Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pelican

I was my mums birthday today, so I decided to take her out for a meal. She wanted to try the new Indian resturant in Handforth, the Viceroy.

I had North Indian Garlic Chicken, it was a great combination of spice, garlic and chicken. My mum ad Jaipur Chicken which was a chicken breast in sauce with spinach and vine tomatoes. £11.99 for each of the chiefs special main courses which include peas pilau rice. I very much enjoyed my dish it was spicy but not too hot that you couldn't taste the flavours. The rice was worth a mention rather than the usual bog standard pilau it was flavoured delicately. The restaurant itself has been given a facelift, the decor is elegant and stylish. Slightly 70's retro vibe but done very nicely. All together its a slightly more upmarket affair than the Maharajahs was but if they continue to serve that quality of food then it should do well.

My mum enjoyed her birthday treat. I bought her a new purse (which Kath helped me to choose) and Kath got her a book recommended by her mother. Its nice to make my mum happy she deserves a treat after spending so much time looking after everyone else.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shuffle (Berlin part zwei)

On Monday morning we woke up late, Paul and Chris had caught an early flight so it was now just Kath and I. It was another cold day -11c with a breeze that felt like ice. We took the train to Museum Island, stopping for a coffee and breakfast on the way. The cafe we found under the arches was amazing, bohemian with excellent food and coffee, it was better than any chain store I have ever visited. There are several museums all together on Museum island. We decided on the Pergamon museum, as recommended by my friend Hanna.

The Pergamon is a large Museum, and features the reconstruction of parts of Pergamon an ancient Greek settlement. Its very impressive. They also has a 360degree panorama view of an artists impression of the city as it would have looked in the Greek era. It was very well done, changing from day to night using florescent paint to give the impressions of movement.

After the Pergamon Kath noticed that there was a Salvador Dali museum, so we decided to give that a try.Dali was such a character, instantly recognisable. I never realised how many films and TV adverts he was involved in. For example designing this scene from Hitchcocks film Spellbound. He also did lots of illustration work, I knew about Don Quixote but not Faust nor Alice in Wonderland.

Sony Centre
Sony Centre roof
After the Dali museum we met up with my friend Hanna and her husband Silvio. I haven't seen her for years since she was working at Bristol. They took us on a little walking tour first to the Potsdamer Platz. During the communist era this was divided by the wall. I mused what had happened to the underground. Apparently they was also bricked up by the communists.

Next stop was the nearby Sony Centre. Built as a retail store with a roof to ape mount Fugi its an impressive shopping centre. Kath and I went for brunch there the following day.

Hannah and  Sylvio then took us to the Brandenburg gate. It was nice to see at night and hear some more trivia from natives.

Heading from there to the holocaust memorial. What I hadn't realised is that was Hitler's bunker. We were unable to go down as it was closed. On returning from Belirn I read about the underground Berlin tour, which take in Bunkers, and various underground complexes I hope to take this next time I visit Berlin.

After the walk we were feeling pretty cold, we asked them to take us for German food. They recommended a Bavarian restaurant. We shared a plate of meats, it was very enjoyable.

The next day Kath and I both felt very tired. Eventually heading out for a walk ending up back at the Sony Centre where we stopped for an enjoyable Brunch. In the evening we met up with Hanna and Sylvio again. Taking a quick walk and to Alexander Platz home of the the world clock. Then went for a Curry. Unfortunately Kath was feeling a bit feverish so we basically eat dinner and left. It was nice evening thought Hanna seemed more relaxed having gotten her exam out of the way.

Wednesday was the final day for Kath and I in Berlin, Her train left at 10.15. I went to the station with her, and hugged her goodbye. Then I went to meet  Sylvio, Hanna had to work. After taking a short walk to see the O2 Arena Berlin and some bits of the wall,  Sylvio and I had a look round the Berlin video games museum. Although small it was a voyage of nostalgia for me. We had a kebab for lunch then he was kind enough to accompany me to the airport. I think he got a good laugh when I got stopped by the security guard. I am not sure what but something on me triggered the metal detector.

I really enjoyed Berlin, there was a lot to see so I hope to be able to return there and take in all the places I missed out on. It was especially nice to meet up with Hanna again, and meet  Sylvio, Kath and I were both grateful to them for their hospitality.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Titanium

This time last weekend I was in Berlin eating Indian food in Mitte after a cold day sightseeing in Berlin. I had travelled to Berlin for Paul Aiden stage do. Ian, Danny Joe and I travelled from Liverpool on Thursday meeting Paul, Chris and Matt in Berlin.
Reichstag

Brandenburg Gate
We stayed at the MEININGER Hotel Berlin Central Station, located right next to the central station, only a short walk to the Reichstag and Brandenburg gate.

Thursday

Thursday we were tired and hungry so decided to go out for a meal. Chris found a Vietnamese on Trip Advisor. Taking a taxi as we walked in I noticed that there was a Rainbow flag on the door. The owner was a very talkative person, and offered that we could have a mixture of food. When it arrived it was incredibly tasty, the ingredients were all fresh. My favourite was the duck, it was crispy and fresh not too fatty.
As we left the owner thanked us for "being so open minded", someone asked for directions to a strip club which the owner was only happy to provide us with. Walking a block we came to it, the posters outside of toned men and the Rainbow flag confirmed it was a gay strip club and we were in the hear of Berlin's Gay district! Taking a short ride on the lookout for a club we came to another area, we weren't able to find the place we were looking for so we went into a large video shop on the corner. The young chap running it came out with two funny lines, first he asked "what are you looking for, you want to watch or you want to...?" then after we informed him that we were interesting in watching rather than participating he told us, "this place you buy two drinks then you must fuck", smacking his hands for extra emphasis. Deciding to give up on the search for a strip club we ended up at a rather cool bar. There was sand on the Floor, and a very relaxed vibe, on a cold Berlin evening with snow falling it was just the ticket.

Friday

Heading out of the hotel we set off for a day at a shooting range. A taxi ferrying us from the hotel out of Berlin to a range used by the Police. Originally built for the War we were a little apprehensive, it look more like something from a horror film. Fortunately the guys who met us were really nice, unveiling an arsenal of handguns to get started. 3 semi automatic pistols, including a Glock, Beretta and a revolver. Each of us took turns to hit metal targets. After the pistols we got a chance to try out a pump action shotgun on the same target range. This time it was against the clock, seeing how fast we could get the rounds out. Following the shotgun we had to wait for a different range to try out the rifles. We decided to brake for lunch. The ranges were open the the elements so we were all extremely cold. Fortunately the nearby cafe had a roaring log fire and warm food. At 3pm we went to the shooting range to try out an AR-15 rifle and a WW2 issue Mauser which I think was this. The Mauser was so loud, even wearing ear protectors it sounded like a canon. I can't imagine what it must have been like in the war with these going off all around. I was pretty useless at the target shooting, mostly because at 50meters I couldn't actually see the target very well. It was pretty upsetting considering I had been very good with the pistols, nevermind. Our scores were
Person Score
Chris156
Paul134
Joe111
Matt96
Ian83
Dan73
John4
We had one thing left, each of us had one shot with the shotgun using a solid shot where we could shoot at juice carton full of water, my video is here. Friday evening we were all geed up after the shooting headed out on a pub crawl. Visiting several bars, stating in an underground pub with a shot of peach snapps. Onto a place where you could pour your own beer another cool little place then onto a club. My memory is hazy of the event (probably good for some ;) I do remember getting into an altercation in the queue. We took a train, I had been talking to someone and feel behind the others, so I cut the line front of a couple of people to join up with Ian. One guy took real offence claiming to have been waiting for 45 minutes (though we all arrived on the same train). I pretty much ignored him, and the line moved quickly. Then literally as I was walking in he grabbed my hood. At which point the bouncer (who was pretty much the biggest guy I have ever seen in my life) asked "Do you have problem?". When a 7 foot guy asks if I have a problem the only answer is no, strangely this idiot responded "Yes"! At which point the bouncer lifted him out of the queue with one arm and plonked him down outside of the queue, gesturing to all the other bouncers he said "this guy, he has problem". Trying hard to keep a straight face I entered the club not looking back.

Saturday

Danny wanted to go off shopping, but the rest of us decided to do some sight seeing. We went to the TV tower in the centre of Berlin. We had to queue for a while so Chris went off shopping for his souvenirs. When we finally got up the tower it afforded a really good view of the City. In the evening Joe and Danny went off to watch football, and eat out so the rest of us went to Mitte. First taking a tour round an abandoned building taken over by artists called Kunsthaus Tacheles. It was really interesting, lots of different artists with their own styles and collection. I wanted to take Kath there but we never had a chance hopefully next time we are in Berlin I will. Feeling hungry we went into an Indian called Amrit, a cavernous place split over two shops. There was some confusion because they relied on a computerized ordering system, which was suitably German and efficient. Only issue was they moved us so our food got delivered to the wrong table. We had to hail over the waiters, fortunately when the food did appear it was exceedingly tasty. Matt's vindaloo was spicy and hot but not overpowering, in fact all the food was delicious.  Especially Paul's scampi.
After the Indian we met back up with Joe and Dan. Drinking a beer we convinced Paul to wear a Leather Doggy bondage mask.
Paul contemplates the mask
After a few more drinks in a little bar which had a rather impressive fish tank. We decided to see what the strip clubs were like. Danny got directions to one form the barman. Joe decided he didn't want to join us in hindsight it was a good move. We just found Gold possibly the worst strip club in Berlin. We paid to €10 get in and this gave us each a dollar, dollars were given to the strippers. Before we got to the strippers we were forced to check our coats. When we finally sat down with a rather expensive drink we were confronted with two well chubby tattoo girls. I can't say I found either very attractive. Worse though was the other girl who came asking if any of us wanted a private dance. She looked like she had a serious drug habit. We pretty much drunk up and left as quickly as possible.

Joe told me that as he as walking back to the train station he was propositioned by one of the many girls, apparently on telling her that he was engaged she said, "that's marriage I am talking about fun".

Sunday

Sunday was the final day for Ian, Matt, Dan and Joe. Sunday was Also Kath was arriving so I was excited. In the morning our head were heav but we managed to go for a walk from the Hotel to visit the Holocaust memorial, then walk from there to checkpoint Charlie. The guys went to eat at a steakhouse, Argentinian beef is very good they tell me. I went back to the station to meet Kath, her train arrived around two. I took her to the Hotel we had a quick snake then went for a walk to the Brandenburg gate, meeting the others returning as we did so. It was cold the river was frozen over but for Kath it was actually warmer than Poland had been. In the evening after the others had left Paul Kath Chris and I went for an Italian meal. The food was tasty but the bill nearly gave me a heart attack. They charged us for thing which we thought were free. Like break we didn't ask for it, they just put it on the table, ditto water which was expensive mineral stuff. Not the best way to round off the stag do, but I think we all had an excellent time, it was one to remember.