Thursday, 11 July 2013

Day 21: BERLINnovation

Hallo meine Freunde, Hello from a train Hamburg-Copenhagen. You know what y'aaaaalll, last train ever!!! Am quite relieved tbf, no more stress with trains or reservations etc etc etc ahhh :) It's quite a funny train, once again, because it is obviously long distance (5h), but last I checked it had just three carriages! We are carriage number 82 out of 3, logical of course. Views are getting quite Scandinavian – soon I'm home!!!!

So, day 21, yesterday: We woke up at Wiesbaden, chez T and K. We had a lovely breakfast of German rolls, and T made us packed lunches. (“Do you want this salami or this salami?” she asked CC, offering two different types. “I'd like that salami,” replies CC, pointing to the strawberry jam.) She then took us to the station for the 9.32 train to Berlin! (From Frankfurt to Berlin in every disco I get in... hope you know the song by now)
Ready for our packed lunch à la T om nom
Tho woulda loved to stay at T&K's longer, we had to get a relatively early train because we wouldn't have that much time in Berlin – just the afternoon and the following morning. Our train would get in just before 3pm, we'd take the metro and bus to the hotel, then ideally be free to explore by 4pm.


After we'd finally figured out
a) which floor the S-Bahn (Berlin's metro-equivalent) was leaving from
b) where to find ticket machines and
c) where to find a working ticket machine, the ticket machine took our money. We put in five euros, and it never gave anything back – neither tickets nor money.
Possibly the place we spent most time in Berlin - the TRAIN STATION <3
So, I went down again to queue for the S-Bahn customer service. The bored lady behind the desk informed me that there is an official guy up on the platform who I need to talk to about machines eating money. So I went back up to search for this guy. I went round the platform several times – no one official. There was one small 'building' at the end of the platform but all the lights were off and in any case there was only one tiny, locked door which clearly wasn't meant for the public to go through.

Frustrated, I went back down to talk to the bored lady. The bored lady told me that he's in the little building on the platform. “But there's no one there,” I told her. She half-smiled at me, half-exasperated, half-probably-pitying-this-stupid-tourist: “Yes there is, you must ring the buzzer.”

Fine, ok. So I went back up to the platform, circled the dodgy building again, then went over to press the button next to the tiny door, fellow passengers looking suspiciously at me. Surprisingly, there was a buzz and the door opened. So I tiptoed into this dark room, very aware of the door locking behind me and even more aware of the ideal location of rape or murder this would be...

Inside the room there was an older German man watching all the surveillance cameras. I told him in slow English about the ticket machine, after which he spent at least five minutes facing away from me, making phone calls in German – many of them sounded plainly amical, not businessy, but maybe that's me just used to the French :P Anyways, after a while he gave me a sort of form to fill in, where he had written a few numbers. I was supposed to take it back to the bored lady at customer service.

Hoping I wasn't meant to fill in this completely German-two-paged form before talking to the bored lady, I went back. And, surprisingly, all went well. She filled in stuff, and then voilà I got a fresh 5euro-note. I even got a small good-natured laugh out of the Bored Lady when she asked me at the end, “So, would you like to buy a ticket?”

Ok, cool. So we got the ticket, got the metro then the double-decker bus to our hotel. It was about 4.30ish. So, as I mentioned earlier, I was a bit unsure about the hotel reservation – it's a proper hotel, 4 stars, and the only reason we could afford it was because I came across a special offer on a Finnish Top 10 Travel Offers-fb-page – two people, one night, 79,95 (including brekkie), usually 205euros. And since it wasn't through the hotel itself, I was very aware problems may arise...
So we got to the posh reception (I had purposefully worn one of my only dresses plus also sacrificed my feet into wearing flats to seem more four-star-hotel-guest-worthy than short shorts and dirty trainers), and the lady informed us very friendlily, politely and worried for us, that she can't find a reservation. She went looking for it, didn't find it. Finally she let us use the internet to find my confirmation e-mail, which we then printed out for her. After which she disappeared for a while, came back and gave us a room, hurrah! Apologising too.

THAT is customer service. I am 95% sure it was my fault – I had not finished the booking. I had everything confirmed but hadn't made an actual official booking with the hotel itself? Or something... But still, it was her apologising. Brilliant start.
Our room - bed sheets were smooth tho
Check out the personal greeting ;)
Our hotel room was cool with a big TV showing superexciting movie trailers, I also had a nap, and finally we left the hotel to explore at about 6.30pm.

I LOVE BERLIN. We were near the big Tiersgarden, a huge park with actually normal roads going thru it. We went to see the Siegessäule, a victory monument, then the Brandenburg Tour via a Soviet Union war memorial with exciting tanks.
Soviet war memorial
Brandenburg Tour
The Brandenburg Tour itself isn't THAT impressive, but I liked how big a touristy thing it was – in front of it there were, for example, two guys dressed as military officers from the war, with German and American flags – you could get your pic with them.

We were hungry though, and found the BEST RESTAURANT EVER, may even beat Coyote Café in Heidelberg, except customer service wasn't the amazingest even tho our waiter's name badge said McGyver.
Mine was called "3 classics", and both plates were part of it
 We walked back a different way, discovered some art...
Look forward to the multi-us pic coming up!
 Then past the epic modern Sony Centre, the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame', Legoland Centre... After you've walked past one impressive monument/cool bit of art/exciting bulding/historic site, there's always the next right on its way. Loved it.
Some of the modern bit of Berlin
Sony centre!!
Lego giraffe

Berlin, you are amazing.

Tschüss (still wondering if I'm spelling that right)
PS. Title is unfortunately not my own brainwork – the Berlin Hotel leaflet is full of word plays like that – Berlinnovation, Berlindividual etc. BRILLIANT.


  1. You two look still so fresh after 21 days! See you tomorrow! <3 And patience is such a good character trait - thinking of you, Emma-Liisa, and the Bored Lady. x

  2. But the "Hallo meine Freunde" was presumably your own brainwork and it sounds like fluent German. Trust the last bit of your journey goes well tomorrow!

  3. You look absolutely gorgeous! You look pretty ok too Em hahaha.

    Are you sure it wasn't CC who accidentally ate the 5euro note?