A few notes from the trip:
– Lufthansa is a very nice airline, but the pilots seem intent on breaking speed records. We landed in Frankfurt and Berlin at high speed with a little bounce, then hit the brakes as if they’ve just run into heavy traffic on the Beltway.
– My first public transit didn’t go so well, but I don’t have to repeat it. I had to take a bus from Berlin’s soon-to-be-closed Tegel Airport, and that required standing in a long line for a ticket machine. (Or so I was told by all the signs — on board, a couple of people just handed the driver some cash.) I was riding to the nearest U-bahn (subway) station. The driver slowed as he approached the bus stop, where some people seemed ready to board. Then, suddenly, he took off like … well, like a Lufthansa pilot trying to set a speed record. I thought I had actually pressed the “STOP” button. I hopped around the bus and found another “STOP” button, then saw that the display now said “STOP.” But because I had managed to catch the express bus, we traveled another 5 minutes or so before stopping.
I would have had a hard time retracing my steps, but fortunately, another U-bahn station appeared. Right next to the neighborhood sex shop.
– The U-bahn was easier, with one hitch — the machines purport to give instructions in English and take credit cards, but when you put in a credit card, it suddenly switches to German. I had to break a 50-Euro note — my fault for not having smaller change. But the woman running the snack-and-magazine booth didn’t flinch when I bought a snack and magazine totaling maybe 3 Euros and paid with the 50.
I got back to my machine just as the train I wanted pulled in. A couple of women came up behind me to use it next. I raced to put in all the coins and got my pass … JUST as it closed the door. The women and I had a good laugh at my effort. No big deal — next train came in a few minutes.
– Now I know to take the S-bahn, not the U-bahn, to the Olympic Stadium. It was a wonderful, educational walk all the way around the stadium and a nearby park, but dragging my rollaway bag through gravel isn’t a good idea. I eventually picked it up for long stretches of the long walk.
– I’ve had no trouble getting help with my credential, my hotel check-in and other things I need. Perhaps it’s because a lot of people in Berlin speak English (though not my waitress last night or the impossibly cute housekeeper who just stopped by), or perhaps it’s because I pull off “helpless and friendly” well.
– I’m smitten with my hotel and surrounding neighborhood. Pictures are below — I’m off to the stadium for a series of press conferences.
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