Time for the next thrilling instalment in my occasional series “What I Did on My Honeymoon”!
From Amsterdam we headed straight for Berlin, where I’d been once on a school trip, when it was still the largest building site in Europe, and where Lottie had never been before. Before we left the Netherlands, we booked three nights at a place called Down Town Bingo using Laterooms. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the accommodation (a room in a flat rather than a hotel), we didn’t get an immediate confirmation, and by the time we got on the train in Amsterdam, we still hadn’t heard back. No matter: I managed to find what appeared to be the address on Google Maps, crossed my fingers, and set off.
After a very pleasant 400-mile train trip, we got to Berlin on the evening of 23 June, when Germany were playing Ghana in the world cup. The Hauptbahnhof was correspondingly full of the noise of vuvuzelas. This didn’t help create an aura of relaxation; what’s more, a trip to an internet café revealed that our accommodation still wasn’t confirmed. Tired and hungry, with heavy rucksacks, we decided to go and find this place. Armed only with the map of Berlin provided in the Lonely Planet guide to Europe, we finally found our way to what turned out to be a very long street, with us at the wrong end of it. What’s more, the number of the building we were looking for appeared not to exist, and we didn’t even have the number of the flat. Coming to look for the place all started to look a bit like a very bad idea.
It was not, however. We were just at the point of giving up when I spied what appeared to be the right building on the corner of a side street. This explained the odd numbering. But which flat? I looked feverishly at the numbers next to the buzzers, before spotting a name I recognised from Laterooms. I buzzed and waited. We were let in by an elderly woman. I explained in German, sure that this wasn’t the place, that we’d thought this was a guesthouse, but must be mistaken. She replied that this was the right place, and that it was owned by her granddaughter, to whom she put us on the phone.
To cut a long story short: her granddaughter, Yvonne, was fantastic. Laterooms had messed up and not been in touch with her, and unfortunately the room was available for only two nights, not three. But, she announced, she had another whole apartment elsewhere in the city, which we could have to ourselves for both the second and third night for the same price as the room in this one. Not only that, but she’d drive us over there herself. So we got three nights in Berlin, in very nice accommodation, for only €150. We can’t recommend this enough.
So what did we do while we were there? Sights, museums, and parks, basically, plus a couple of bars. We recommend the Jewish Museum very highly indeed. Checkpoint Charlie is also good, though I’d been there before. The Klo bar, a kind of toilet theme bar, where the DJ makes fun of customers as they come in, and where you can buy beers served in specimen jars, was kind of fun, but somehow less interesting than I’d imagined. In general, we felt that, of all the places we went, we only scratched the surface of Berlin, and would really like to go back and scratch a little deeper.
Three days after arriving, we set off for Prague, via Dresden.
But before that, I got to eat a big sausage.