Around the World in 21 Days – Part 3

This weekend marks 25 years since Germany’s reunification, so I thought it was only fitting to post my third and last entry Around the World in 21 Days series. After New York and Amsterdam, I flew off to Berlin with my sister, her husband, their children and our cousins for four uber-short days. We booked this fantastic holiday apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, an area which is undergoing gentrification. For years, I had assumed the architecture of East Germany would be austere and functional-looking, but in fact it was full of wonderful neoclassical-style buildings that reminded me of Paris and London. That was the case in Prenzlauer Berg, anyway.

Brandenburg Gate at dusk
Brandenburg Gate at dusk

Berlin was boiling hot. Who would’ve thought? On the steamiest day of all (35C/95F), we went on a three-hour bike tour with Berlin on Bike. Since the rest of my group was from the Netherlands, the tour guide gave the tour in Dutch. But that was fine because the scenery was amazing and my sister and brother-in-law acted as interpreters for me. Another thing my Dutch companions had on me was bike-riding ability. For the Dutch, it’s no big deal to hop on their bikes and do errands. Their infrastructure is fantastic. Where I live? Hmm, not so much. It had been three years since I last rode my bike. I rode 10 metres on cobblestones and promptly fell off. I had a couple more falls. My fellow travellers seemed to find this very amusing. Look away now if you’re squeamish:

IMG_0538

I’m not exactly sure which accident caused that bruise. Up close, my flesh kind of looked like an uncooked bratwurst. It’s so severe that you can still see it, two months on! Despite the accidents, the bike tour was actually one of my favourite bits of the Berlin trip. It’s a great way to see the city. We shared the road with cars for the most part. I believe we did a 15-kilometre trip, tracing the line where the Berlin Wall once stood. It was quite moving (not to mention chilling) to see how the city was divided. Definitely sparked a few story ideas for me.

Food-wise, strangely, I didn’t touch a single wurst and not even a crumb of a schnitzel. A friend gave me firm instructions to go to KaDeWe‘s food hall. Of course, I obeyed and gobbled an amazing chocolate treat whose name escapes me. Something with layers of chocolate sponge possibly soaked in Cointreau plus chocolate ganache. Who cares what it was called? In Galeries Lafayette, I could have gone for a box of roasted crickets and worms, but ate Japanese food instead. The food hall was so packed that I ended up sharing a tiny table with a friendly Belgian man who was on his lunch break.

So after 21 days away, it was sadly time to say goodbye to my family and return to Sydney via London and Dubai. As I mentioned in Part 1, I listened to Qantas’ Inflight Radio on a loop. One of the songs that caught my ear and seems *totally* appropriate for this post was Home By Now by Bombay Bicycle Club. Here it is for you to enjoy:

Look closely and you'll see London Bridge.
Look closely and you’ll see London Bridge.

So that brings to an end my short series about a long trip. Click on the links for Around the World in 21 Days part 1 (New York) and part 2 (Amsterdam) if you missed them.

I’ve got a Facebook contest going until Oct 6, Australian Eastern Standard Daylight time. Go to my FB page, tell me your fantasy holiday destination and you could win e-books by Valerie Tejeda and Eric Smith!

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2 thoughts on “Around the World in 21 Days – Part 3

  1. Yikes on that bruise, Vanessa! I would have sat at a cafe eating the chocolate desserts until everyone finished bike riding and came back for me.
    I think I’ve ridden a bike maybe twice since the 70s, when I had the coolest pink Huffy bike with a basket and streamers. 🙂
    It looks like you a had a fabulous time with your family. Of course it would have been better without all the falls on the cobblestones. haha.

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    1. Ha! Kim, I was tempted to be a spectator that day, but I’m glad I did it! I earned a bucketload of gelato after the ride. 😉

      My eldest sister had a bike with streamers and a white basket with plastic flowers. And I had serious bike envy! X

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