Print Story Ich liebe Berlin
By hulver (Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 11:08:02 AM EST) (all tags)
An upbeat Berlin diary!

So the short version.

Berlin was great. I loved it, but I really need to learn German.

The long version.

ReboundRabbit and I were flying out to Berlin first thing on Saturday morning. Flying from Leeds, to Berlin via Amsterdam.

Leeds / Bradford airport was interesting. I went to drop RR off at the front of the airport before parking the car, and they actually charge you just to drop people off now. £2, to drive to the front (or rather, about a mile from the front of the airport, you can't get any closer because of Glasgow) and the drive off again.

We were flying with KLM, as it was the cheapest price we could find online. Easyjet might have had a slightly cheaper flight cost, but getting to Luton at that time in the morning would have cost us a fortune. Flying with a proper airline also meant that we got a cup of tea and some biscuits on the plane as well.

Checking in was easy, and I'd paid extra for a "FastTrack" through security when I booked the car park. That was a bit of a laugh, at least we were able to walk straight past the completely empty "non-fasttrack" area and have a chat with the grinning security guard. "You didn't pay for this did you?" He asked us. Oh well. It was a slightly shorter walk :)

The first flight was great. A little Focker F70. I've never been on one before. A bit noisy, but the flight was only 50 minutes so it didn't matter that much.

I'd never realised before how big Amsterdam airport is. It's huge. We wondered around for a bit and went to meet one of RR's friends who's in Amsterdam at the moment. She'd cycled over on her bike, so after an expensive coffee we went over to have a look at it. A lovely old Raleigh with down tube shifters. She let me have a little ride around the car park, just so I could say that I'd ridden a bike in (almost) Amsterdam.

The wait was quite long, but passed quite quickly, before we were boarding a 737 for the flight to Berlin. A little over an hour, and we were there. In freezing cold, wet Berlin. :D

Of course, I'd been listening for weeks to "Look at the temperature in Berlin, it's 30 degrees!", and I'd quite failed to take in the "Oh, it's going to be 12 degrees and raining next week" that I'd not packed anything other than T-Shirts. Not even a jacket.

RR's wonderful friends, who picked us up in a big old Merc with their tiny baby in tow, took us to a big shopping place, and I made my first Berlin purchase! A rain coat. :)

We then trecked through the howling wind and lashing rain to a brewery / restaurant, where we were meeting some more friends who'd been over and seen us in England a few weeks before. The food was OK, although my Schnitzel was a bit dry. The beer was good, and the company was fantastic. They all spoke English around me (with occasional lapses into excited German for baby talk, the other friend being quite pregnant) which made me feel welcome, but a little ashamed that this group of 5 people was speaking my language to make me feel welcome in their country.

We'd planned to spend the next day cycling around Berlin after meeting BadDoggie and Sugarspun. This wasn't looking good though. I don't mind getting wet, but wet and wind is a bit too much.

However, after a good natter, a good nights sleep on a fold out bed, the weather looked grey, a bit damp, but not windy.

We met BadDoggie, Sugarspun and MNP for Brunch at a Cafe RR loved when she was studying at the University over the road. Interesting Chat, MNP is fun, and it was great to meet Sugarspun and Catch up with BadDoggie again. He bunged me some money for server up keep, and paid for the brunch as well. Many thanks, it's much appreciated.

Then we all had a wander back towards the zoo, where the Doggies went off in search of something interesting to do, hopefully without getting wet, and we went off to hire our bikes.

Fantastic bikes they were too. Big fat tyres, laid back riding position. Just right for pootling around Berlin looking at the sights. We rode through a park (that I've forgotten the name of), and I stepped behind a bush to get changed into some shorts I'd brought along. I only had one pair of trousers and with the rain (that started again 30 seconds after we got on the bikes) I didn't want to get them soaking wet. I was winked at by a passing rather buff looking young man. RR then told me that this was a fairly notorious place for rent boys :)

Shorts on (in the rain) we rode off to meet another of RR's friends at the main station, passing the Reichstag and Angela Merkel's place. More coffee (and cake of course, we were on bikes) at a nice restaurant.

Then more peddling around Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie (where we bought an impressive array of tatty gifts for people), the victory column, back through the park to the Zoo. Where we returned the bikes, and got on a bus that took us past all the same places again :)

Cycling around Berlin was the highlight of the holiday for me. I found Berlin fantastic to cycle around. It might be a bit frustrating if you're trying to get somewhere quickly, I didn't know the road network well enough to comment on that, but for pootling around looking at stuff, it's the best place I've been to so far.

Curry in the evening, which RR told me would be quite different from a UK curry, but the dish I ordered seemed fairly similar.

The next day we were off. We said fair well to our fantastic hosts, and went off into the city on the U-Bahn. One of the trains we caught was very unusual (compared to the London Underground, the only subway I've got to compare against). There were no doors between the carriges. It was like one giant bendy bus. You could stand at one end of the train, and see the other end a long way away, moving about as the train went around corners. It was fantastic.

We stopped for a rather disappointing lunch at RR's cafe again (it's gone down hill since she used to go there) and then after buying a birthday gift for D2, went to the University by bus so she could give her Thesis defence.

The day went a bit weird at that point. We got to the room, and got everything set up. One of her professors turned up, but the other was no where to be found. Then RR's Mum appeared out of nowhere. The other professor hadn't turned up, and nobody could contact him. So the first professor went a grabbed another passing professor and made him view the presentation as well.

RR did a fantastic presentation (in English). Unfortunately, the second professors English wasn't that good, so he started asking his questions at the end in German, so for the next 20 minutes I understood very little of what was said.

Then we were kicked out of the room while the professors discussed things, and RR was brought back in on her own for a while. Result, she passed, very well. They brought up one point which she completely disagreed with, they said that she didn't use "free speech", and they thought she was reading from notes. Although she wasn't. It was all from her memory and knowledge of the subject.
Oh well, no point arguing now.

We then spoke more with RR and her Mum before the drive back to RR's home town. 100+mph down the auto-bahn. :S

I met RR's grannie, we had a simple meal together. They're all really nice people.

The next morning after breakfast we went shopping for all sorts of stuff. Spending nearly 80 euros on chocolate, booze and pudding mix :)

Our suitcase was heavier on the way back than on the way there.

After a delicious meal of really good Schnitzel (cooked by RR's grannie) and white asparagus, which is big in Germany but I've never had before, we were off to the train station to get on the train back to Berlin.

A double decker train! Of course we had to sit upstairs. The country side is like a very flat England. Very similar, although with more wood.

A bus to the airport, and then a (slightly late) 737 back to Amsterdam. We were still in plenty of time to catch our connecting flight back to Leeds. The plane to Leeds wasn't very full, so we got to switch seats to some very comfy ones right at the back. Ok, it was right next to the Engines, but the leg room was great.

Home again.

I loved Berlin. The transport system was great (although not pushchair friendly), the people I met were fantastic. Cycling was brilliant.

+1 would do again.

So now I've met the "in-laws", RR's mum is visiting at the end of the month, and she'll be meeting my parents :)

< not a big Royal family watcher | So where was I? >
Ich liebe Berlin | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden)
I had a fantastic time. by ReboundRabbit (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 11:21:29 AM EST
I really did. Though the pressure of that damn presentation (and I DID use free speech!!!!!) was a bit of a burden in my neck.... My friends loved you, and I realized again how lucky I am - with them and with you.
I love Berlin, no matter what weather, but if the weather is shitty as it has been, it's not good for showing off to tourists. We have to go back again... so I can show you more... And the park, btw, was called Tiergarten. The biggest park we have in Berlin.

Optional activity: Standing around and enjoying life. -- Jan Gehl (Architect)

why would this be under question? by garlic (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 11:28:34 AM EST
Seems like it should be easy to tell if someone's reading from prepared remarks, vs going off of memory -- or did they think you memorized the presentation ahead of time?

[ Parent ]
Heh by hulver (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 11:35:59 AM EST
They said that she was reading from the computer screen all the time.

The computer, that was connected up to the projector, which was showing on the big screen in front of them exactly what she was seeing.

Which was slides, showing images, without text on them.
Cheese is not a hat. - clock

[ Parent ]
I have no idea. by ReboundRabbit (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 11:36:59 AM EST
They said, well... being not really computer experts I assume, that I had tons of notes on my screen, while they see the pure presentation on the wall behind me. No idea if that could work, but point is, I saw exactly they same as everybody the same. Since I had lots of pictures I looked down on them while explaining and moving the pointer around on them. All the other time I was looking at them... saw their concentrated faces (well, the other seem not really do understand all of what I was saying)... I think, that since I have become a bit more fluent in English, they thought I can't be that good in free speech as a German. Don't know. No matter what critiques they had on the scientific part... THAT critique just hurt me personal. Holding a presentation, in English, under that pressure...after all that chaos with not showing up of professors... I thought I was doing as good as never before.

Optional activity: Standing around and enjoying life. -- Jan Gehl (Architect)

[ Parent ]
On the other hand by yankeehack (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 12:14:10 PM EST
it seems like they had to pick on you for something, so your delivery (not the facts) was it. You'll laugh about this in no time.

And Congratulations! :)
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

[ Parent ]
Thank you :-) by ReboundRabbit (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 12:16:09 PM EST
I am glad it is over.

Optional activity: Standing around and enjoying life. -- Jan Gehl (Architect)

[ Parent ]
Yeah, by ni (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 12:56:31 PM EST
Powerpoint does allow you to do this, although I can't remember what option you use to get the independent displays.

Sorry to hear they were confused, though. You'd think they could have just, you know, taken a look.

"These days it seems like sometimes dreams of Italian hyper-gonadism are all a man's got to keep him going." -- CRwM

[ Parent ]
Grunewald's bigger. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 04:59:52 PM EST
Great place for a run.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Grunewald is a forest not a park. by ReboundRabbit (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 02:55:59 AM EST
But great for recreation yes.
Optional activity: Standing around and enjoying life. -- Jan Gehl (Architect)

[ Parent ]
a fairly notorious place for rent boys by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #3 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 11:33:54 AM EST
I didn't know you had family value Republicans in Europe.

Checkpoint Charlie, you say? by BadDoggie (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 12:26:04 PM EST
Mildly Naughty Puppy shelters from the rain


Jesus Christ you're a tool -- Dr Thrustgood

But! by hulver (4.00 / 1) #9 Wed Jul 06, 2011 at 12:32:02 PM EST
She's awake!

Cheese is not a hat. - clock

[ Parent ]
The monsoon rattling her rain cover by sugar spun (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 09:48:25 AM EST
woke her up.

What you can't see is that I have been cropped out of that picture at my request because I was half-drowned, rain-blind and truly horrible looking.

[ Parent ]
Your arm by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #14 Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 10:32:06 AM EST
looks very wet

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
I could remove the arm by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #15 Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 11:36:03 AM EST
I didn't bother 'shopping the photo, but removing the arm would be child's play, and I like the composition as you see it here. It was very wet and rainydownpoury.


Jesus Christ you're a tool -- Dr Thrustgood

[ Parent ]
I had to wring out by sugar spun (2.00 / 0) #20 Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 07:29:17 AM EST
my waterproof jacket.

[ Parent ]
did you hit the McCafe after taking this photo? by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 01:20:52 PM EST

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
Fuck you. by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #17 Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 08:15:31 PM EST
McCafe? We'd sooner lick the fucking floor in the train station. After pulling the rain cover back down over MNP, sugarspun and I got soaked as we traipsed over to the stupid fucking Currywurst "Museum". We had Vietnamese noms later to make up for it.


Jesus Christ you're a tool -- Dr Thrustgood

[ Parent ]
I think their coffee's fine. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #21 Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 12:09:54 PM EST
Also, cheaper than the far worse stuff at most coffee chains.

[ Parent ]
You can use the loo by ReboundRabbit (2.00 / 0) #22 Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 05:21:40 PM EST
and no-one is asking... That's a good thing.

Optional activity: Standing around and enjoying life. -- Jan Gehl (Architect)

[ Parent ]
dooooomed! by wiredog (4.00 / 3) #18 Thu Jul 07, 2011 at 09:33:02 PM EST
To what, I'm not saying. But. Looking forward to engagement pics.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Ehhhh. ;-) by ReboundRabbit (2.00 / 0) #19 Fri Jul 08, 2011 at 04:45:58 AM EST

Optional activity: Standing around and enjoying life. -- Jan Gehl (Architect)

[ Parent ]
Double decker trains. by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #23 Thu Jul 14, 2011 at 12:56:18 PM EST
I think about them with longing  every single time I board a train in the UK....

Ich liebe Berlin | 23 comments (23 topical, 0 hidden)