Freudian farewell

Eoghan came visit me last week. After four days of sightseeing, absorbing history, drinking, absorbing alcohol, philosophical discussion and enlightened breakthroughs, (in no particular order of importance or relevance), it was quite emotional on Tuesday morning.
Seeing him off with strict instructions on how to get to the airport, I bid him adieu on the platform of the U-Bahn station.
"Fuck knows when we'll see each other again," I said as we hugged in a manly manner.
"Yeah," he agreed wistfully. "Hopefully not too soon."

Quickly realising his Freudian slip, he backpedalled like mad. "I meant the opposite! The opposite!!"
But it was too late - the damage was done. The doors slid shut and the U-Bahn whisked him away before he could dig himself into any further holes.

Still, it was funny, and it summed up the weekend perfectly. Just the day before, we'd managed to get up early (11am) despite Berlin's best efforts to entice us out all night the night before. We had a mission - to make it to the top of the iconic Fernsehturm, Berlin's landmark 368m TV tower, apparently the fourth largest structure in Europe.
Not a cloud in the sky threatened to ruin what promised to be spectacular views of Berlin. We got there and found there wasn't even the usual long queue of tourists to endure. "Happy days!" we thought as we strolled up to the door. We weren't celebrating for long. A helpful note in three languages explained why there were no tourists. "Due to maintenance work ... closed Monday, 20th of April 2009." Probably the only day of the year it was closed. Bastards. We could feel them looking down on us from their lofty perch, pissing themselves with Schadenfreude.

The day before we made our way to the Olympiastadion as guests of Hertha Berlin. We were to pick up our press passes from the main office. We were already late (due to circumstances which may or may not have been under our control), when we learned the office was a good 15 minute walk away from the stadium. Never mind. We walked down the wide boulevard, listening to the roars of a match underway behind us. We eventually picked up our tickets, and made our way back to the stadium. Poor Eoghan was quite distressed at the thought of missing a moment of action. Like a dog straining at the leash, he pushed forward. We eventually found the press entrance. Eog showed his ticket and went in. I, meanwhile, kept rooting around in my pockets. First one, then another. Rooting, rooting. A feeling of dread came over me. Then realisation hit.
"Eog, you're not going to believe this - I've lost my ticket!"
I went back to look for it, retracing my steps along the 15-minute trek back towards the press office. Miraculously, I found the envelope with my name on it by the side of the path. "Happy days!" I thought. Celebrations were short lived again however - it was empty. Some fucker had grabbed the ticket and wristband and discarded the rest. I went back to the press entrance, but whoever it had been hadn't even the wherewithal to try using it. Ah well!
Eoghan later told me they'd lovely rolls and sandwiches laid on for the reporters, and beer too! On tap!! Simply help yourself. What a country! I'll certainly be going to see Hertha play the next time they're home.

We did manage to see the Reichstag on Saturday, when we learned it was the most visited parliament in Europe, or in the world, maybe even the universe. Whichever, it was quite impressive, and one can see why people queue up as if they were Russian.

Also impressive was the cigarette machine we found in Kaffee Burger one of the nights. This thing was from the future! Sleek and black, with just one screen from top to floor, and groovy red dot lights to its right. If Knight Rider was to ever get a cigarette machine, this would be it. The screen showed packs of cigarettes as if on a turntable, and the turntable could be turned (as the name would imply), and cigarettes selected, simply by touching or dragging a finger along the screen (a touch screen as you may have deduced).
Myself, Mark and Eoghan must have stood there for an hour looking at it, captivated. Poor Eog, the only smoker among us, had to buy three packs of cigarettes, just to make the lights flash. Jesus, I nearly bought cigarettes myself! But of course I didn't on account of their evilness.

Speaking of which, we found Hitler's bunker, or what's left of it, on Monday. Just a parking lot now, with flats around it, the site is marked only by a simple plaque which details the network of tunnels and rooms in which the mad fella and his missus ultimately took their own lives almost exactly 64 years ago, as Russian troops battled their way into Berlin. (Their anniversary is next Thursday, in case anyone wants to mourn the abrupt ruination of the formerly popular name Adolf.)

It turns out the Russians were as fond of propaganda as their foes. That iconic picture of the soldiers raising the flag over the Reichstag by Yevgeny Khaldei was actually staged and then doctored. The plumes of smoke were added for increased effect, as were the two soldiers on the right, while the soldiers were given watches, a huge status symbol for soldiers at the time. Even the flag was altered to make it look more dramatic.

It just proves you can't believe anything you read or see. Those damn journalists!

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