On Friday, November 11th, I caught the early morning red-eye to Berlin and arrived at 6:35 am. I found the bus and made my way down to Bec’s apartment. It’s really easy to get to. Bec was still home when I arrived but I was expecting her to be heading out for work. She surprised me when she told me she had taken the day off. We took the train over to Charlottenburg and visited the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche which has been left in its bombed out stated since WWII as a reminder of the destruction. We also went into the new modern church just next door and had a look around. We then walked over to the department store Kaufhaus des Westens, or KaDeWe, as it’s more commonly known, and waited with the eager shoppers for the front gate to open at 10:00 am (apparently a long time Berlin tradition). We had a nice breakfast and wandered through the store starting to think a little about Christmas.
Back at Bec’s, I had a little nap while we waited for our friend’s Nadia and Rene to arrive. They had taken the week off of work in AD and had spent the last few days in Munich. They arrived at Bec’s apartment around 6:00 pm and soon got settled. November 11 is a religious observance in Germany known as St. Martin’s Day and Bec had made reservations for a traditional St. Martin’s Day goose dinner at the nearby Restaurant Alvis. It was delicious but we all left quite full.
The next morning, we set out from the apartment after a light breakfast. We crossed the River Spree to Brandenburg Gate, over to the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and down to the Mall of Berlin. We did a little shopping in the SportScheck and also found some Christmas cards. From there, we headed over to the Potsdamer Platz Winter Market and had some glühwein, käse krainers, bratwurst, pretzels, and potatoes. After our delicious lunch, we walked over to see a remaining section of the Berlin Wall and had a coffee at Checkpoint Charlie. On the way back to the apartment, we picked up the ingredients for cheese fondue. This was a nice treat as fondue was a Christmas tradition for the 4 of us back in Abu Dhabi. We also played a few games of crib…a first for Nadia and Rene.
We had an egg breakfast the next morning before I caught the bus back to the airport. Rene and Nadia still had one more night in Berlin so Bec took them over to Museum Island in the morning and then they went back to the Winter Market for more bratwurst and gluhwein. They visited the Spy Museum and then walked over to the Reichstag, home of German parliament. That evening, they had a traditional German meal of currywurst and schnitzel at the Berliner Republik. The next morning Rene and Nadia flew back to Abu Dhabi. It was great to see Bec set up in her beautiful apartment and have Nadia and Rene there as well. I was looking forward to my upcoming week-long trip back in 2 weeks time.