The end of 2016 and our last day in Berlin. There is no way we will ever get through everything in Berlin in one trip, there is just so much to see and they really do have their tourism perfected. First off we visited the holocaust memorial, over 2000 stone blocks rising and falling unevenly over the space. Underneath is a museum but on new year eve the line was long and so we contented ourselves with wandering through the narrow silent aisles, sunlight breaking through the gloom every so often.
Today was cold, the pavement covered in frost and ice, your breath fogging in the cold air. While over the last few days in Berlin we have had relatively mild weather averaging around 6 degrees today was cold rising to only 2 degrees in the afternoon sun. This is of course only a precursor to the frigid temperatures we are likely to experience in the arctic circle in Finland but already everyone is nervous commenting on what works and doesn’t work at keeping out the cold.
The afternoon was a true test with a tour by Segway. We had booked a 1.5hr Segway to go tour and were not disappointed. While everyone (except Ben, he was annoyingly good at it) was a little bit shaky getting started we all soon got the movements of leaning forward to go forward and rocking back on your heels to slow down and were rocketing down Berlin’s streets. Yes you heard me right Segway’s are like cars here so we were zipping up and down roads weaving in and out of cars and trams. It was brilliant but at the same time very very cold with everyone losing feeling in their hands and feet.
So what do you do to put warmth back in your extremities – the boys seemed to think beer would do the trick so our last supper in Berlin was a beer hall full of schnitzel, goulash, spätzle and of course beer.
Originally the plan was to wander down to the Brandenburg gate after dinner for their big New Years celebrations but heightened security and super large crowds made this a less attractive option. What do you do on New Year’s Eve in Berlin then, street drinking and fireworks of course, both I should point out, perfectly legal here in Germany.
When I say fireworks I’m not talking tiny little fizzers, I’m talking big explosion in the sky type of things and the cracks and bangs could be heard all over the city until the very early hours of the morning. We personally saw them being set off in the middle of streets, cars driving calmly past as boxes of colourful rockets shoot up into the night sky. Our attempts at an empty square near checkpoint Charlie were slightly safer and slightly less frenetic but still dangerous enough to make you laugh nervously as you light the fuze and hurry away to have another swallow of beer. A completely different New Years to what we normally see in Australia and totally unique to anything we have seen before.
Tomorrow we travel to the arctic circle for the next leg of our epic adventure!