June 12:  Warsaw to Berlin


Nate got the Boob Shirt for his dancing last night.

The socks announcement was difficult at lunch today.  We stopped at a crowded McDonald's in Poland and the group was split between inside and outside seating areas, so I had to do it twice.

The crossing to Germany wasn't too bad.  Matt didn't know what to expect since this was his first crossing since Poland joined the EU.  The only snag was Shierly, whose Indonesian passport held us up at every border.  It didn't help that she was wearing a cannabis-themed t-shirt.  At the crossing there was a "Bar Alf".  Yes, a bar adorned with the likeness of everyone's favorite People Alien.  I wanted a photo but it would have been through a rain-covered coach window.

First thing we stopped at in Berlin was the East Side Gallery, the longest surviving section of the Berlin wall:

The artwork here dates only to 1989 when the wall was opened.  Some of it was repainted in 2000 to cover up graffiti, but now the graffiti is back.

On August 13, 1961,
A wall was erected
Down the middle of the city of Berlin
The world was divided by a cold war
And the Berlin Wall
Was the most hated symbol of that divide
Reviled, graffitied, spit upon
We thought the wall would stand forever
And now that it's gone
We don't know who we are anymore

Ladies and gentlemen
Putro is like that wall
Standing before you in the divide
Between East and West
Slavery and freedom
Man and woman
Top and bottom
And you can try and tear him down

From there we rode to Zoologischer Garten station and were dropped off for an hour of free time prior to dinner.  This area was the heart of West Berlin and is still a central location.  The Zoo station was the inspiration for U2's Zoo TV tour, and the U2 subway line coincidentally stops at the station.

Kaiser Wilhelm Church.  Hard to tell from this angle, but the bell tower is a tattered shell, having been bombed in the war.

Dinner was at Joe's Beer Hall near Zoo station.  Before dinner I ordered a beer for 3.50, paid 10.50, and the guy gave me 12 change.  An extra 5 note.  Cool.

This was the best meal of the tour.  I ordered the meat.  Sausage, pork, two kinds of beef in garlic butter.  Quite a yummy feast.  Toward the end, in the company of the full group as well as many confused Germans, I did my duty:

(Bushy rings the bell)
"lllllLADIES AND GENTLEMEN, good evening and welcome to Joe's Beer Hall here in Berlin, Germany, where we have all gathered to enjoy our farewell dinner, and, of course, to hear a very special announcement.
ARE YOU READY?  (yeah)
Contiki...ARE...YOU...rrrrrREADY?  (yeah)
For the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching around the world...ladies and gentlemen...
iiiiiI'M WEARING BRRRAND NEW SOCKS TODAY!!!"

Applause and photos were even more abundant.  I didn't notice the Germans' reaction.  If anyone has action shots of me, send them on.

The Generator hostel is a happening place.  I think it had like 800 rooms.  The bar was relatively cheap (2.50 for a half litre) and that's where we spent the night.

Good thing Lance passed out.  He was getting out of control.

Friends Forever.

There was one controversial thing about the bar, and that was the abundance of LOLITAS.  The hostel was full of teenagers and as you can see most of them were quite welcome in the bar.  This had Boob Shirt written all over it.  The girl with the ponytail, whose name I think was Joanna, was said to be 19.  The girl next to her was clearly not 19.  There were some others in the pool room just outside the bar who were barely even teenagers.  Fortunately nothing terrible happened.


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