Berlin is an amazing city, and that was clear the moment we jumped off the train from the airport at the Hauptbahnhof, the magnificent modern building that is the main railway station at the city.
There was so much life on the streets; endless chains of any form of bike you can think of, cars that never need to stop for congestion, and people who answered my attempts to speak in German in perfect English. So many cafes with tables on the pavement, lots of kebab shops, and of course, the clicking pedestrian crossings with the iconic green man in a hat.
I posted myself in charge of navigation, and after a shaky start, managed to get us to our hostel in Mitte by the Natural History Museum without too much difficulty. The room my sister and I were allocated was perfect; the Alt Bar in the courtyard, complete with sections of Berlin Wall, even more so.
Originally located in another part of the city, the bar's interior was moved in its entirety in 1993, and was once a favoured watering hole of David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich. This also brought us face to face with something British readers no longer experience; the fact that in Berlin, everyone smokes like chimneys and smoking is allowed in bars.
The moment you walked into a bar, the sting of smoke is blinding. Although the bar was so dimly lit you couldn't see anything anyway.
The next day had been allocated as the obvious tourist day. We set out from the hostel, and headed south along the Chauseestrasse trying to avoid being run over by trams. Lost amid university grounds, we did manage to extricate ourselves and find our way on the Unter den Linden.
The Unter den Linden is THE tourist drag. Lots of tat shops advertising tours by Trabant. Street cafes in the middle of the road selling kebabs and prosecco. Young kids buying fast food and religiously putting their litter in the bin - Berlin is spotless and seemingly actually respected and cared for by its inhabitants.
Aside - we only saw four pieces of litter that day. All of which my sister put in the bin.
After a stop at a cafe where I was shat on mightily by one of Berlin's ubiquitous hooded crows, a bird we don't see in England but do in Scotland, we trundled down towards museum island, but never really fancied going into any of them.
Museums take a long time, and ours was short.
So, we went through the Brandenburg Gate, a magnificent edifice, before making our way to the huge park that is The Tiergarten, former hunting grounds of the Germanic royals. Sadly there were no wild boar about - just lots more hooded crows - and the cold weather meant there were no butterflies to see. Luckily Mozart and Beethoven weren't bothered about the weather.
There are lots of little gazebos and things in the park, and each one of these had a homeless inhabitant. Poverty is perhaps less visible in Berlin than London, say, but it is still very much there.
Another reminder of the darker history of this city is the Soviet War Memorial on the road that cuts that Tiergarten in half. The T34 tanks preserved there had leaf cutter bees living in their wheels.
We began to head back now, taking in The Reichstag and its various memorials, before having a splendid cafe stop on the way home before stocking up with provisions - and Berliner beer! - at a Lidl.
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 30.04.23