The Final Leg

What a fabulously wonderful whirlwind of a trip!

We’ve eaten just enough gyros and schnitzel to last us until the next time.
We’ve (window) shopped our heads off – with the odd purchase.
We’ve travelled by plane, by ferry, by train and the U-Bahn.
We swam in the Aegean Sea and followed the footprint of the Berlin Wall.
I brushed up on my 4-5 words of Greek whilst Chris sprang straight back into her almost fluent German.

There are no major flights out of Berlin, so on our last day we awoke from our caravan slumber and headed for the train station – to Hamburg

We wondered if maybe Spandau, which is just out of Berlin, was famous for their ballet?

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It was quite a seemless journey all the way to the Hamburg airport and onto the plane where we toasted our fabulous trip.

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Seeya Germany….

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with your black forests and blue skies…..

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Hello Dubai….. at 12.45am….. and 38 degrees!

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Lucky, we only felt it for a brief moment until we were whisked away by air-conditioned bus to our connecting gate, where we only waited an hour or so before getting on our final leg, and going straight to sleep.  I don’t know how we slept as it was the bumpiest, most turbulent flight I think I’ve ever been on, but we were so tired – we managed to sleep through.

So a big thank you needs to go to my lovely cousin for “inviting” me on this trip, for doing the essential research, for being so easy to travel with and for reigniting a long lost joy for seeing Australian bands live.

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As we fade into this fabulous Santorinian sunset, I’ll say :
Kalispera, Gute Nacht and Good Night.

❤️❤️❤️

Noice one Poiter

Anyone who knows Chris knows that she is a diehard Midnight Oil fan, so when she found out that her all time favourites were going to be playing in Europe near where we were going to be – she jumped at the chance.

Now, me – I like to go to the opening of an envelope, so even though live concerts aren’t really my thing (the last one I went to was Kenny Rogers – who rocked, just by the way), I was more than happy to make Chris’ dream come true.

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We needed to fly out ‘somewhere’ in Europe – so we made it Germany – where the Oils just happened to be doing a gig on the exact day before we were due to fly out – the coincidence is uncanny!

Even though Poiter and the boys usually garner 15,000 strong crowds back home, over here, they’re playing much smaller, more intimate venues like Huxleys – a grungy bar attached to an even more grungier casino, which holds 3000.

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We did a little reconnaissance to the venue in daylight hours so we’d know where we were going that night.

Yep – this is the place!

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And lucky we did, because even though we managed to arrive almost on time, the other 2998 people attending all planned to get there at exactly the same time!  A mostly male crowd, with a spattering of Oil loving ladies.

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Even so, we purchased our one beer of the evening and Chris manoeuvred us into an unbelievable pozzy – right at the front (slightly to the side) – we didn’t want have to go to the toilet and risk losing this amazing spot.

This chap on the left behind us looks a little sinister here, however he turned out to be a really sweet young man and also happened to be a photographer hired by Poiter and the boys to take pics during songs 3, 4 & 5. He and about 3 other photographers were ushered into the alleyway between the stage and the fans at song 3 and were just as quickly whisked away after song 5.  We haven’t seen his pics yet – but keep an eye out on his Instagram – @derflip

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Pete didn’t disappoint with his world known dance moves from the first second all the way through to the second encore – 2 solid hours.
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Even during the couple of slow songs, which allowed the boys to have a bit of break, Pete sang with such emotion that it still must have taken it out of him.

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I know all these photos are of Pete, but let me tell you, the rest of the chaps gave a massive performance as well – special mention to Rob Hirst on the drums – he was incredible!

“Blue Sky Mine”
(This is on Chris’ Facebook page, so hopefully you’ll be able to open and see it)

So, my thoughts on live bands have been completely turned on their head… maybe it was the bands I was seeing?  Maybe it was the fact that we were at the front almost wearing Poiter’s sweat?  I don’t know.  All I do know is that I can’t get every single song from the Diesel and Dust album out of  my head!

Well done gentlemen.

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Apologies on the quality of some of these photos – I did what I could with an iphone in a jumpy crowd.  You’re welcome.

Mauerpark – Berlin

On Sundays in Berlin – all the shops are closed which is great because it means that everybody gets to go to the markets in Mauerpark.

We caught the blue line on the U-Bahn and followed the crowd to a mecca of trash and treasures.

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There is literally something for everybody.

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Pictures on wood…

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Furniture, cameras and, why would you go anywhere else for all your ladder needs?

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When we were kiddies my sister and I had fashion face barbies – one of the large Barbie heads on a stand that you could put make up and hair styles on…. Chris never had one, possibly because neither of her two older brothers had one to hand down to her… but she really wanted one.

I suggested she grab this one.

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Chris also found a lovely shell suit jacket that she fancied…

Chris with shell suit
There were old cases a plenty… and this mystery in a can – liquid frozen whole egg ?

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If you’re after Crazy Bastard Sauce, then this is the place to come.

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If only this were at home – we would have taken the trailer down there.

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Do you love a bit of a china tea cup?  Or what about an old fashioned phone dial up phone?  Owl collection anyone?

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There was also a heap of food vans where I sampled the most disgusting hotdog –
OF . ALL . TIME! Maybe in hindsight there was a reason that it was the only place that didn’t have 30 people lined up to purchase their wares?  It was spat out and thrown in the bin after the first bite and we headed for the first place that sold schnitzel with mushroom sauce.

Caravan of Dreams

OMG!  Can I just tell you about the place we’re staying at tonight.

We checked out of the Hotel from Hell this morning and moved across town to Hüttenpalast
Their philosophy is:  “There has to be more to life than having everything.” Maurice Sendak

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An old warehouse style building with vintage caravans inside – set up like an indoor camping ground!  There are shared toilets and showers which are pristine (pristine Christine!), shared gardens and lounge areas and we’ve got our own caravan to sleep in.

This one is Chrisso’s – it’s the Puck

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Perfect for one!

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And this little beauty is mine.  It’s a teardrop or ‘egg’.  I’ve got a swing underneath where you can lounge whilst perusing the bookshelf or play chess with the home-made chess set

teardrop vanThere is outdoor furniture…

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A lovely lounge area

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Help yourself to water

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Or tea and coffee

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An outside chill out area

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A second chill out garden

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Another caravan in our section

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The view from my upstairs van

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The next door neighbours

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Lots of gorgeous little quirky things hanging around

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This is Orca, the resident pup who I’ve befriended… he loves me.

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No, really he does….. look.

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Chris and I have decided that this is going to be our new business venture in WA.  Who’s with us?

Berlin!

I had written a whole blog post about how terrible our hotel in Berlin was…. but you know what?  I sounded like a complete whinger and nobody wants that.  So let’s just say that our hotel wasn’t great and get on with what was.

Berlin.

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I’m not sure how I feel about Berlin if I’m honest.   I really didn’t have any preconceived ideas or expectations. History fascinates me and Berlin holds quite a few of the bigger historical stories, so coming to Berlin should have been really exciting for me, also didn’t want our visit it to be all about the war and the wall, but after a day of wandering around and seeing landmarks and memorials and pieces of the wall, it’s hard to make it about anything else.WALL
They are placing pieces of the wall back in their original spots around the city as a symbol of reunification.

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And they’ve also laid different tiles to mark where the wall was positioned.  Some lengths sit under new buildings.

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There somehow seems to be an infinite amount of broken bits of the wall for sale.

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Some reminders are a bit hard to take… this statue shows the two kiddies at the front being trained to England to be fostered out and behind them is a group of kiddies who were being trained somewhere entirely different…

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This is the plaque.

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Our hotel was in the Potsdamer Platz which was part of a dead zone when the wall was up – it was flattened and buildings torn down.  Now it is the thriving hub of Berlin and has a massive square – not too dissimilar to Federation Square in Melbourne with restaurants and a big open space and an Imax theatre, etc…  But it also houses parts of the old hotel that used to stand in that very spot.  I tell you it’s eery.

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It makes you feel sad and little bit sick to think about the amount of beautiful buildings that were destroyed.

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Chris had read about a relatively new initiative in Berlin where a very thoughtful person is placing these plaques around Berlin.  They sit in front of the houses or places of work, (or where the buildings used to be) of the people who were killed during the war.  We were lucky we knew about them otherwise they would have been easy to simply step over.  This city has certainly moved on in so many ways, but there are some things that will take generations before they can truly move on.

The first one says:

Worked here
ARTHUR KRONER
JG 1874 (born ?)
humiliated / disenfranchised
Cursed in the death
2.4.1943plaques

This is the Brandenburg Gate where the building of the wall first began.  It’s a shame that it’s remembered for that because it was built in 1791 as the royal city gate and is quite a beautiful piece – architecturally speaking.
(I don’t know what I’m talking about – I just like it)

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Now one place that has turned more touristy than any other is Checkpoint Charlie.  This was originally the principal gateway for foreigners and diplomats between the two Berlins from 1961 – 1990, but now it’s more tacky than Times Square…

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Note the chap here dressed up in uniform with a list of prices around his waist…

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That’s the price you pay to have your photo taken with a hat on next to these two disinterested ‘actors’ in front of the checkpoint hut.

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One thing they have done well though is the Holocaust Memorial.

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It took 17 years of discussion and planning and construction, but it was finally completed in 2005.  It’s the size of a football field and set out like a grid.  We walked a couple of meters in from the side, but if I’m honest, it didn’t feel right to walk in any further.

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Just as Greece was all about the gyros, Berlin is all about the schnitty – that’s a veal schnitzel for this of you that aren’t from Australia.  Chris (you may remember her as Kiki – but we’re in Germany now and I’m yet to find out our German names – it’s probably still Chris) Anyway, Chris used to live in Zurich, Switzerland back in another life before marriage and kiddies and she confesses to eating a fair few schnitties in her time, so this was a great opportunity to get out there amongst it and taste a few of Berlin’s finest.

Our first night was what we’re calling a run up to a good schnitty because we found ourselves in a shopping centre at night and we were all of a sudden starving – so the food court was found and optimistically a schnitzel was purchased.  There might have also been a cutlery malfunction…. We’re not proud.broken forkWe promised ourselves that this would NEVER happen again, so the next evening we headed towards a little German pub (although they’re just called pubs here) that I had read about which was walking distance from our hotel. It was a lovely, cosy pub with train platform bench seats that sat back to back (with no back to them) so when you sat down and somebody sat at their table behind you, your backs just leaned up against each other.  Like I say, it was cosy.  Well, they did not disappoint.  We also realised that if we just bought one dish to share then we wouldn’t leave feeling bilious – so we left satisfied both in our tummies and in the knowledge that we’d finally learned something.

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Chris and I both love a downstairs department store food court – like the one at Harrods or Galleries Lafayette, etc….  Well, we found the Berlin one – Ka De We – which stands for “Kaufhaus des Westens” (Department store of the west).  It’s described as a ‘mind-boggling bonanza of gourmet treats from around the world.”

It has everything you could possibly want in a food hall.  Things we’ve never seen before…. These were eggs of flavoured salt.  I thought they might be Easter eggs.  Luckily Chris is fluent in German food.

SALT EGGS

They’ve got a mini cup cake place – the cup cakes were tiny bite sized morsels.  I tried the matcha and ginger – and it was delicious!

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We went for a little wander through the suburbs – that’s what happens when you get off the u-bahn a stop or two after the one you were planning to….

I think you can tell what sort of neighbourhood you’re in when this is spray painted on every corner!

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You might also want to think about how you lock up your bike….

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But after a wrong turn, we were met with a fabulous street of all sorts of shops – this book/music/stationery shop was right up our alley.

And look what Chris found…. do you remember that we’re seeing Midnight Oil whilst we’re here in Berlin?  Chris is a little bit excited!

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I hope that wasn’t too many facts for everbody….. and just in case you’re wondering, the beer is lovely.

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Goodbye Santorini

Goodbye Santorini!

Honestly, it’s been great, but we’re ready to move on now, so thanks for putting on one last show so that we could remember why we put your on our list in the first place.

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We decided that we’d had enough of the steps and had dinner at our hotel restaurant.  They have a lovely view, friendly staff and yummy food.

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We both know where the sun shines…

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The lovely staff members – Christopher (R) makes the kickarse cocktails and Kostas (L) brings them to you – a great team.

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We’ve noticed a drone hovering over our hotel on most evenings at sunset – as awesome way to get great photos…. but a little in your personal air space when they’re hovering outside your balcony!

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This is our new best friend, Sara – she’s awesome.

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The last glimpse of Santorini by night

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And our last sunset as the last cruise ship sets sail.

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Thanks Santorini – You’ve been great!

It’s pronounced Bo-Gan

You know it’s time to leave when you’re sitting in your jacuzzi on your balcony and all you can hear is a group of drunk, loud, obnoxious Australians shouting at the top of their lungs about how effin’ great rugby is.

Some rugby competition was on back home and the Santorinians kindly played it on TV and in all pubs – so you could hear the cheers and jeers from nearly every balcony around the caldera when the game ended.

We listened to Aussie Aussie Aussie – Oi Oi Oi and not one, not two, but three rousing renditions of Waltzing Matilda coming from a balcony a few hotels down.

Then, just as we were wondering if the afternoon could get more annoying, a bird flew over us and shat about an inch from Kiki’s face into the pool…..

It’s time to go…… Santorini!