Friday, September 7, 2018

Working off a Jet Lag Hangover at the Cold War's Most Famous Airport

Jet lag’s a funny thing. My lights went out the second my head hit the pillow at about 10pm. Out like a log, sleeping like a baby but my body decided I’d had enough at 4:30 in the morning.

I can’t just get up as Tim and Letty are still sleeping in the same room so I lay quietly for a couple of hours until Tim stirs.  We all gradually awaken and shower up before breaking out for the day.

Potsdamer Strasse in the Schonberg district, south of the center of Berlin, will be our home for six nights.  This is a Turkish neighborhood. If it was in Los Angeles, we’d call it ‘Little Istanbul.’ Red flags with white crescents decorate many of the apartment balconies here.  Little cafes, or bars, populated solely by Turkish men dot the area.

A bakery across the street delivers us cheap but good, filling food with strong coffee to get us started.

Today is just a slow day to get us accustomed to the different time zone and to recover from our jet lag. 

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Berlin is full of cold war and World War II sites and history.  I’ve always been fascinated by the main airport in the middle of town, Tempelhof, and it’s role in history...particularly in the Berlin airlift at the start of the Cold War. Just under 277,000 flights came in to keep West Berlin alive when the Communists of East Germany and Russia shut down all land access shortly after the war.

It’s a little over a kilometer from our hotel so we walk over and get a really in depth tour of normal, everyday, residential Berlin.

The airport was decommissioned a little less than a decade ago and has been transforming into a huge park ever since.  We finally arrive at the main terminal, now locked and empty. The semi-circular building is huge, more than a half kilometer from end to end.

The only way through is around so we make the long trek to the eastern end of this formidable structure to finally find an entrance to the park on the old runways.

Past a couple of baseball fields (home of the BerlinBraves), we find a biergarten to settle into, have some currywurst (Tim’s been dying to try some), and a couple of cold brews on this very hot day.

Luftgarten sits under some of the precious few trees in the new Tempelhof park with a great view across the former airfield. Currywurst is available as is a Berliner, a pastry Tim’s been dying to try.

I get the currywurst from the guy manning the barbecue and order a Berliner from the stand at the biergarten as the girl hands me a beer.

“I want a Berliner.”

“That is a Berliner.”

“No, the pastry.”

“We don’t have the pastry, that’s a Berliner bier...Berliner Kindl.  Trust me, you’ll come back and let me know how good it is, no?”

OK, so a bit of a misunderstanding but Tim loves the currywurst and I love the beer. And, yes, I did let her know.

It’s about six blocks through a residential neighborhood to the U-Bahn station back to the hotel.  I love these kinds of walks because it gets us a taste of the real flavor of a destination, not the ones you see in the tourist brouchures.

Kids at play, parents watching, and...for some strange reason...hand-water pumps on every block. 

I couldn’t get any of them to work and am still mystified as to why they’re there.

Eventually, we find our way back to Potsdamer Strasse to our lovely, comfortable, and friendly Turkish neighborhood for another dinner at Neffes Cafe and settling in for the night.

It’s a laid back, slow moving day but that’s what we need to combat the jet lag from the 30 hour travel day before and the activities to come.


Copyright 2016 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Pictures Copyright 2016 - Letty Musick
All Rights Reserved

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