Archive for September 2005

Prague and Berlin

After many days in a row spent with my cousins, and we being the way we are, fatigue had begun to set in. My arrival in Prague also marked my first visit to a city that I had already been to before. Those two factors combined to limit almost all activity to within a ten minute walk from our hotel. Fortunately, we were staying at the Hotel Central, appropriately named for being a two minute walk from the Old Town Square. Chris looking excited to be there


A couple of minute walk to the famous Wenceslas Square, where David met a new friend


And David with his new Bratislavan lady friend on a typical street


Red Hot & Blues – great breakfast, decent bands at night, good beer on tap, and 20 seconds from our hotel. We were regulars. Marquis de Sade, cool dive bar about 40 seconds from our hotel, great music, we were also regulars there. One thing that I have noticed both times now in Prague, it seems that the majority of the people there are English or American. Czechs are literally in the minority, which was a stark contrast to a lot of the places that I had visited so far.

At any rate, three days there came and went in an instant, I said goodbye to Chris and David as they were off to London before heading back to DC, Eliska headed back to Bratislava, and I hopped on a train for a four hour ride to Berlin. Upon arrival in Berlin, I booked myself into the fairly luxurious Swissotel, and slept for about 24 hours, awaking only for housekeeping and room service.

Recharged and ready to get outside, I soon discovered what a great city Berlin is. It’s also enormous, apparently five times the size of Paris. It seems like wherever you are in Berlin, you can see the famous radio tower


Wandering west from the tower is the beautiful Lustgarden. I wonder what goes on there at night


The Reichstag building home to the German parliament


Continuing west you come to the entrance to the enormous city park, the famous Brandenburg Gate


A brief history of it


About two thirds of the way down the city park is the golden angel


And of course, not to be missed although it is far from impressive these days, Checkpoint Charlie



I did the math on the map, and I think I ended up walking about 10 miles in Berlin in the three days that I got out, and I think I only saw the essentials, there is so much to see there. An awesome rail system that runs around the clock will get you anywhere you need to be, including lost at 4 a.m. when you are not paying enough attention to where you are going. Apparently East Berlin nightlife is now the most popular, replacing the formerly trendy West Berlin areas around the Zoogarden and Savignyplatz. Places like the Hackescher Market are full of bars, restaurants, cafes and of course, a Kilkenny Irish Pub


After a few pints and some conversation with Pearse the Irish barman, I discovered that he lived in the U.S. for many years opening up Fado Irish pubs around the country. He was delighted to hear that I have been to the Fado in DC a few times, and before long I was behind the bar guest bartending. Good fun


After five great days in Berlin, I decided that I have seen all of Eastern Europe that I am going to see on this trip. Perhaps a slight case of Euro-fatigue, but Berlin seemed light a good highlight to end on. A couple of places like Russia, the Black Sea and Turkey will have to wait for another day. And with that, I hopped an Easy Jet back to London to see my cousin for a few days and to make plans to move on. Africa is calling.