West of the Wall
Sightseeing in Berlin (Thu 8-Jun-17 and Sat 10-Jun-2017)
Weather: 14⁰C min – 20⁰C max, cloudy
“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.” ~ Lance Armstrong
The 4hr 20 min ICE train trip from Bamberg to Berlin passed quickly enough, whiling away the time just watching the green countryside, countless wind farms, and lovely towns flashing by.
Germany is an amazing country for cyclists, with good quality paths carving through wheat fields, vineyards, forests, alongside rivers and train lines, and beside every street. Oddly, there were only 12 bicycle spaces provided on the Ice train, which is why I had to catch the 8:09 am train instead of the 10:09 am originally planned.
Catching the earlier train meant I had time to kill before checking into my AirBNB, so while on the train I devised an 11 Km Garmin bike route from Berlin HBF that would wind around some of Berlin’s major attractions, including Alexanderplatz, Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie . My route took me through a good cross-section of Berlin, a few grimy pockets as well as the more touristy parts. Like Sydney some parts of Berlin are a work in progress at the moment, so much construction work going on.
I was circling around looking for signs pointing to Checkpoint Charlie when I stopped to ask a young lady. When I asked whether she spoke English she replied that she was from Perth, then pointed to a small building not much bigger than a toll booth in the middle of the street. She shrugged and admitted she didn’t know what all the fuss was about either. All around the area there were Checkpoint Charlie museums, Checkpoint Charlie cafes, even a Checkpoint Charlie curry shop … anything to capture the tourist dollar (or Euro) I suppose. The significance of Checkpoint Charlie hit me later when I realised I had just ridden from East to West across where the Berlin Wall had once been.
Berlin has so much interesting history that I am looking forward to delving into over the next couple of days. But my first history lesson will probably be in Potsdam tomorrow if the weather turns out as good for cycling as the forecast suggest.
My Garmin GPS took me right to the door of my AirBNB, where I was greeted by a very amiable, hospitable and extremely helpful host, Klaus. He served my cups of tea and chocolates while giving me valuable guidance to Berlin. With the help of Klaus I created an interesting 12 Km cycle route that included the following points of interest:
- Bergmannstraße, a very attractive street full of interesting bars, cafés and restaurants.
- A café in a Friedhof (cemetery) called Strauss Café.
- Marheineke Markthalle, where I stopped for an early evening meal. Needing to eat some vegetables after all the good German bread and pastry goods I have been eating, I settled for a healthy Asian stir-fry.
- Viktoriapark, where I climbed up the hill and steps to the monument.
- Tempelhofer Feld, which until 2008 was Berlin Tempelhof Airport and has now been turned into a massive recreational area. Riding along the runway was sensational … I have never ridden on a smoother or wider bikepath!
It is amazing how much sightseeing you can pack into one afternoon when you are on a bicycle. I think I am going to enjoy my short stay in Berlin.