We woke to our last full day in Berlin… WAHHHHH!!!
We started the day with our usual delicious brekkie at the Arco. I’m not eating much this a.m.; stomach still upset from too much schnitzel-indulgence last night!
After breakfast I captured a few random shots of the Arco Hotel for posterity:
It was a cloudy, windy, wet and cold morning, but the weather was supposed to brighten up later. Undaunted, we headed out to the KaDeWe department store, of which we’d heard so much about. KaDeWe (which stands for Kaufhaus Des Westens and is pronounced kah-day-vay) is the biggest upmarket department store in Continental Europe so we guessed we’d be in for an interesting time even if we didn’t buy anything. We went through all of the floors, bypassing floors of haute couture and Jimmy Choo shoes. I bought some KaDeWe-brand Sour Cherry jam, hoping that the glass jar would survive the long journey home (it did). What an amazing place; the food hall is very much like Harrod’s in London; there’s nothing you can’t get!:
After leaving the KaDeWe we went to the Europa Center (a building complex hosting the World Fountain), near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the Breitscheidplatz. We took several pictures of this plaza and the World Fountain, then rested for a bit:
Leaving the Breitscheidplatz we went to the souvenir shop I Love Berlin and bought a few things for our peeps back home.
We stopped for lunch at the Maredo restaurant (yes, again, but it *is* reliable), then went on to Brunos near Nollendorfplatz to check things out (nothing like browsing the world’s largest gay shop to perk up a dull day).
After getting an eyeful at Brunos, we hopped the U-Bahn to Stadtmitte station to visit the amazing chocolate store Fassbender & Rausch (self-billed as “The World’s Largest Chocolate House”) at Charlottenstrasse 60, Gendarmenmarkt. WOW! – words fail me at the site of this store. Imagine massive models of the Titanic and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church made entirely of chocolate; this is the scale of things here. Needless to say, we bought a good amount of chocolate for ourselves and others back home (but mostly for ourselves):
Leaving Fassbender & Rausch behind (which wasn’t easy), we headed over to the Gendarmenmarkt. We spent a good amount of time here, admiring the German and French churches in the square:
While admiring the churches, I photo-bombed a wedding photo shoot that was taking place:
While in the Gendarmenmarkt, we also declined a nice German girl’s offer to meet masses of others at the steps of the German church for a 4:30 “flash mob”, which would be photographed and posted to Facebook.
As we were resting and enjoying the square with its beautiful churches, we were unexpectedly treated to some type of anti-abortion-demonstration-gay rights-march thing which seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t quite grasp what the focus of the demonstration was but got a shot of it regardless:
We wandered around the square a little more, then decided it was time to leave as we’d been there quite a long while. We made our way over to Checkpoint Charlie, took some pictures and observed the history/information boards. So many Americans here! (can’t think why):
It was getting late in the afternoon, so we wandered back to the Gendarmenmarkt area to find a restaurant. We didn’t have much luck as this was a very upscale area with restaurants being very pricey (think Michelin Star-type dining). After much deliberation we ended up at La Strada del Sagrantino, an Italian restaurant at Behenstrasse 47. The quality of the food was excellent, but it was the quantity that was the problem – there was almost no food on the plate! Our meal consisted of six microscopic pieces of ravioli on each of our plates, accompanied by two minuscule pieces of bread which the server would NOT replenish. None of this is exaggeration. Outrageously expensive and terrible value for money. To top it off, they did not except credit of any kind except for a Maestro Card (which is a European debit card) – what North American would carry one of those anyway!? Vince had to use the last of his Euro to pay the bill. To be fair, though, this was a wine bar, so obviously providing hungry tourists with a hearty meal is not their main objective.
We finished this meal feeling VERY unsatisfied – and just plain hungry – and made our way up the Unter den Linden. Here we walked down this famous avenue (Berlin’s so-called Champs-Élysées), stopping to view the Humbold University…
… then crossing the street to Bebelplatz, home of the famous May 10, 1933 Nazi book burning extravaganza where over 20,000 books were destroyed:
In the ground of Bebelplatz, there is a memorial by Micha Ullman entitled Empty Library. It consists of a glass plate set into the cobbles that gives a view of a group of empty bookcases large enough to hold all 20,000 burned books; its purpose is to commemorate the book burning:
On the other side of the Empty Library is a plaque containing a line by Heinrich Heine from his play, Almansor (1821). Engraved on this plaque set into the square are the words:
Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen (That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people).
The evening’s earlier ”meal” left us hungry still, especially Vince so, leaving Bebelplatz, we tried to find another restaurant on Unter den Linden, but no luck (after much walking). We finally wound up at the Block House restaurant on Wilhelmstrasse where we had had lunch on Tuesday afternoon. How wonderful to finally score a proper meal! Delicious.
It was getting late at this point so we hopped the U-Bahn back to the Arco Hotel. We stopped in the hotel’s Reception upon our return and paid the hotel bill (€668.35 for seven nights, including all taxes and seven breakfasts – not a bad deal). Returning to our room we rested a bit then, with a heavy heart, started packing for the trip home tomorrow. Soon time to go back!
It had been a long day: we had walked a great distance and were suffering from trip fatigue, so it was off to bed early. Big day tomorrow!