We left Prague early Thursday morning and took the train to Berlin. This time we did have first class accomodations and enjoyed a comfortable compartment that we had all to ourselves. What a contrast between the Prague and Berlin train stations! Berlin's new main station is a bright and beautiful place (see pic below) whereas the Prague station was too dark to take a picture. We took a taxi to pick up the keys to our apartment and settled into our Berlin quarters. That evening we explored the local area and had dinner at a restaurant on the Hackescher Markt, not far from our apartment.
The next morning, Arno's childhood friends met us at the apartment and took us on an enjoyable excursion of some of the city's main attractions. We utilized the city's excellent public transportation and our day pass allowed us to get off the train or bus, explore different attractions, and then get on the next train and go on. Our Berlin hosts treated us to a wonderful meal in the "Tiergarten". In the evening, we retreated to the Kuerschner Boys home for more food, drink and lots of laughs. It's been 14 years since Arno has seen his friends and there was much to catch up on.
On Saturday morning, we met again at the most famous of all Berlin landmarks, Arno's birthplace. It has changed a little since that time. The area looked nice and the apartment house was newly renovated. The district of Kreuzberg is now mainly inhabited by people of Turkish origin and they have their own ethnic restaurants and shops. We ate dinner in a very nice Indian restaurant, and toured the district on foot exploring some of the places that Arno remembered as a little boy. The city has changed a lot. On the plus side, much has been renovated and improved and the public transportation is second to none. There are negatives as well... Forget about "German Cleanliness". There is graffiti everywhere, and litter lines many of the streets.
Sunday is our last day in Berlin and in Europe. Since we did so much walking in the previous days, we decided to slow things down and take a leisurely trip down Berlin's River Spree and the canals. That turned out to be a good choice. We saw a good deal more of the city and from yet another perspective.
We head back to the USA early Monday morning.
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