Thursday, November 08, 2007

Trip to Amsterdam and Berlin

I went to Amsterdam and Berlin last week, and am now just getting to the blog post. I put alot of work into my Flickr set so I will record the highlights here.

I got into Amsterdam early on the Wednesday the 31st and checked into the Botel.

I needed a cup of coffee as I didn't sleep on the plane. I learned on this trip how little sleep I really need. I walked into a coffee shop, and oh yeah, i was in Amsterdam. It kind of caught me off guard because it was 8 in the morning, and I wasn't thinking.

I hiked over to the museum district to check out the Van Gough museum. The city is pretty easy to get around. It was interesting, but I was about to crash. I went back to the hotel for a nap.

I woke up and went in search of an Indonesian rice table (in Dutch, rijsttafel) for dinner.

The food was fun, but is more for a group, then just one person.

Aaron came on Thursday morning. I didn't pack an underwear, so we went on a hunt for an H&M. Good sale, back in the saddle. We stopped off to eat a bunch of stuff along the way including bitterballen, frites w/ mayo and a crepe.

We stopped into their new library which is behind the Botel and found we could check email on an iMac.

On Friday we went to the Eastern Docklands, one of the most impressive social living spaces in the world.

Aaron worked on a project for the architect who built this piece of he project.

The next morning we had to get up at 4am to catch our flight to Berlin. Ouch.
We left our things at the hostel and then headed over to Alexanderplatz, which is where the big TV tower is in the old east Berlin.

We walked around for a bit, saw the Berliner Dom, the Reichstag building, Potsdamer Platz, Berliner Philharmonie and The Brandenburg Gate. You know, we hit all the highlights.

What was amazing is putting everything this city has gone through in perspective. I knew very little about Berlin, and felt like one of those dumb Americans on TV who can't identify Iraq on a map.

Aaron took us to see the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was the most amazing thing we saw in Berlin. Aaron studied under the architect of the memorial.

We went back to the hostel to have a nap.

Aaron suggested we head over to Kollwitzplatz back on the east side for a good meal. He found out about Gugelhof, an Alsatian restaurant, in one of our travel guides. I am glad he did. We had a steak with a potato au gratin dish that was amazing. I had a berry tart that had so much flavor, I can still taste it.

When we left the restaurant, we just started walking with no new destination in mind. We turned a corner, and saw what looked to be a 100 year old dive bar. We had no idea what was behind the door, but I needed in.

Aaron and I had stepped into another world. The bartender was a 5'10 with long blond hair, rolled up with a Russian winter hat on. We thought she may be a burlesque dancer. The place was candle lit and something like Robert Johnson or Ledbelly played on the stereo. This may be the coolest bar in the world.

The next morning we got up and casually walked through Potsdamer Platz before getting Aaron to hi train. After Aaron left, I waited in a two hour line to get to the top of the the Reichstag building.

Here is view of the dome from up top:

I went back to the hostel to pick up my stuff before heading back to the airport, for a night back in Amsterdam.

Got back to the Botel at 1am, and everything had been shut down. At least I had a clean bed and a warm shower!

So this is how the story ends...except for one more amazing thing. After I check my luggage at the airport and get my boarding pass, I go get a cup of coffee and who do I see? Jeff Tweedy. We've already made eye contact, so I had to talk to him. Wilco is one of my all time favorite bands. Just a few words, and a good luck in travels. Then off to my plane.

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