders and beer cabins. Music pumped in the bright sunshine and I enjoyed a cold midday beer whilst waiting for Senna to register.
So, to the Berlin wall, covered in graffiti art and sporting an impressive outdoor museum about the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. Either side of the wall represents east and west, which you can clearly see in the different architecture. The solid and bland built east has quite an imposing feeling. The west is far more modern and feels a lot easier on the eye. The history surrounding this area pulsates through you with an air of appreciation and sorrow. It wasn’t as touristic as I had imagined, and you can easily wander down the wall taking in the different artwork at a leisurely pace.
Kreuzberg next, which is an area highly diversely influenced and interesting to walk through. This was my favorite place in Berlin. You could walk from restaurant to bar and then suddenly walk out into a park filled with life and picnickers. It also helped that the sun was shining all weekend. There are Turkish eateries everywhere and I think this culture has a huge presence in this area.
Berliner dom, the main cathedral in Berlin, has a walk to the rooftop to experience a 360-degree view of the city. You could easily spend a few hours here experiencing this, but down towards the end of the tour there is an area filled with caskets of past royalty and dignitaries. This area is a little creepy but also incredibly impressive. It has a strange atmosphere and is a little dark which creeped Senna out a little. We were running out of day time and ended up been ushered out of the building as it was closing. Thus, drinking time started for me, Senna had a marathon to run. Café Chagall, a lovely little place ran by an Italian man who plied me and Senna’s family with free bolognaise shots and beers, is set near our ‘old town apartment’ air BnB. Across the road is an outdoor rooftop bar area with planet like lights above your head and star like lights surrounding you and is open rather late on. Just me, Senna’s dad and brother left, we discuss politics and drink rapidly as Senna and Claudia retire to bed in order to rest for the big day ahead with Sven.
Marathon day and the anticipation from Senna is energetic. We walk the girls to the start line, which is bouncing with music and excitement, and they prepare for the arduous journey ahead. The amount of people is electrifying, and we wait until the girls set off for a few hours run. We descend straight upon the nearest bar to enjoy a few cold ones in the morning sunshine. The run takes around two hours and we go to the finish line to await their arrival. The finish line comprises of a main stage and followed by rows and rows of Erdinger beer huts, handing out cold beers for the runners. This, after such a demanding exercise, is rather astounding. I’m pretty sure it was the most refreshing beer Senna had ever consumed. She finished in style, although the surrounding smells were less than desirable. After much congratulation, we head back to the apartment for a shower and depart for the rest of the day. We see all the main attractions on a walk that takes you right by most of them and hit a few bars on the way as the girls feel like celebrating. Back to the tram and off to Alexander Platz once more, we eat and drink the entire night away in a very relaxed style.
Our final day consisted of a short trip around and to drop off Sven and Claudia at the airport. With a long trip home ahead of us I can’t help but look forward to the next time we can see Berlin, hopefully without as much preparation and relaxation as this time. I did not run the marathon, obviously, but I am incredibly proud that my Senna did, and she did it in style.