Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Day 13: Adventures

With Chris at work, I decided to take the kids to Alexanderplatz (we passed through the other day on our way to Ikea and I wanted to spend more time here) and the Holocaust Memorial (Chris has already been here briefly).

In the middle of Alexanderplatz (left) and throwing coins
into the Fountain of Friendship between People (right)
After regular life stuff (walking Chris to work, dying my roots - there are too many greys! - and breakfast), The kids and I walked to the U-Bahn station, bought tickets (kein problem, no problem this time!), and hopped on the first train. It's only two stops to Alexanderplatz, which is a big transport hub in the middle of the city. When we passed through, the other day, I had seen the big fountain (and thought it a fun place to have a snack) and the World Time Clock (which, to be honest, I knew nothing about other than I had seen it in TV shows and was a little star struck to see it :)

The fountain, I later found, is called the "Fountain of Friendship between Peoples". There is so much graffiti around the city, it feels like a part of it, accepted by all. It does create quite a colourful view. Sometimes, actually, quite pretty, other times, as expected, it can be not so great. The water in the fountain, however, is also "colourful" and looks quite icky (a cloudy chartreuse, yum).

We were a bit distracted watching the World Time Clock, as there were street performers right near it with a gathered crowd. And the kids were both starving, so we rushed the visit a little. So, I didn't even notice, until I got home and looked a photos, that there are different coloured numbers (time) on the clock (green and red). I can't seem to find an explanation for this. I thought, at first, AM versus PM, but other people's images on Google seem to show different colours all over. So, instead of 0-12 being AM and 12-24 being PM, perhaps it's who's physically in the "nighttime"? I don't know. All I do know is that I didn't notice while I was there.

Also, weirdly, it seemed to be an hour off. It says it's 5am in L.A. and 2pm in Berlin....
but it was 1pm in Berlin... maybe it doesn't observe daylight savings time, it didn't "jump back".
I ALSO didn't notice that the solar system on top makes a revolution every minute (according to the wikipedia page, this happens)... so damn. I guess I will want to go back and see it again. Should be easy since it's a transportation hub and we'll be passing though that area a lot.

Confession time. We ate lunch at KFC. I can't even claim the kids "forced" me. It did sound good, and I do like KFC a couple times a year. We were due. On both kids' bingo cards, is to eat American food not in America (or more specifically on Venice's bingo card, in Berlin). So, we can do this!

Similarities: Chicken tastes the same. Coleslaw (while cut in longer, thinner strips) tastes the same (I even brought the leftovers home, oh yeah, I'm enjoying it days later!)

Differences: French fries instead of mashed potatoes (much to our sadness). No biscuits (much to our sadness). And, the kids noticed the "buttons" on top of the soda lids were shaped differently and labeled slightly differently.

This is one of the first times (or is the very first?) I ordered food for the family without Chris, our front "speaker". So, I practiced in my head while we waited in line (zwei nummer sieben, zwei coke). It worked, she understood me, phew! Of course, then she asks something and I am left to give her a giant blank stare. I still haven't memorised how to say, "Ich verstehe nicht, I don't understand". Mental note, I must memorise this phrase. Along with the phrase, "Langsamer Bitte, slower please". In the meantime, I'm left to look blank and dumb. But she switches to English and asks, "blah blah spicy?" I couldn't catch what she said in the beginning. It's loud in there and she speaks so quickly. But I know I don't want spicy (is this original or spicy instead of original or crispy or is she saying spicy instead of crispy on accident? doesn't matter, we don't want either, just regular). "Nicht spicy," I reply and shake my head. "Blah blah ketchup?" I don't know what else she's asked in there, but I just nod and repeat, "Ja, ketchup." "Blah blah hier?" I'm pretty sure she's asking if we want take away or for here, so I say, "Hier". She seems good with my responses and begins filling our tray. Phew. Food ordered.

Side note: I don't think I mentioned, the other day at Ritter Sport, how I get along with using cash. It's very cash dominate here, very little use of credit cards. And when you do use a credit card, they all use the chip'n'pin style (more like a bank card where you put in a secret code), and they all kind of pause when they see our non-chip credit cards and think, ok, I guess we can do the signature. So I don't want to be a bother! So, I'm preferring to use cash.

The bills are ok, I can do that easily. But the coins are tougher for me for two reasons. The biggest reason is that I'm still learning which ones are which. And wrapping my mind around a 2 Eruo coin is hard. But the 2 Euro and the 1 Euro coin are the same size, but one has gold on the outside and silver on the inside, the other is flipped. Then, there are 50 Cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 2 cents, and 1 cent coins. They are all similar in colour but get smaller with denomination. The second problem for me is that they are all swimming around at the bottom of my money pocket, so I'm digging in there constantly, all the while panicking for holding anybody up. In calm situations, I do better. But when there is a line and I'm not understanding what they want, I panic, which doesn't help me identify what I need.

So, at Ritter Sport, it was a bit crazy, busy, so I just took all my change out and held my hand for the cashier. She took what she needed and replaced my change. Done. Fast. Danke. I'm a dumb tourist. Alles gut.

Look ma, we're tall!
After the yummiest KFC lunch, we headed out for one more glance at the fountain, and a 50 cent pit stop. We (Venice and I) are starting to measure our trips in pit stops. Today's excursion was a 50 cent day (really 1 Euro if you add ours together). And if we didn't get home soon, could have turned into a Euro day. Seriously, with everyone being so cash dominant and they want my coins, I feel like replying they are taking away my bathroom privileges, so no, you can't have exact change!

So, we entered the U-Bahn using a different staircase than we used coming out, so we had to weave our way through an underground maze of following U2 (our train) signs. All of a sudden, we came to this area that was super short. The ceiling was so low, I stopped. We took a photo to demonstrate how short it was. Venice, almost on flat feet, could touch the ceiling. Xander jumped and could touch the top. I can't imagine what tall people would feel like walking through here, all hunched over. Weird.

We took the U-Bahn to the stop for the Holocaust Memorial. I'm still so turned around, that when we got out of the bahn station, I misguided us in the wrong direction. So, a little extra walking for today. We turned around and found our destination, along with several tour buses.

Venice did a really nice writeup for our visit here. I don't have much to add. Just a few more photos.

Attempting a 360 photo, but only getting 270 degrees.


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