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Monday, May 9, 2011

Arrival in Berlin

OK, to report on the flights: I had Economy Plus on the United flight from Chicago to Frankfurt. This gave extra legroom, just the way Economy should be. On the inside aisle, I still needed to get up for people in the middle seats. I ordered wine for both pre-dinner and dinner, making one credit card payment. Dinner: choice of chicken or pasta, I took the cannelloni. Maybe from too much wine, I didn't get much sleep. There was a bumpy landing. At the gate, after going through the jetway we needed to climb stairs, and there was a board listing just a few connecting flights, probably those that passengers on this flight had. We seemed to be mingling (that is, in the same area rather than segregated) with departing passengers for non-Schengen flights. The basic advice in Frankfurt is to know the gate numbers and follow the signs. With both my arriving and connecting flights in the A gates of Terminal 1, it meant going to one end of the concourse, clearing passport control, and going downstairs to the Schengen gates. I seemed to enter security in the same area as originating passengers. In my sleepless state, I didn't follow my routine of locking my wallet in my carry-on, I sounded the alarm, and got a pretty intense frisking; I'm supposed to be comforted that these agents are more professional than the TSA. I got to my gate for Berlin, and it went pretty efficiently on that flight, scheduled for 65 minutes, but 45 minutes in the air.

Arrival at Berlin Tegel: their design is something like Kansas City, but it works better, with baggage claim right at the gate. I had my plan to catch the city bus; looking at the map at the terminal, it looked like the bus stop wss just outside the hexagon of the terminal. I went there, and cars exited down a ramp with a narrow sidewalk; my instinct said not to try that. I went into the terminal and down a hall with another exit, where the bus stop was. For this day, I was going to get a day pass. I started to do it at a machine; the price of the pass was €6.30. I was starting to put in a €20 note, as I understood was possible, when a worker of the bus line pointed out that that machine took a masimum of €10. I had two crumpled €5 notes, which the man helped me get to work. There was also a staffed office where I could have done it.

I searched the itinerary in advance at www.bvg.de and, although there were other options, I kept to the one of taking the TXL bus to Brandenburger Tor, then the S-Bahn two stops to Oranienburger Tor. The TXL is named with the airport code but operates as a regular city bus, the airport being entirely within the city. The next stop is posted on a board, so I was helped there, but I would have recognized when the bus turned onto Unter den Linden; then I walked back to the S-Bahn, which still shows on some online maps as named Unter den Linden but is now named Brandenburger Tor; I could only see the gate in the distance. Two stops on that train, and I got to the apartment at 2 p.m., the earliest I said I would. The owner's wife checked me in; it is basically a cheap room with bath; it doesn't have a kitchen. It's a good deal in a nice area. The total cost was low enough that I could pay the cash balance with money left over from my last trip to Italy and some euros my mother gave me; I didn't need to stop at an ATM or get euros in advance at a bad rate.

I stopped at a sandwich shop nearby to get a small sandwich; then I figured I shoudl stop at an ATM. I walked a long time on major streets without finding one; I finally wound up at the main train station, the new Hauptbanhof; I only noticed the ATM in a side hallway when it reflected in the glass of the shop across.

Now it's getting too late in a long day to go into detail about the rest of the day: took bus 100 for a round trip of its length, going by major sites and ending in the central areas of the East and West parts of the city. I went up the TV tower and finally had a full dinner, a pork schnitzel, at Sophieneck. My apartment is in the former East, in a picturesque quiet area. Both parts of the city show a lot of postwar building, and one can contrast the development; I may go into this more later.

1 comment:

  1. Wow -- that's a pretty full day, Andrew! I look forward to hearing more; I really like Berlin.

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