The last few weeks were spent jaunting around town with Dave's sister Sarah, followed by Sam and Heather from Toronto as well. Soaking up the city, taking advantage of the benefits of not working by working on our own projects (more patterns up at http://gallery.me.com/ohcolleen), enjoying the sun and food and trying to not be sad that it was almost over.
We finally ventured into Tiergarten and upon entrance, wished we hadn't waited so long. It's a massive park in the middle of the city and it's beautiful! It was green on green on green, and there were lakes in the park, often surrounded by lilac bushes so it was just the most picturesque scenery ever. It was so lovely.
On our final Saturday, we went on an epic bikeride and ended up in Friedrichshain, which is somewhere we'd be interested in staying if we decide to do another stint in Berlin. It was kind of mind boggling to me when we first got into the neighbourhood... everything was on a such a massive scale and just made you feel really small. The main street, Karl-Marx-Allee is a monumental socialist boulevard built by the GDR between 1952 and 1960 and is like 90m wide... huge. And the architecture was totally crazy. Apparently the huge buidings were built after the war and were coined 'workers' palaces' and were supposed to be large luxurious apartments for working class people. But to me, they just looked really minimal and huge and very Soviet. There are still some statues of workers at the entrances to the buildings. A very cool neighbourhood though, despite how intimidating I'm making it sound.
We went to Berlin Templehof, a Nazi-built airport that has halted operations as of a few years ago. It was a crucial airport during the Berlin Airlift, when soviet authorities halted all traffic to West Berlin by land and water. So the only way to get Berliners the supplies they needed was to fly them in, into this airport. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) And now, the airport itself is used for events and things, and the runway areas surrounding it is used as parkland. You walk into the area and all you can smell is barbecue, and the place is packed with people bbq'ing, chilling out, riding bikes, partying. It was really awesome against a totally bizarre backdrop. It struck me that this probably wouldn't happen in Canada.
We went into a Humana, which is Berlin's answer to the goodwill and in keeping with the neighbourhood, it was the grandest thrift store I have ever been in. It was incredible. It was six floors of stuff, united by a spiral staircase and still had it's original lighting fixtures and hand-drawn signs. Amazing place.
Our last few days in Berlin were sombre ones. Tried to keep our spirits up but it was really hard to fathom leaving such an amazing place. But we made the most of it, and stayed out till the wee hours of the morning on our final Saturday night and it was light out when we got home the next morning. And when we left the bars were still packed. Truly the city that never sleeps.
The next day we went to Mauerpark where I reluctantly sold the bike I had come to love and hung out for the last time.
Had some final meals that we had to have just one more time, including german fare the Prater Biergarten (one of our favourite places to hang out), burgers at The Bird (amaaaaaazing) and some Wiener Schnitzel at the Schnitzelei.
And then it was time to go. We flew to London, stayed in a cheap hotel, and flew home the next day. Apparently just missing Iceland's take two on the volcanic ash disaster. And now the adjustment to home begins...
:::::::::::::: SEE MY FINAL BERLIN PICTURES HERE ::::::::::::::