Meanwhile, In Berlin...

Sat., Oct. 6th:

I strolled around the Ku'damm and was suitably impressed by it. It's a shopping playground for the very wealthy, with stores devoted to all of the well-known designer labels (except Prada, for some reason - sorry, Renée), each with its own doorman/security guard to welcome/repel the welcome/unworthy.

There being nothing there for me, I made my way to Wittenbergplatz and KaDeWe.

KaDeWe, short for Kauf Des Westes, claims to be the biggest department store in Germany, and possibly in Europe.

I wouldn't be surprised. It's as big as, if not bigger than Macy's in New York, so that should put it in perspective. One whole floor is devoted to food and drink of every kind and origin, and there are counters at which one can sample the various dishes on display.

Every city should have one.

After spending a couple of hours and a few Euro on some food and DVDs, I left and headed for the (ahem) Kaiser Wilhelm II Gedachtnis Kirche, on Hardenbergplatz.

This is the unreconstructed ruin of a chapel built before WWI for the then Kaiser, which was largely destroyed in WWII. Unlike much of the surrounding area, it was not restored after the war, but preserved in its present condition as a reminder of the horrors of war.

The building next to it is more recent, built as a modern counterpoint. It's almost entirely constructed using lead glass bricks which, on a sunny day, are said to give a beautiful lighting effect within.

Sadly, it was closed the day I was there so I can't comment.

The other side of the square houses the Europa Centre, a modest shopping mall with restaurants and craft shops, as well as Saturn, part of a large German chain of electrical goods stores. Sort of like Dixons, HMV and Power City all rolled into one (non-Irish readers insert local equivalents here).

After a little more exploring, I found myself at a sign pointing to the Panorama Lounge on the 20th floor. That'd be just beneath the Mercedes-Benz star.

For me this meant one thing: British Intelligence HQ, West Berlin, as anyone who has seen 'The Quiller Memorandum' will recall. I thought this part of the Europa Centre was offices, and thus not open to the public, but for 6 Euro I could take the elevator up to where Alec Guinness looked out over the city and sent George Segal off on his mission across the Wall.

The view from the lounge is indeed panoramic, and largely unobstructed. Worth a visit, should one find oneself in Berlin.

After a few more photos, it was back to the hotel. Hadn't the energy to go out again, so I watched a James Bond movie in German instead. Sounded like Roger Moore did his own voice dubbing, but I can't be certain.

Sun, Oct. 7th:

What do you do when you've spilled coffee all over the only pair of jeans you brought with you, the hotel doesn't have a weekend cleaning service, and the shops don't open on Sunday?


I won't bore you with the details - suffice to say it left stains in embarrassing places and leave it at that.

I changed into less casual attire and, determined to make the best of my last day in Germany, headed for Alexanderplatz, where, as it turned out, C&A saved my life and sartorial self-image. Turns out shops were opening on Sunday after all, it being the run-up to Christmas, and I managed to find what I needed.

I took a few photos of the train station (The Bourne Supremacy) for my brother, then wandered for a bit before returning to the hotel to check out.

I had a few hours to kill, so I spent them in the hotel bar watching Spurs 'lose' 2-2 to Liverpool (threw away a Robbie Keane 2-goal lead) and drinking the local pilsner.

The game over, I grabbed my luggage and headed for the station, bidding Berlin and Germany a fond farewell.

Next time: The train to Vienna, the city of Vienna, and leaving Vienna.