Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Berlin

Blasted German kezboards!

With some pushing and shoving, we made it to the taxi by 5 pm and to Schipol airport in plenty of time. After getting Annie´s and Cherie´s luggage checked in, we had plenty of time before our flight. Cherie was hoping to find a McDonald´s so she could have a "stroop waffel" McFlurry (pieces of treacly sweet waffles with caramel filling broken up in a McDonald´s milk shake), but no such luck. The airport sandwiches weren´t bad though.

A short flight later we were in Berlin. Much warmer and somewhat humid, we took the taxi to the hotel (City Apartment Guesthouse Berlin). Unlike the last two times I stayed here (in 2006 and 2007), now they wanted the entire amount in advance AND they no longer accept credit cards. I suppose the wire transfer for the deposit should have clued me in to that. We did not have the remaining 380 Euros. The clerk told us to put our stuff in our room and then go to the bank automat around the corner.

I´m not comfortable being confrontational, so Annie took over and spoke to the night manager, who then allowed us to pay the remaining balance by the next night (tonight). With that hurdle overcome, it was time to find something for Cherie to eat, as she was quite hungry. We went to Schall & Rauch next door, but Annie suggested the Tapas place next to that, but none of the menu choices were vegetarian. So back to S&R we went, only to find that the kitchen closed at 10:30, and it was now 10:45 pm. So then we headed back to the cafe in our pension where Cherie ordered the Greek farmer´s salad. A few minutes later the waiter came back to say that they were out of salads.

By that point, all I wanted was my beer. Cherie wanted every part of the menu item´s description translated, and I couldn´t remember all the words (e.g. for capers or cucumbers). It was enough, I thought, that I confirmed it was vegetarian. I became more and more agitated and decided to simply recuse myself from the discussion. I`ve always been a person who makes decisions quickly; I find agonizing over choices to be, well, agonizing. It´s alright, I suppose, when others do, but very painful for me when I have to be part of the process.

Cherie ended up with a salad caprese (sans ham), while Annie had an Erdbeerbowle (a kind of liquored up strawberry punch, quite good), while I was very happy with my large cold beer.

Feeling much more relaxed, we went for a stroll through the neighborhood at 11:30 pm. Annie and Cherie liked all the stores and cafes. There´s a big multi-plex cinema across the street, and Annie and Cherie ended up splitting some fresh pomme frites with mayo and ketchup at a dönner kebab stand by Schönhauser Alle S-bahn. Cherie was overjoyed to find an H&M department store just a block from the pension. Then it was back to the pension to sleep.

The arrangement of our rooms is not the best. Annie and Cherie are splitting the double bed. Their room fan whirrs pretty loudly and their windows open on to the courtyard where the recycling is (mine don´t open at all). The bathroom is pretty spacious for Europe though. I´m in the second room, which is long and narrow like a strangely shaped walk-in closet, with a sliding door separating it from the main room. I kept the overhead fan on all night to stay cool, but woke up pretty early anyway.

Today the expeceted high is 32 and partly cloudy. Once Cherie has breakfast, hopefully before the buffet closes in half an hour, we´ll go for bicycles. Tomorrow there´s a good chance of thunderstorms. Annie is really interested in the history of the wall, so I thought we might cycle along part of it´s route today (as well as the Tiergarten).

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