258. A Club on the 20th Floor

(lighting made it near impossible to get good photos)

We had been tasked with visiting two “must see” clubs in Berlin. One was called Watergate, and wasn’t open while we were there, and one was apparently found sandwiched between corporate offices, on the 20th floor of a building. We didn’t have any other information, not even a name, so by the time we made it back to Berlin we had forgotten about it.

Thanks to the great deals that often pop up on booking.com, we were in hotels in Charlottenberg, instead of the usual hostels. Cheap ones, but still, it’s nice to have your own room every once in a while, especially when it is the same price as a grotty backpackers! Sadly that is usually the only perk of a cheap hotel. The Holiday Inn Charlottenberg, however, seemed to really pride itself on its “concierge” service, with signage everywhere going on about it. So naturally we took advantage, and asked them for advice on places to go out. The poor wee guy looked a little stressed, told us he didn’t get out much and went to find the guy in the back room for clubbing advice. Guy number two also didn’t seem to have many ideas, but suggested maybe we head to one nearby called Puro and gave us some incredibly vague direction.

As we wandered through the leafy green streets of Charlottenburg, we really got the feeling we were on a wild goose chase and decided to let go of that plan. Every 100m there was a brightly lit sign for some Irish pub, so we thought we’d just give up and head there. Strangely enough, it seemed to be on a basement floor of a shopping mall – we went past a bunch of closed up shops, down escalators and found a pretty packed Irish bar. How bizarre. After a snakebite or two (I know, we could only have been more stereotypical if we were drinking Guinness), we eventually thought we’d call it a night and head home. As we tried to find our way out of this confusing mall situation, we spotted another set of escalators and a big banner that said “Puro” – we had finally found this mysterious bar, in a shopping mall of all places!

As we went up the escalator to check it out, all there was was a desk where ID’s were being checked. It was kind of like a registration table at a conference. As in, trestle table covered in cloth in the middle of a huge open space type thing. Once we were given the all clear, we were walked over to an elevator, where another person inside escorted us up to the 20th floor. None of these antics were at all expected! Upon exiting the elevator, there we were in a packed club, with floor to ceiling glass windows around the entire building providing amazing views of Berlin.

When we tried to get to one of these windows, which were lined with lounge chairs in a booth-type arrangement, we were instantly met with hostility! Apparently all of the seating areas lining the glass windows can be booked out by groups, which then seemed to have the ability to block access to the view. When we pointed out that don’t worry, we don’t want to steal your seats, hit on your girlfriends or drink all your bottles of champagne, we just want to check out the view, it seemed all was well and we were met with “OK well you guys are cool, but no-one else is allowed up here.” Ummm OK, sure thing buddy…

All in all it was a fun and unique spot, if very crowded and full of people asserting some pretty strange rules to dominate what little space they could find. (I seriously wouldn’t have been surprised if the guy informed us he had peed around his seating area to mark his territory, he was that adamant).

257. Photos from Munich

Not gonna lie, we had a very brief period of time there so I didn’t get to see much, but wandering around the city was quite fun, with lots of bavarian looking buildings, and important looking business people in fancy cars.

256. Inner City Surfing

In the middle of Englischer Garten is a man made standing wave in the Eisbach which has been a popular surfing spot since 1972

Stumbling across a bunch of surfers in the middle of an inner city park surely is a perplexing site, but most entertaining. Especially as most of them were really talented – there is even a sign that reads: “Due to the forceful current, the wave is suitable for skilled and experienced surfers only”

254. Englischer Garten

Englischer Garten was a really beautiful, incredibly green, and HUGE park in the middle of town. It actually took us about 40min to walk through it to find the Chinesischer Turm Beer Garden!

253. A True German Beer Garden

In Englischer Garten we found ourselves at the “Chinesischer Turm” (Chinese Tower), the second largest beer garden in Munich.

The history of the Beer Garden, so I’m told, is that brewers were only allowed to brew in winter (in the early 19th century). In order to keep their beer cool for sale in summer, they stored it in cellars along the river Isar under the shade of the trees. These areas soon became popular drinking spots, and a law was enacted in 1812 to allow/encourage the sale of food, thus bringing to life the beer garden.

Whilst there are self service beer/food kiosks at the beer gardens, you can actually bring your own food/drink and have a wee picnic at the tables.

At the Chinesischer Turm, named after the Chinese Tower in the middle (which is actually modelled on the “Great Pagoda” in the Royal Botanic Gardens in London), we were delighted by an Omm-pah band as well as a lovely leafy green area full of tables and chairs, and a little self service kiosk full of Hofbrau beer and bretzels, among other famed (clichéd?) German delicacies.

230. The Hot Game

Warning, serious idiocy follows…

It started as a pretty classic prank. We were driving along the Autobahn (as you do) in our rental which happened to be a pretty flash VW with accessories that did all kinds of things. Don’t ask me about the engine or any of that car crap, I’ll be hone I care about the accessories. One such handy feature was the seat warmers. The driver of the car decided to play a wee joke on the poor gentleman in the passenger seat, and put the seat warmer on, on what was already a stinking hot day. It took him ages to notice, hilarity ensued.

Then some bright spark had the idea that we should play what was dubbed “The Hot Game” (clever name). The way the hot game works, is you put ALL the seat heaters on, and blast the heating as high as possible, and see who cracks first. The problem is, we had a car load of really stubborn people and it went on for quite a while. Eventually we all agreed that we didn’t want the driver to pass out and kill us all (you can just see the headline on the Otago Daily Times “5 Kiwis found dead in stinking hot mess in Czech Republic”). However, the kicker that really made us all give up, was yet another flashy feature of the car. There was a wee screen on the dashboard that counts down how many kilometres you can travel with the remaining fuel on the tank, and it started dropping very quickly.

There were no winners in the Hot Game, just a car full of sweaty idiots.

A few nights later we met a British Couple, and for some reason the Hot Game came up. Possibly because the bar we were in was very reminiscent of those few minutes in the car. Instead of the expected “gosh you guys are stupid” our new friend Rosie said “Ohhh yeah we play that too! But we call it ‘Car Sauna’. Have you guys played ‘Air Brakes’?” Believe it or not, there are people more stupid than we are – air brakes is when everyone opens the doors of the car at once and as the name may suggest, it slows down. Sorry Rosie, don’t think we are going to play that one!

222. Michael Jackson being offensive… again

Having already seen the hotel in Berlin where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out of a window……we weren’t expecting to see more of his antics so soon. As it turns out, the Prague Metronome, which stands on the hill on the opposite side of the river to the city, just to the right of the Prague Castle, used to be home to a giant, imposing statue of Stalin, reminding the citizens who was boss. After the fall of communism it was replaced with the metronome.

When Michael Jackson played in Prague in his ego seems to have been at its peak. Not only did he rent out the entire top floor of the Hotel Intercontinental, but he also put a giant inflatable statue of himself on the very spot where stalin used to be. Is that not the definition of innapropriate?!

214. Berlin to Prague in Stop Motion

When driving over the Swiss Alps, I was trying to get some good shots of the scenery around me, but we were whizzing past them all so quickly that I ended up holding down continuous shutter to see if I could catch them. When flicking through the photos really quickly the effect was really cool! I’d just recently seen some amazing stop motion videos made by my friend Marc and thought maybe I could give it a go too.

My attempt was not at all planned, just a few bursts in some more interesting places, and when we hit town I passed my camera around and it came back with some pretty hilarious shots! If I were to do another such video it would be good to have the camera properly mounted on the dashboard of the car, but nonetheless it was a fun experiment, and an efficient way to share my road trip snaps!