No pics yet because my phone’s running out of juice and there’s only wifi down in the hotel restaurant.
A train day today (as is tomorrow) as it takes a surprising 9 hours to get direct from Berlin to Vienna – those of you who, like me have a rudimentary grasp of geography south or east of Calais, might have imagined that Germany and Austria were right next to each other so it was probably a bit like London to Cardiff – well it is except London to Cardiff via Edinburgh.
Thankfully, the Northern Czech countryside between the border and Prague is as stunning as South Wales (yes, that’s a compliiment!)
Otherwise until Prague, in our compartment we had a German emo couple and German chap with an oriental girlfriend who couldn’t do anything for herself, a noisy Czech family with us from somewhere unprounounceable in the middle down to the still unpronounceable but memorable Brno in the south. And then a couple of female scandi navian interrailers from Brno down to Vienna.
I was not in the boy’s good books when we found that I’d chosen the hotel for it’s proximity to the Mitte station and we came into the Sud and because I hadn’t looked at the map properly, I decided it was walkable. I won him back with a large doner kebab.
I’ve also promised him a taxi when we arrive in Milan tomorrow – little does he know what Italian driving is like…
Tomorrow is our longest single journey door to door though it includes an hour waiting for a connection in Innsbruck – we leave at 9.40 in the morning and don’t get there until 8.35pm.
So we’ve been as far east as we’re going to go, now we’re heading south west. And no I haven’t published the full itinerary yet, I like to keep you on your toes.
I still have Berlin on my mind – you can see why people stick around there. It does seem as though life is a whole lot simpler. I was struck immediately on my return to London by how loudly people speak on their mobiles and how our press is truly dominated by celebrity. Both these things were missing in Berlin, but I didn’t miss them.
I was glad that I got the chance between barcamp and the Web2.0 Expo to have a walk around the city and to meet up with some friends of friends who were nothing to do with the geek scene. You can’t get away from the fact that this is a city that had a pretty shit time through the 20th Century. Revolution, world war, hyper-inflation, fascism, another world war, occupation, division, cold-war shenanigans on both sides of the wall, reunification. Many parts do feel beaten-up, like why would you bother? But everywhere, the contrasts hit you. Sure there’s steel and glass McRegeneration including the Bundestag and all around Potsdamer Platz, but even within a few blocks you’re back in the middle of faceless, brooding, old grey stone and then suddenly an empty bomb-site or two and shiny post-war cubes for the glorious proletariat.
I heard lots of Germans at both events say that they’d live in Berlin, if they could make any money there. Yes, me too, I think. I’ll be back.
By the way, coincidentally but aptly, as well as seeing The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas just before going, I got to see a preview of Imagine This at the New London this week. It’s about the Warsaw Ghetto and manages to avoid being as crass as “Sophie’s Choice: The Musical” – in fact it’s very powerful and moving with a great central performance from Peter Polycarpou and some very hummable themes.