Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve. One of the nice differences between Berlin and London is that there are actually a few things that stay open. After having spent the last two years in London over Christmas, I’ve learned that the entire city shuts down. Nothing, not even a bus or train operates on Christmas day. Having a heart attack? Nahhh, call a cab. The ambulances probably won’t come either, as I witnessed first hand two years ago in a Starbucks on Christmas eve. The difference in Berlin? Well, there was plenty of public transport still on, and the markets and certain shops/restaurants were still open, albeit with limited hours.

Since the trains were still running, we decided to spend Christmas eve seeing a few sights in the city, namely the Berlin Victory Column. We then headed out to Sachsenhausen concentration camp about 35 miles outside of Berlin. More on that in another post, here. Not the most uplifting, per se, but given the cloudy, rainy and cold weather, it was one of the most eerie, realistic feeling trips I’ve taken in a long time.

 The Victory Column was meant to celebrate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war in 1864, but by the time it was actually inaugurated, Prussia had also defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). It’s a multi-purpose statue now, apparently!

Christmas eve dinner was another adventure, as we ended up going out a bit later than usual around 21:00. Almost everything had shut down for the evening, leaving us with two options in the mall next door to the hotel. A traditional restaurant that was about to close up for the evening, and a Chinese place that was pretty full, likely because it was all that was left open. Our decision was made for us, and Chinese it was! There’s a first for everything, right?

The firsts continued after our oriental experience and returning to the hotel too. Our hotel has a Smoker’s Lounge, which is really nice being that it’s cold out and we enjoy our cigars, especially on holidays and special occasions. We ventured down there after dinner and ended up spending the remainder of the evening, literally about 3 hours, talking to a group from the Saudi Arabian Military Attache Office of Berlin. Anything from politics to religion to travel was fair game, and the guys were really nice. Goes to show that you just never know who you’ll meet until you start talking.

Not the kind of Christmas eve I ever expected, but memorable and amazing none the less…