Sunday, June 05, 2011

Berlin Platzenplatz

Last few days E@L has been in Berlin with a friend from HK/Singapore who is currently staying in Lubeck on an extended assignment. There was holiday in Deutschland on Thursday so he came down on the train for a catch up as he is chronically bored in Lubeck with only a few native English speakers in the company and only so many Aussie TV series you can download through iTunes. Neither of us are particularly atherletic, more artheritic, but we did walking tours until the need for beer overcame us. This was relatively soon and relatively often. As the hotel is in a more austere shopping part of Berlin, Charlottenburg, we did not find much to do here, except a small chill bar around the corner called Gecco - aptly enough for those of us from those sultry equatorial climes where the little lizards are endemic.

(*Aside: the toilet walls in this bar are done with tiles running obliquely, a Cabinet of Dr Caligari look to them, and sure enough, from the perspective of sitting on the dunny, the door seems to be falling away from you - woah, spooky, mystic, weird - and there is nothing you can tell yourself that will allow your brain to overcome this effect, it is really disconcerting, and no E@L was not drunk at that time.)

E@L's partner in misdemeanor has a plethora of friends and family around the world, and he contacted an ex-Berlinischer who recommended a few bars and restaurants around Alexanderplatz and few other platzes. The best platz for wandering between food and drink we thought, was somewhere near Prenzlauer (I've lost, amongst other things, the email with exact address [how can you delete so COMPLETELY an email that it is no longer even in the trash bin, and accomplish this disappearing trick just by putting your phone back into your pocket?]) platz, an area with wide footpaths, lots of lindens to be unter, Italian restaurants, bars for University-types, bars with 80's music, very relaxing, very cool, very holidayish, but with a *hint* of decadence. It would be, we decided, the place to stay if we ever had to move to Berlin, which is not ever going to happen.


So with, our matching (white) Berlin tourist caps, we walked through the Tiergarten, we photographed Gold Lizzy, -

and E@L had a piss. We walked down to the Brandenburg Gate. We had beers at small place there and E@L had a piss. We Tour-Bussed it to Checkpoint Charlie and E@L had a piss in the "museum there.

E@L's phone was by then dead (camera is on the desk at home, as mentioned in prior post) and so he is relying on his buddy to post photos of this part of the trip, which included the last remaining part of The Wall.

Is there a toilet here somewhere?


Associated Incidents of Interest (but which would require a lengthy blog post each on their own) on this Berlin leg of the trip:

Missed and pay for next one: flight from Barcelona to Berlin.

Lost and found in the laundry basket: one watch.

Missing: several hours on Friday night.

Misplaced and found under the side table: one folder of flight and hotel information.

Sat upon then bent back into an almost acceptable shape that holds the lens in for a few minutes: one brand new pair of $350 prescription sunglasses.

Not E@L's size: a pair very comfortable shoes, damn.

Confused then sorted: taxi directions to either the Stasi prison (Hohenshönburg) and the Nazi concentration camp (Sachsenhausen).

Scary and depressing and evoking a deep misanthropy: see above.

Perfect: a new man-bag that the Xoom fits into nicely.

Fracking sore: two pair of feet (E@L's and buddy's).

Very funny: the tour guide on the open-topped tourist bus (yes, as mentioned, we gave up on the walking soon enough).

Admired: the tall, gorgeous, blue-eyed girls, so many of these Aryans beauties, so attractive I just want to selectively breed with them - either that or just fuck them.

Scarred for life: the top of E@L's head where he tried to take down the steel bars of the tour bus's retracted sun/rain shelter (he blames the peak of his white Berlin tourist hat for blocking his vision of this as he came up the stairs).

Uncertain: the address of the hotel in Split that Izzy's bf has organized, and once again E@L has lost the email (resolved by the Split taxi driver calling the apartment).


Of course the walk around the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was sobering in the extreme. What is it about our understanding of ourselves, the enlightenment and the progress of civilization, what did we miss in this alleged growth that allowed us to misinterpret the long chain of events that led to this Nazi situation, and not just in Germany, that allowed our (self-denied) complicity in such a death machine, and for us to not have seen it coming. Well, there was our acceptance of the pseudo-science of eugenics and the self-serving, profit-motivated design and implementation of technology, such as IBM's punch-card machines, the research of chemical companies... We just keep telling ourselves we're not as bad as history tells we really are, because hey, back then people were savages. Evil is banal, as it always as been no matter which country gets caught out in its bloodthirsty banality... (Belgians in the Congo, short memory, Americans in Abu Ghraib, must have a, Russians in the Gulag, sho-or-ort memory). Savages, all noble in our suits and ties.


When we read about, hear about, see people do terrible things, we claim that they are being "inhuman". But what it really amounts to is that they are being quintessentially "human".


Now E@L has farewelled his buddy to the Hauptbänhhof for his train back to Lubeck and is waiting for his flight to Split at an Irish Pub in Schoenenfeld . They are everywhere, those bloody Irish. He is looking forward to some time with Izzy and her part-time video director boyfriend, plus Izzy's little sister. E@L will have 12 days enjoying the sun and clear waters of the islands on the Dalmation coast, then reaching Dubrovnik. Maybe he'll get some time to report on this later**...


** Am in Split now typing the rest of this, putting in some more typos and where we are is amazing, gorgeous. We are staying, I kid you not, in a part of Emperor Diocletian's 4th century palace - the part with air-con. Photos and more blogging to come.

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