Trip to Germany: Berlin

I was off to Germany & Poland for 3 weeks last September and October 2013. Thanks to my boss for letting me take a very long vacation for Malaysian standard. Yeah, we in Malaysia rarely can take leaves longer than 2 weeks unless you're going to perform Hajj pilgrimage.
Although I have been to German before in 1996, this trip was my first visit to Berlin. I flew in from KL to Frankfurt on board MAS. Had a chit chat with other passengers around me. They were students in German's universities and guess what.... they thought I also a student. Maybe I can pass as a matured student.
On the way to Berlin via Frankfurt
The aircraft landed in Frankfurt Terminal 2 and we all took photos before saying goodbye and heading to our own destinations. Later, I check-in with Air Berlin for connecting flight to Berlin. On board, I get to know Monja who is working in Frankfurt and heading to Berlin for a corporate meeting. It was short flight and the aircraft landed at Flughafen Berlin Tegel. Unbelievable, the biggest city in Germany has such a small airport? In Berlin my host Azmil was waiting for me at the arrival hall.  
First day in Berlin
Azmil guided me to City Berlin Hostel where it will my resting place for the next 5 days. I chose this hostel because it is the nearest hostel to starting line, only 3km away. Here I shared room and bathroom with 5 other guests. On the first night my bunkbed mate was a hot German girl. Yup, it was a mixed room. 

I visited a several interesting places around Berlin during my 5 days there. Alexanderplatz is the most visited place I've been in Berlin because this is transport hub for U-Bahn & S-Bahn in Berlin. It used to be in East Berlin side before 1989. The notable structure at Alexanderplatz is Fernsehturm (TV Tower) which can be seen from the distance.
Brandenburg Gate and Pariser Platz
Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburg Tor in German) is the one of the most iconic landmark in Berlin. It used to be in East Berlin before the reunification. We had to run pass through the structure during Berlin Marathon. It was built in 1788 and completed in 1791. Located by Brandenburg Gate is a square called Pariser Platz. It was name after Paris city to mark the triumph of Prussian troops along the Allies for capturing Paris after the overthrown of Napoleon. 
I was standing on Pariser Platz with Brandenburg Gate in the background

Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie is the crossing point between West Berlin and East Berlin from the legacy of cold war. If you watch James Bond movie "Octopussy", in one of the scenes you can see Checkpoint Charlie before the reunification. Be careful when you want to take photos of the checkpoint because the guys in American Army uniform will demand some Euros from you. But if you wish to take photo together with them, it is a courtesy to spare some money for them.
Another edifice of Berlin is Reichstag building. It was opened in 1894 and was used until 1933 to house "Imperial Diet" or a parliament ("Reichstag" in German) for Germany Empire. The ground in-front of the building was the meeting point and bag drop-off during Berlin Marathon.
Nice view of Reichstag
The Reichstag Dome can be visited with prior registration. I'm not sure why it is not open to public.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station)
Berlin Hauptbahnhof is Berlin main central station that connect Berlin with other cities via railway. This is where I took my train to Warsaw a day after the marathon. The place was so huge with multi-storey of shopping mall and train platforms at top and bottom of the station.
Race kit pick-up at Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof
Two days before the marathon we went to Berlin Tempelhof Airport to pick-up race kit. Actually, Tempelhof was one of several airports in sectors controlled by the American, French, British and Soviet during the Cold War. The Americans run the airport after the WW2. It was known as city airport and Boeing 747 used to land at this airport but the airport seized its operation since 2008. The good thing is the authority maintains the place to be public area where Berliners can run, cycle and picnic at the runaway. The airport terminal and hangers are used for expo and events.
After race kit pick-up, I checkout the expo and spent about 100 Euro purchased official merchandises and running gears. 
Breakfast Run
On Saturday, one day before the race, there was a pre-race Breakfast Run organized by SCC start from Charlottenburg Castle to Olympic Stadium (Olympic 1936) about 6km course. There were about 10,000 participants showed up together with their family and friends. Breakfast was served at the stadium and I had the opportunity to meet up and take photos with other Malaysian and Singaporean runners.
Olympics Stadium
Olympiastadion Berlin was opened in 1936 is the second biggest stadium in Germany after Westfalenstadion in Dortmund. Summer Olympics in 1936 which was inaugurated by Adolf Hitler was held here. It is among a few architectures that survived aerial bombing by the allied forces during WW2.
Visit to Hucky's home
After breakfast run, I was rushing to met Hucky and his family at Kreuzberg. I met this family last year in a hostel in Kota Kinabalu when I was there for Borneo Marathon. Hucky was leaving in an apartment together with his wife Gitta and beautiful daughter Luzy. They have another grown-up son living next door with his girlfriend. The whole family love traveling and they had explored South-East Asia more than me. They showing me around the house full with artifacts and collections from their younger days and from traveling around the world. Hope one day, I will make enough money to travel around the globe like them.  
East side gallery
Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall) East Side Gallery is a must visit place if you are in Berlin. It is a 1.3km long of remaining Berlin Wall located at Muhlenstrasse along the Spree river. There are more than 100 paintings painted by artists from around the world as a memorial of freedom and make it the largest outdoor gallery in the world. 
Guess who are the guys kissing behind me? Most people got it wrong.
I can resist to write my name on the wall. At least I wasn't as bad as these two buggers "Dominic Khoo" and "Marc Neo" from SG who wrote their names on almost every painting using black spray. They just ruined the paintings. Anybody visiting Eastside Gallery after this will notice these 2 names.
Write your name on the Wall!!
I decided to write my name on this wall. Next time, if you go to Eastside gallery, don't forget to check out my name there...hehehe

Berlin Marathon
Then on Sunday, it was Berlin Marathon. Read my race report in other post here.
After race party at Club Kosmos
Later that night we went to Kosmos for after race party. It was funny looking at some of these runners who could barely walk after the race but they can really enjoy themselves on the dance floor. Yup, I did show off my dancing skill with Karen ;)
Everywhere in Berlin
Some other places we went to was Tuk-tuk Indonesian restaurant for carbo-loading. We met up with the Indonesian owner and his cook who also running Berlin marathon. We also went to an Indian restaurant own by a Malaysian who has been living in Berlin since the 80's. I had enough kebabs over there and don't feel like eating it any more :P

Finally, thanks to Azmil & Karen your great company in Berlin. Danke Schon!! Berlin is such a wonderful city and hope I will be coming back again in the future. 

Wait up for my post on trip to Warsaw soon.


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