Sunday, October 4, 2015

Day 52: German Unity (and Shopping)

German Unity day and Shopping day - Do Over

I guess that's the luxury of being somewhere for a while. If you miss out one day, there's another day to give it a try.

We all overslept, again. I don't know how it happens that we can do this, especially since our neighbours upstairs seem to be raising a herd of elephants. But seriously, you can hear them walking around ALL THE TIME. I woke up at 4:22 am and heard them walking back and forth for a long time. I know they have kids, but I don't know why anyone on a Sunday morning would be doing that much walking around that early. And it's loud. Not to the point where it sounds like they're  jumping or doing something silly, it does sound like they're just walking... but it's loud enough that I often think my own kids are about to enter our room after walking the hallway. It often tricks me into thinking it's in our apartment instead of above us. This is why you should always live on the top floor. Sigh.

Ok, we're not going to see if the farmers market is open today, or any market for that matter. We're going to go boot shopping. Chris needs some. I need some. Again, how does one shop in a city where there are tons and tons of shopping but you don't really want to go to every. single. store. looking for the right boot? And if you remember, I did get some the other day, only to see my "dream" boot in a window just across the street from our apartment. For Chris, we check on-line. I remember seeing a cool-unique shoe store that got rave reviews when I was looking for dirndl shoes for Oktoberfest. I looked again and the store is located nearby. They are top notch, and priced accordingly. But we'll take a look because they have a good selection and Chris' feet are hard to fit as well as he (like all of us) is particular in taste.

Anyway, we're off to go see if we can shop. At our tram stop, we are able to pass by "my" boot store. It's closed. No sign. Well, I can always come back during the week, if needed. But as we wait at the tram stop, I notice a poster advertising "Sunday Shopping" for The Mall of Berlin (a section in town, maybe like UnionSsquare in SF). It says they're open today for shopping from 1-7pm! Ok, so maybe that's just for that mall... or maybe it's for all stores that participate in the Sunday Shopping?

And we're crossing our fingers that the tram doesn't do what it did yesterday (take that weird route)... phew, it is back to "normal" schedules today.

Sunday Shopping (left)
So is short for Sonntag (Sunday) but it seemed funny to us, "So Closed", yep, that's for sure (right)

We get to Hackescher Höf and find the store Trippen (for Chris) and it's not open yet. We look around and check out other stores. Eat Berlin. Chocolate. A toy store. At one of the stores we ask and they say, oh yes, the stores should open at 1pm. We're just early. So it seems that there's the agreement that stores open for Sunday shopping at 1pm unless they decide to open early. Ok.

So, we'll do lunch while we wait for Trippen to open.

We ate at Hackescher Hof (left) instead of Oxymoron (bottom of the right photo)
The photo on the right also shows an independent movie theatre.

Random photo of Venice's hair looking very pretty.

We showed Chris around this cute shopping area and the Amplemann store. We wanted him to see what we explored the other day. We didn't, however, go into the Amplemann Store (we spent enough there for now!)

After lunch, Trippen was open. Chris went to try on food as the kids played on the store's custom made tiles and then out in the courtyard. Chris had really good luck and ended up buying two pairs of boots. The woman who helped him talked about how the leather will last a very, very long time. That if he brings the shoes back, they can resole the shoes and they will be good for another very, very long time. He asked about shipping, etc. since we don't live here and how that could all work. But she was very adamant about knowing how we can have the shoes resoled and they'll last for-EVER.

At this point, the kids were "done" with shopping (and yes, we did buy them ice cream for doing "so well") No desire to look around anymore, so we headed home. At our tram stop at home, I noticed "my" boot store was open (they probably opened at 1pm!) I asked Chris if he'd come with me to help me try some on, he said yes. We sent the kids the 1 block-walk home with our packages and keys. A win-win situation.

The woman working at this store spoke very limited English. Enough to say words like, "stretch", or "good for winter", and things like that. It is a very small store and most of the shoes are up high. So as I was trying on different styles of boots, she was going up and down the ladder, working very hard for me. I was worried that I wouldn't like any of the boots and she'd have gone up and down for no reason. The boots I went in looking for did not fit well, but there was another style that fit very well and I thought would be comfortable for walking miles every day. I went in looking for black. Thought about brown and taupe. And walked out the store with dark green! Yay for us all!

By this time, we were almost running out of time to head over to the Brandenburger Tor again! So, we rallied the kids, got ourselves ready and headed out to the tram stop again.

We arrived at the perfect time. The sun was beginning to set and it cast a beautiful light through the Brandenburger Tor. The ferris wheel created a cool silhouette in the late-afternoon sky. And... it wasn't crowded at all?! Where was everyone? I think they were shopping because stores were open on Sunday. And, they all probably came yesterday when it was the "real" holiday. Whatever the reason, it's not crowded and it's perfect weather (not freezing like it was at Oktoberfest!)

The Brandenburger Tor from the East side.
We weren't allowed to walk through the Brandenburger Tor, we had to go around a bit. This is because the music stage was set up right on the other side (the west side) of the gate. And, they seemed to be directing admissions to the area through a small security check. I think they're mostly looking for fireworks, flares, and glass bottles (things that are not allowed inside). We don't go through any metal detectors, just a "open your purse we want to glance inside" type of security (like for a football game or something).

The Brandenburger Tor from the West side.

Photo by
Coca Cola has a huge presence at this celebration. Their ads are everywhere. Photos by them are on the barriers. The sound equipment has their logo. There are sound speakers all along the street and several big screens to show what's going on the stage no matter where you are along the faire. Big sponsors. The singer we saw the most of was Marc Marshall. A good singer with a stage presence... like Don Ho? I don't know, I felt like we were at a lounge show in Vegas or Hawaii. It was that kind of entertainment. Of course, 90% of what he was singing was in German. Anyway, he sang his heart out as we walked the street (the celebration is happening on Straße des 17. Juni, I think I said this already, the street on the west side of the Brandenburger Tor) looking at the food options and aiming for the ferris wheel.

Xander LOVED watching the patterns on the ferris wheel, watching for
patterns and thinking how he would program it if he had the chance.

Views from atop the ferris wheel. You can see how uncrowded it is!
Victory Column (top and bottom-left), Brandenburger Tor (bottom-right)

After our ferris ride (Venice is excited to ride every ferris wheel we ever cross paths with, and so far, so good), we looked for dinner. The kids and I opted for a Chinese cart while Chris went looking for bratwurst of some kind. After eating, we looked for dessert. Chris = crepe with nutella and coconut. Venice = chocolate covered strawberries (we had to go up and down the street on this one as no one could quite remember where we saw it). Xander = zuckerwatte (but it was old so he didn't end up eating it). Diana = zuckerwatte (yay, I got two as I'll eat old cotton candy and I took Xander's!)

Funny story: As we were purchasing Venice's chocolate covered strawberries, Chris handed the woman €4 (the sign read €4). But the woman said, "No, €2." We looked again and saw a different sign. We were confused and looked at her and she said, "Happy hour!" Ah! We gathered that it was nearing the end of the night and they were trying to sell off all inventory before closing down. Perfect timing for us!

With our treats in hand, we headed back towards the Brandenburger Tor to exit and head to the Bahn station. We thought the last performer was done and we thought the evening was over. But no! There was one more "act", from a local radio station. We're not sure if all the singers with this "act" are from the radio station or if they are regular people who tried out and won a spot in the show or what. But, they introduced, "Tina Turner," "Kim Wilde," "Joan Jett," "AC/DC," and more. The "house band" was comprised of "Slash" on lead guitar, "Ringo Starr" on drums and more. The performers were pretty talented and it was fun to be at this eclectic concert. It helped that we (including the kids) recognised most of the songs. So, we stuck around to watch them all.

The lights on the Tor were particularly fun to watch. The last song of the night? We Are The Champions (by Queen). What a fun way to end the evening.

Random story: At one point, a super tall man (and his companion) stood right in front of us. I want to say he was about 7 feet, but maybe more like 6'5"? I don't know. Dude was tall. No worries, we've had an unobstructed view for a long time and we could easily move back and forth if we wanted to see better. They also didn't stay too long. But as he stood in front of us, I could only think, "Poor guy. He's so tall, he must block people's view wherever he goes. And he probably gets dirty looks for it."

Some of the awesome lights during the show (left). The super tall man (right).

Congratulations, Germany! Gute Nacht!

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