Somehow, I’d had the presence of mind to set my alarm for 10.30, previous experience informing me that getting out of bed was always difficult the morning after the night before. And breakfast was served until 11am so needed to top up energy. It was rather nice – I had cornflakes, pumpkin bread with a deli selection and lashings of apple juice and espresso. Alas the boiled eggs and bacon were finished but it was a great selection nonetheless. Continental wins over full English every time, I don’t care what you say.
After willing my rather reluctant legs in motion, the scene was set for my only full day in Berlin. As yesterday was shopping and some of the sights, I thought I’d repeat rather than just do a full day of sights. As I recalled from somewhat sketchy information, the Germans hold the Sabbath a bit holier than we Brits so shopping opportunities would be a bit more limited. Legs still groaning in protest, I went to Alexanderplatz again as I thought that I’d go and visit the DDR museum and I wanted to walk down the opposite street to get there, stopping by the giant statues of Marx and Engels first.
The DDR museum was great, recent history with a great deal of primary material to work with. The exhibits were interactive so there was a lot more than just gawping at stuff whilst the gift shop was packed full of souvenirs which I had a hard time resisting. Ditto the street vendors outside actually. I wanted a soviet cap and a Stasi scarf. All for March 2nd, of course. Also in abundance outside the museum were sharks offering three card monte and the ball game. Had to applaud their crassness.
After the museum, I walked around a bit more before slowly heading towards Kreuzberg. The canal seemed a nice walk so I followed it past the Technikmueseum (twice – went the wrong way) and ended up exactly where I wanted to be on Mehringdam. There were two points of interest for me – die Schwulemuseum (not open on a Sunday, much to my annoyance) and the Boiler Sauna.
Again, the Germans really can teach the Brits to run a sauna properly. It beats Pleasuredrome and Chariots into a cocked hat. Though the same amount of negative attitude was there exuded on behalf of snootier patrons. Then again, there was a larger social aspect to the sauna, plenty of people were chatting to each other – someone even inflated a condom and played balloon ball with it. There was only one steam room – a steam maze actually, one sauna, one solarium and one jacuzzi with a large cabin area though it was much more impressive, cleaner and practical (no bloody tiling).
I hung around for a couple of hours and left around 5 though noticed the queue was almost around the block. Hadn’t eaten by this point and seriously considered the English restaurant across the road (East London Cafe) which offered a menu not too dissimilar to the Vauxhall Griffin. Resisted, bought a snack from some random Imbiss stand and then began to walk aimlessly towards Mitte. Stopped off at Starbucks again for some more free wifi and a vague plan of what to do in the evening. I had clocked that there was an Austrian restaurant with the unlikely name of Sissi down the road from Zsa Zsa so thought I might try my luck.
One of the things that puts me off about restaurants is when the staff look bored, particularly if they are empty. There are always glasses to clean or cutlery to polish but walking past Sissi deterred my patronage. Had a general walk around the area, taking mental notes of all the businesses, observing the sheer number of fetishwear shops and other businesses flying a discreet flag. Eventually hunger got the best of me and decided on a whim to go to a Spanish restaurant.
I’m glad I did – had garlic and egg soup (wonderful) with half a loaf of freshly cut bread and a vegetarian paella as a main. No desert though, too full for that. Service was a little slow but the food was exquisite and well worth a look. If only I could remember its name – Que? Que Pasa? Something like that on Fuggerstrasse.
Alas, by the time I had done eating, fatigue had caught up with me after all, I’d been up for 24 hours the day before with only 3 hours and five hours of sleep snatched. Rather than wait for the Sunday sessions to begin, my bed called and I answered, skulking back toward East Berlin. It felt shameful to turn in at 9.30 so I watched a little YouTube once I had worked out how to access the hotels wifi (arranged by floor) and passed out around an hour later.