No photograph of the sleeper. We said we'd record it in the morning but forgot. We were dazzled by the station. The Hauptbahnhof is amazing: the largest, most modern station in Europe, according to our unreliable tour guide (see below). It's like an airport. We'll return here on Sunday to catch the train to St Petersburg. Before we left, I asked about food provision on the St Petersburg train – the 'man in seat 61'suggested there was none (see www.themaninseat6.com). We'll be on this train from Sunday til Tuesday, so it's an issue. The girl at the enquiry desk gave mixed messages. “No. There's no restaurant car”, she said. She shrugged, “It's a Russian train. But yes, they make some sort of provision. You can buy food on the train”. Monica wanted to raid Marks & Spencers before we leave. There is no M&S in Berlin but we found an excellent local deli - Germans don't starve.
We made our way to our hotel in the Mitte district via the S-Bahn and U-Bahn, - no taxis for us, parked our cases and went sight seeing. First we went Potsdamer Platz, and caught one of those city tour buses that ticks off all the main sights so that you can return home and say, yeah, I've seen that. In mitigation my mobility is restricted – did I mention my tendinitis? We were blessed with a live guide, as opposed to using earphones. He was a grumpy sort, someone in the wrong job. His English was poor. He knew the price of everything and felt the pain of the German tax-payer. As we passed the Reichstag, he pointed out a colourful building with swings outside it. “See that kindergarten? That's for the members. Eight million euros that cost. There are fourteen children. We paid for that”.
We had lunch in a restaurant in the Sony Centre. It had its own beer and mini brewery. Monica had Borscht and rye bread, I had schnitzel and the house beer - what could be more German?
In the afternoon, I navigated our way from Alexanderplatz to the museum quarter. Unfortunately we exited from on the wrong side of the station and I was momentarily lost. Monica wanted to ask someone but I put my faith in the time-honoured technique of wandering around and checking the map. Sure enough, after a few unnecessary circumlocutions, we found our way. I've always found it a useful way of seeing bits of the city you hadn't expected. Monica's method relies on people understanding you, and knowing the way.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent wandering around the Alte National Galerie(above) filled with German Realists and French Impressionists. Eventually, my foot was hurting so badly we excused ourselves and limped (in my case) back to the hotel. We're based at the foot of Museum Island, formed by the splitting of the river Spree. We ate in the hotel.