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Sunday, 1 March 2020

Berlin

After work on Wednesday, I get the train across to Nottingham Station from work where I meet L. We are on the 17:45 down to London St Pancras International, sadly only in 2nd class as I wanted an open return and nobody is rich enough for the 1st Class version.

Then it’s a short hop on the Circle Line to Paddington where we are staying for the first night at the Abbey Court Hotel on the edge of Hyde Park. It’s not a Holiday Inn sadly but it’s lot cheaper than a Holiday Inn. I have already sussed out the local Fullers pub, The Victoria, which not only serves us a decent pint of ESB, if expensive at London prices, but also does food until 10pm.

The hotel meanwhile is basic but is fine until we find out just how basic when we come to take a morning shower for which there is no hot water at all, not even for a wash in the sink. 

We check out, still smelly, and get the swift, but pricey, Heathrow Express straight to the Airport from Paddington. Our flight with British Airways to Berlin Tegel takes off just after 10am, giving us enough time to grab a pricey (again) Heathrow breakfast. Meanwhile L’s cold is getting worse and we’re worried that if she sneezes in front of Security, they’ll probably quarantine her.

On arriving in Berlin, we have to get a bus to take us to the city because the ageing airport isn’t hooked up to their train\tram network. The airport has been down to be replaced since 2011 which is when the new Brandenburg Airport, built opposite the former East Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport, was supposed to open but they’re still waiting for them to finishing building it.

We do have a Holiday Inn this time and it is excellently position is just inside the old East, yards from a remaining section of the Berlin Wall in what is now the East Side Gallery. The actual border was the river Spree and the famous Oberbaum Bridge was a famous crossing point from East to West.

Having dropped off our bags we head off for the first of three days at the velodrome for the World Track Cycling Championships which is just a short train or tram ride away. We never could quite decide which was easiest. The tram was certainly more difficult when we approached the velodrome from a different direction and couldn’t find our way due to it being sunken into the ground and all the subterranean entrances being on the train station side.


After watching the cycling on Thursday we find an excellent bar called Protokoll and after trying a different, more English style, bar called Home on Friday we return to Protokoll for another session on the Saturday.


On Friday word reaches us that the last two days of the UAE Tour have been cancelled because of two suspected cases of coronavirus and all the riders have been quarantined. What is more vital to us is that Danish cyclist Michael Morkov left the UAE Tour the day before it was cancelled in order to ride in the Madison here. He was sat in velodrome on Thursday watching his teammates shatter the world record on their way to Team Pursuit gold and has now been told to go isolate. I don’t think he sat near us...


Friday daytime sees us doing the tourist sites including the Checkpoint Charlie museum. The museum, along with many things in Berlin, have changed somewhat since I last visited in 1992.


L, of course, has requested that parkrun be worked into our itinerary on the Saturday (not that she’s obsessed or anything). This does, without any pre-planning at all, coincide brilliantly with my 100th parkrun. As L says I've come so far for someone who hates them so much.

The run takes place at Volkspark Hasenheide and we run there from our hotel which is about two miles. The route is two laps (of course) and includes a nasty little 200m section up a steep hill. At the run we meet two people from Bramcote. It’s a small world as they say.

Afterwards we run back to the hotel in time for a late breakfast and a look at the East Side Gallery before heading back to the velodrome while failing to find a free cashpoint on the way.

On Sunday morning, it’s back to Tegel to start the journey back home. At the airport there are quite a few people wearing face masks as Germany announces it has over 100 people infected with the coronavirus including their first one in Berlin.

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