Mission To Berlin

My girlfriend and I love the Lord Of The Rings movies, as you probably noticed by our visit to Hobbiton and the Lord Of The Rings Tour that we did when we were in new Zealand.

We’ve also been enjoying the Hobbit movies, and have been to see them all at the cinema whenever they came out. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to go see the last one when I was over at Christmas, and now that I’m back again Leipzig (where my girlfriend moved to a few months ago) no longer has it showing anywhere in English (you often get original language movies showing in German cinemas). So, what to do, what to do? Why, go to Berlin and see it of course!

That was how we found ourselves on a coach at 10am heading for the capital. The movie wasn’t til 5pm, but we planned on checking out a few sights as well while we were there. The only other time I’ve been to Berlin before was during a DB train strike, when I had to get a coach there and three buses across the city to catch my flight home. I missed out on all (indeed, any) of the sights then, so I felt like I had some catching up to do!

We got there around noon, went to grab the tickets, and then set off in search of something interesting. In fact we’d just got back onto Potsdamer Platz when we came across The Berlin Wall!

the wall at potsdamer platz

Obviously not the original wall, but parts of it set out along the old route of the wall as a sort of exhibition.

where the wall once was

If you look you can see a line on the ground going from the wall section up towards the top left corner behind the orange bin, which denotes where the wall used to go.

There’s even a map showing you where it used to be.

east and west

Strange to think how the Berlin Wall came down because of a bit of a misunderstanding, eh?

We were going to head to Checkpoint Charlie next but found that the Brandenburg Gate was nearer, so we headed there instead.

the brandenburg gate

As ‘gates’ go it’s pretty impressive. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to revive my Landmark Inversions headstand series, which has been a bit lacking of late.

Thankfully I had my trusted camerawoman along with me. Always ready to help out (and freeze her fingers off in the cold weather!). We just did a quick test shot to get the framing right,

headstand test shot

and then up I went for number 74.

74. brandenburg gate headstand

Round the corner from the Brandenburg Gate is the German parliament, the Reichstag.

the reichstag building

It’s quite a building as well, though Lena was far more excited to find some ‘west German’ and ‘east German’ traffic lights right next to each other, so that she could finally show me the difference between the two (east in front, west in back).

stop and go

By now it was getting really cold, so we hit the Underground rather than walk all the way back to go see Checkpoint Charlie.

lost?

There’s actually not lot there when you arrive. Lots of ‘museums’ and ‘experiences’, lots of places called things like ‘Checkpoint Charlie Curry’, as well as places selling Russian and American army hats. But the actual checkpoint itself is just a little nondescript hut in the middle of the road.

checkpoint charlie, looking into 'east' berlin

There’s also a sign warning you you’re “Leaving The American Sector” (as if you wouldn’t notice the armed guards!).

leaving america

Strangely, the other side doesn’t say you are ‘Leaving The Russian Sector’ but ‘Entering The American Sector’. Have a think on that for a moment if you will.

entering america

For me it was time for another headstand photo, and this is the only one where I have explicitly paid to be allowed to take it (I’ve paid to get in places but any photos I’ve taken within have always been free).

75. checkpoint charlie headstand

It’s also the only one where I’ve gotten a small round of applause from the twenty or so people who suddenly gathered there while I was standing on my head, so all in all I don’t begrudge the two euros it cost me.

By now we were getting hungry, so off we went on our burger mission!

I’d found a place on Happy Cow called Sun Day Burgers, which promised a tofu burger with lots of healthy stuff to go with it.

sun day burger

They only sell the tofu burger, smoothies, and raw cakes, so there wasn’t much choice. We both went for the burger with chilli sauce (as I personally didn’t like the sound of the peanut or mango sauces). When it came it looked very tasty.

sun day tofu burger

Sadly the chilli sauce was so hot that after a few bites that’s all you could taste. I tried washing it down with my smoothie, but it had so much ginger in, it was overpowering as well! Perhaps we are both too sensitive to strong flavours these days, since we eat so healthily all the time, but we both found it a bit much.

We had some cake afterwards (which wasn’t cheap!); a raw pineapple cheesecake and a lime and avocado concotion,

raw pineapple and lime cake

but they too were a but heavy on the flavouring as well. All told it was quite an experience!

We like fries with our burgers, and since they didn’t have any at Sun Day Burgers we came away a bit hungry still. Thankfully, just round the corner was salvation!

chips!

Boy did they taste good. 🙂

happy belly

Our bellies finally full it’s off to the movies we go.

cine star, sony centre, berlin

The Cine Star in the Sony Centre to be precise. One of the last places to be showing…

der hobbit, in english

(“Der Hobbit”, in English)

It’s been out long enough you’ve probably seen it by now, but for the next paragraph I’m saying:

*SPOILER ALERT*

We enjoyed the movie, but it was a little long, and definitely not enough dragon. The whole Smaug bit at the start should have come at the end of the second film. They obviously only tacked it on here to make us go watch this one. Without it it’s just a lot of dwarves, elves and orcs (and humans) going at each other hammer and tongs. I mean, don’t get me wrong, enjoyable enough, but still no justification for stretching one small book into three long movies.

*ALERT OVER*

All in all it was a very successful trip. We saw a lot, did a lot of new things, and got the photos to prove it. Last LOTR movie seen, a new burger tried, and two new headstand pictures created. Fell asleep on the train on the way home, which is always the sign of a good day I reckon.

All told I think it’s safe to say,

Mission To Berlin : Accomplished

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