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Last Day in Berlin: Tiergarten, Bellevue, Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Eurovision.

Realised this morning I didn't write about my last day in Germany, or watching Eurovision in an apartment in Berlin. So this is out of synch with the last travel post. We got up earlyish and wound up on Roesenthalerstrasse for breakfast with Ann and M-E (whose name turns out to be spelled 'Marjaliisa'.) Good to see them before I left. I think M-E gets back here before I leave Helsinki - provided I don't bail a week or two early for Paris or Amsterdam. Tempted to really do Paris properly, as I'm seriously considering setting Falling there, rather than in some custom-built and unnamed city... but I'm still mulling that one over.

I went and shopped around for something for my wrist. Settled on a metre of synthetic cotton/leather blend that'll last longer than straight leather and five tiny silver charms: skulls, bracing, that sort of thing.

Got back. A & M-E had gone and J and been joined by two friends she hadn't seen in five years: Inga and... my memory for names sucks. Someone else.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering through the Tiergarten en route to the Friends' friends apartment in Berlin's current boho district, there to watch Eurovision.

Full Flickr set here (Tiergarten, Brandenburg Gate, Eurovision).

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There's a great many more shots within the Tiergarten. Rather than my posting them here, you're better off looking at the set.

I really had no preconceptions of what this day was going to contain. I just walked and took it all in. After we exited the Tiergarten we found ourselves approaching a large monument under construction. I *think* it's a monument similar to the 44(?) Bells, commemorating the lives of the pilots who died in the course of the Berlin Airlift (pictured further below in this post.)

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The same group of 'Candy Bombers' commemorated outside the Flughafen (did I even post about that? I need to check.)

The monument was being built on the huge traffic island at one end of the long stretch of road leading to the Brandenburg Gate (a stretch of road I'm embarrassed to admit I have no idea the name of.)

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We crossed over briefly into another green swathe. The place was littered with families making the most of the sunny weather. They'd all brought seating, barbecues, a few had erected marquees, and the air was scrimmed with cook-smoke. People were throwing frisbees, kids were playing, footballs were being knocked around... it was really quite lovely. Hundreds of families all sharing a space, brought together by the weather.

When we were walking I was looking at everything and pointed out an ornate building through the trees. J thought it might be the schloss, so we checked it out. J didn't know what it was, but I recognised it as the Bellevue Hotel.

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According the the Lonely Planet guide on my phone the Bellevue was one of the hotels servicing what could be considered Berlin's equivalent of Times Square, before WW2 sucked all life out of the area. Celebrities, dapper doormen, the Charleston, Garbot flicks at the UFA Filmaplast. It would have been a hell of a place to be in the Twenties I think.

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But this group of kids seemed to be digging it right now. They spent about twenty minutes cartwheeling and logrolling down the hill. The patrolling member of the polizei behind the gate didn't seem to mind too much.

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We worked out how to get the Friends' friend's place and set off again. This is the 44 Bells monument cresting the treeline.

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Out front of what I think is a sporting arena. Or something.

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We got close to the 44 Bells (dont even know if that name is correct), and discovered some kind of 3-tent rave going on in a large gated area. We couldnt get in. MC was definitely Australian, and the next act was a human beatbox. Which was odd. Beatboxing seems to be a thing in Germany. More than in Australia at any rate.

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We cut through the park, and this made itself known:

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The Reichstag. I wasn't expecting that.

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I really wanted to just stay there and be there for ten minutes, but the others were go-go-go. I let them get ahead, stuck around for a bit, then headed off. Caught up with them at the Gate.

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Got through to the other side.

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Hunger was making people short-tempered so we looked around for something quick, realised Eurovision had already started. Looking at this I was finding it hard to care:

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Head full of Wings of Desire and B&W shots of the place as a shelled ruin.

Anyway, we U-Bahned it out to... I can't rememnber where. Climbed a steep street to an old apartment building, got buzzed into a tiled hallway, climbed three flights of stairs and let into a well-appointed apartment with poilished wooden floors and two dogs. We got there just as Turkey's act came on, so about halfway through the performances. The atmosphere was just like Eurovision anywhere in Australia, really: a lot of drunken commentary and piss-taking and hooting.

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And when Germany won, everyone went apeshit for five seconds and then went back to drinking.

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And that was pretty much it, really.

3rd June: Helsinki Update

1st July: Berlin to Helsinki

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