"I am a donut."

Trip Start Jul 17, 2010
Trip End Aug 07, 2010

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Flag of Germany  ,
Sunday, July 18, 2010

From Cari:
Upon arrival in Dusseldorf at 715AM, I almost got held up in passport control for some reason. They had to type in my name into a computer. At security, they checked my purse and frisked me. I was feeling a bit flustered, which was only added to by the fact that the restroom was two floors up and tiny as can be (but four other women tried to squeeze in behind me).

I knew I was in Europe because, in the bathroom vending machine, I had my choice of three different types of erotic toys. I don't know if it is just me, but I am thinking that if you are so desperate that you are buying sex toys in an airport bathroom, you should really think about the direction you are headed in life.

At Gate 83A, there was a bus that took us to our plane which we boarded from the tarmac. At the gate, there were a number of French girls who looked like they were ready to go clubbing (and they all looked the same). Each was wearing black, some sort of jacket, and bright red lipstick. We called them the "Orgettes." It is an uninteresting story, and that is mainly for my reference, but the look of these girls was cracking me up (until I realized that if I added a little sparkle and a high heel, I would fit right in with the outfit I was in).  

We had double seats the tiny plane to Berlin Tegel, and that constituted Business class. It was a good flight, although uneventful. 

Arrived at Berlin Tegel around 945AM. We took a taxi from the airport to Hotel Adlon Kempinski. The taxi driver didn’t speak much English, but when Greg asked, “Was ist das?,” the driver ran with it. He kept pointing out monuments/sights and saying, “Was ist das?” The answers were usually in English: that is a train station, that is German parliament, that is Spree (the river), that is where you go on holiday (i.e. jail). He was a pretty good guy.

Our room wasn’t ready, so we left our bags with reception (where a nice German/Canadian girl assured us she would take good care of them), shed some peripheral things, freshened up in the bathroom, and headed out for the day.

On our way out, we stopped by the concierge to get some maps. He suggested we take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour, giving us a map for a very particular company. He also gave us a suggestion for dinner and upon us taking his offer, he told us he would take care of making reservations for us.

We headed for Brandenburg Gate, which, awesomely, was right outside our hotel. Once there, we looked for the signs for the tour the concierge had suggested. Instead, we got snagged by a lady for another tour (City Safari). She handed us a map and asked if we wanted to take a tour. She was there the whole time, so I didn’t have a lot of time to make a decision. We bought some tickets, but the more I compared the two maps, the more I realized that that tour didn’t go to one (and more) of the places we wanted to go. We boarded the bus, situated ourselves in seats on top, and, after a brief tiff between Greg and I about whether we should stay, Greg decided that we shouldn’t. I didn’t disagree at all. We found the tour we wanted to take, and I am thankful we did. It was the same price, so we did lose a little money, but it was a mistake that we needed to make in order to know that we needed Travel Rule Number 4: speak up if you do or do not want to do something before we commit.

We bought tickets from a guy wearing the same shirt as the picture on our map. We were trying to hide from the other lady during the entire transaction, but she kept moving. We pretended to read the sign for the Brandenburg Gate and we pretended to be taking pictures and, when the bus arrived, we made a beeline for it. We took the tour around to the main sights, only hopping off at one or two of the places. First, we got off at the Flohmarkt (Flea Market) to explore a little bit. It was like a huge yard sale where everyone was a professional in selling at yard sales. There was nothing particularly amazing to see or do there (a lot of junk you can buy in America), so we waited for the bus at the stop to continue on.

The bus we boarded at the Flea Market was really crowded, so we had to stand on the bottom floor and wait until the next stop (Schloss Charlottenburg). A lot of people got off at that stop, and we got really good seats up top and almost at the front of the bus.

We followed the stops around until the Jewish Museum, where we got off to find a currywurst. My guide book said that the best currywurst in the city was in that sector, but after twenty minutes of wandering, we decided to call it quits and head toward Checkpoint Charlie to catch the bus again.

We almost ate at a café near Checkpoint Charlie, but I wasn’t really feeling it. It was a good thing that we didn’t, too. After taking some pictures of the checkpoint, we crossed the street when Greg spotted a mini-semi in the shape of a currywurst. It turns out that one block down and one block over, the Currywurst Museum was serving up currywursts in the traditional Berlin style. It was basically a sausage drenched in a tomato sauce (similar to ketchup), sprinkled with curry (maybe some spice inside the sausage, as well), and served with bread roll. It was pretty tasty and even more enjoyable since good teamwork helped find it.

After the currywurst, we headed back to Checkpoint Charlie to catch the bus. We took it two stops (all the while Greg was dozing) to the East Side Gallery. This stretch of the Berlin Wall is that largest part still standing and is, simultaneously, the largest outdoor art gallery, where artists are free to paint their art directly on the wall. This was the main sight that our tour went to that others did not but that I really wanted to see. I enjoyed it. There was some interesting artwork. 

Getting off the bus was a challenge for Greg. He tried going down the stairs but the bus moved forward, seemingly throwing him down the stairs instead. The German guy behind us thought it was really funny. I knew he was laughing at Greg because I heard, “German, German, German, German…..OWW!” And then he giggled. It was pretty funny. Greg ended up with a mild battle wound.

We were going to stop at Museum Island to go to the ancient Greek and Babylonian Museum (Pergamonmuseum), but we were so tired that we opted to take a nap instead. We got off at the next stop near our hotel on Unter den Linden, one of the most famous streets in the city, known for being lined with the Linden trees. It was a pretty walk, and it put us back at our hotel relatively quickly. The only fun thing we saw worth mentioning on the walk was this man running while pushing a stroller. That wasn’t really funny; what was funny was the baby’s expression. She had no idea what was going on and looked really confused. 

Maurline, the German girl who lived in Canada for twelve years that we had met earlier, personally showed us around the hotel and brought us to our room. The elevator required a fob to activate it. It would have taken a while for us to have figured that out on our own.  She was really nice. We liked her, too. The view from our room was fantastic. 

We were going to nap for only an hour, but apparently if you don’t push the “do not disturb” button next to the bed that means the staff is free to move about the cabin. We were about 20 minutes into our nap when a doorbell rang, startled us, and ended with a woman standing in our room holding a bottle of champagne. We got chocolate and fruit, too, complementary, in celebration of our “wedding anniversary.” Greg was groggy and out of it when the woman asked if it was our wedding, so he said no, but the paper said his name, so we got the stuff anyway. We have decided to play along to see how much free stuff we can get. Another woman interrupted our nap ten minutes late with our dinner reservation. She finally taught us the disturb button trick. 

I turned off the alarm at the correct time, but the lights wouldn’t turn because Greg had accidentally hit the main switch at the door in his tiredness. Without the lights and with the blackout curtains pulled, it was really hard to wake up. We slept for twenty more minutes than planned, and, after I commented that we had overslept the alarm, we fell back asleep for another hour. 

We got up around 630PM, enjoyed the sparkling wine, showered, and got ready for dinner at Alpensruck, a modern/traditional German restaurant. 

A giant mob had seemingly congregated outside the front door of our hotel during our nap. Apparently, a celebrity was a guest of the hotel, but nobody would tell us who it was. I have decided to Google it when I remember.

We stopped to talk to the concierge (we liked him a lot, too) on our way out, and he walked us out and put us in a cab. The crowd clapped for us as we walked out. 

At Alpensruck, the food was great. We tried what the concierge recommended (the Wiener Schnitzel with German Potato Salad) and another dish that the waitress suggested (the Bavarian Ravioli). Both we delectable but the dishes were different enough that I couldn’t decide which was better. 

We caught a taxi back to the hotel. The mob was still there, so after we changed shoes, we walked over to the German Parliament but the line was really long to get in. Instead of waiting (because the information guy assured Greg we would not get in even if we waited), we walked down to the river Spree, around to Unter den Linden, back through the hotel, and out the back door (even though I almost stopped us because it looked like an alarm was going to go off). Instead, and employee came by, sized us up, pushed a button, and held open the door for us, assuring us that it was “just too simple.” we looked at the Jewish Memorial which was right across the street from the back of our hotel. It was a large block filled with stone slabs of varying height and following varying topography, creating sort of a maze effect.

After taking pictures, we went back around to the front of the hotel to look at the Brandenburg Gate all lit up for night

That’s pretty much everything we did, step by step. Auf Wiedersehen.

From Greg:

Was ist das? Das is un German parliament.

Currywursts... Hot dog, some tomato based sauce, and curry powder. We had ours from the currywursts museum and I must say that they were not entirely disappointing.

Europeans seem to like champagne around. It's pretty tasey too. The dinner of Schnitzel, ravioli, and whit beer was fantastic. Nothing outlandish, but nothing that you can eat in the states.

The Germans are really cool people. They're all really funny. Many people claim that German is a "dirty" language but so far I find it interesting. The words are pretty easy to say and oddly easy to remember. And if you don't know how to say it, they all speak enough English to sell you whatever it is that you're after.

That said, I haven't slept in 36 hours. Off to Prague in the morning. Auf Wiedersehen!
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