Sunday, August 16, 2015

Day 3: Sweat Boxes and Rain

First, I woke up around 4:30 and had some wicked insomnia. I was committed to getting back to sleep. I don't know how long it took me, but I did see the sky lightening and worried I was up for the day. However, next thing I know, I hear Chris around the corner and I ask what time it is... 10am! Wow. Nice to get all that sleep, and I definitely slept like a log once I fell back asleep. The bad news is I woke up on my back funny which led to my arms feeling numb and I definitely had an "off" feeling all morning, just feeling disorientated. I'm ready for jet lag to be over! Good news, we have to get up at 7 am tomorrow, so there's that. Not sure that information is pertinent, but just when we're sleeping in a little, we have to wake up to an alarm. More Murphy's Law.

Chris had gotten up and gone for a run. Great for him and his state of mind. Great for us as he did a lot of reconnaissance. He found the closer ATM, directions to some main areas, and just got a better feel for where we're located. He schooled me with a map in front to help pass along his discoveries.

TAXIs and THE 100 BUS
Breakfast was late. We sat around and chatted at the table. The we lunched and headed out after 2pm. We decided to ride the 100 Bus, a regular city bus that also doubles as a hop-on, hop-off tour of the city. You buy your bus ticket, get on the 100 bus, take it to a monument, hop-off, check it out, then hop back on and head to the next site.

Chris used a newly downloaded app to call a taxi. A taxi arrived in front of our apartment 6 minutes later. Nice! It was a "dry run" for tomorrow morning when we'll need at taxi at 7 am to take us to the airport. Chris asked the driver if it was easy to get a taxi and the driver said, "Oh yes, in Berlin, easy."

We got the starting point of the 100 Bus line (near the west end of the Tiergarten). Reminded me of Golden Gate Park in SF. I'm guessing it's similar to Central Park in NY, too. Lots of green space, lots of park areas to picnic, lots of walking paths, etc. Located at the other side of the Tiergarten is the aquarium and the zoo. And somewhere near there is where the 100 Bus line begins.

Of course, trying to hydrate, we are drinking a lot. Which means, as soon as the taxi drops us off, Venice and I need a restroom. We didn't see any public-pay toilets, to we went to McDonalds. Sigh. We hadn't set foot into one of these for over 5 years now, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. They had a bathroom with an attendant at the entrance. You tip her and she gives you a paper towel. Perhaps you'd get the towel anyway, but we'll tip, as it's the custom.

Buying bus tickets. (left)  Ducking so I can snap the KFC. (right)
Feeling better (other than using McD's), we got tickets and jumped on the first bus (or Sweat Box, as I like to call it) to come by (they come every 5 minutes.) Yes, we climbed to the top of the double-decker bus to get a better view. Yes it was over 85 F. Yes, it was humid. No there wasn't any air conditioning on the bus. Yes, we melted. No, we did not have a map to understand the route. So, yes, we jumped off the bus was sooner than planned and walked a little farther than expected. But, we got to see more of the Tiergarten than we expected (and more of a sunbathing man than we expected to!)

First tourist spot, Siegessäule, The Berliner Victory Column. Three Euros per person. To do it or not to do it? We did it. It was good. It was a LOT of stairs. We thought you could only go to the second floor (thus the ticket debate), but you can actually climb all the way to the top, to just underneath the golden woman at the top.
Xander photographing the Brandenburger Tor from the second floor (right). 
We went in and explored the exhibits on the main floor, then climbed to the second floor viewing area. We thought this was it. Nope! We then climbed the 285 steps to the top. The kids made it, but felt more comfortable heading back down to the second floor. Chris and I stayed at the top, circled it once, took a few photos, and then headed back down to meet the kids. Going down was much easier, but faster and more dizzifying.

Next stop was the Reichstag. But first, another sweat box ride on the 100 Bus. When we got to the bus stop, we realised Xander had misplaced his ticket. We let the first bus go by, it was too crowded. The second bus came and Chris asked the driver if he spoke English (he didn't), so we tried to say we lost the ticket, and wanted to buy another one. Chris showed him his receipt. Just blank stares or shoulder shrugs, so we got back off. Third bus, was right behind the second bus so it just drove by (darn it, maybe that bus driver spoke English!). But then we remembered our friends saying that they don't check tickets. You just want a ticket in case they check. So, we decided to just get on and pretend we had a fourth ticket. Boom. Done. No problem. And side note: Chris had showed his receipt to the Siegessäule and not his receipt from buying bus tickets. Perhaps that's why the bus driver was shrugging?

Anyway, phew, we made it to the Reichstag building.  Just in time for some lightening to start! Still, it was a very crowded place, everyone taking photos. VERY tourist filled. Took our own pictures and selfies, then a few drinks to hydrate. Then, we headed down the street to the next spot.

Next tourist spot was the Brandenburger Tor. Lots of photos here. More selfies (we saw many people with selfie sticks. maybe we were a little jealous.) The embassies are located here, on the East side. We found the USA embassy. I did have a fantasy of running up to the building and yelling for amnesty, or help, or whatever it is you yell when you're running from the enemy and want help from your consulate. I just took a photo instead.

At long last, Du Du, the sushi restaurant we've been dreaming about since Chris came home and told us about it. Du Du did not disappoint. Great food. Not quite normal sushi, but mostly in presentation (lots of food on top of the sushi instead of all rolled up inside.) Very tasty. Everyone left happy.

I did make a language blunder (not too bad) with the server. She asked if we liked the food, and I said, "schlecht", which means poor, bad. We're saying it all day, "Mein deutsch is sehr schlecht." Doh! I paused after she reminded me that it means bad, and I said, "Oh, no... schmeckt gut!" which means to taste good. Sigh. Xander kindly reminded me that this is one of my Bingo squares (to make an embarrassing blunder in German and survive!) Done!

Until we got outside and it was pouring down rain. A short debate of run for it, or take a taxi. Run for it. Or taxi. Well, we ran for it, for about 50 feet and then said, "TAXI!" We were drenched in a matter of 100 ft it took to get into the taxi. Once home, we were treated to a lot more thunder and lightning. One clapped super loud behind our apartment and made us all jump. Yikes!

We are the first renters here, so we're getting to discover all the fun intricacies here in the apartment. For example, the first time we ran the dishwasher, we ran it on ECO mode. Sounds good. However, it's a 2.5 hr cycle. I'm not sure how eco friendly that is. And, at some point during the cycle, the machine stopped and gave an error, "open faucet". Poked around, fiddled under the sink, and checked an on-line manual. The manual said to open the faucet and rerun the cycle, if the error comes up again, call the manufacturer! So, we tried turning the cold water valve under the sink, the error went away and ran it again. This time it was a success!

However, after unloading the dishwasher, there was another error. This one said to, "add dish salt." What? Back to the on-line manual. I guess you add dish salt to soften hard water to avoid calcium deposits. So, the dishwasher is out of commission until we get buy some dish salt. And, as you know, stores are closed on Sundays, so we'll wait until next week to get this (we're heading out tomorrow for a week.) Hand washing for now!

The refrigerator is the largest door.
Below it is the freezer
We are trying the washer-dryer for the first time tonight. Washing seemed easy. We are late into the evening, so we're just doing a quick wash. We're not dirty, just sweaty, right? But when trying to do the dryer, the display kept saying those programs weren't possible. After Googling the translations to be better than our best guesses, we decided it said to turn off the machine and back on. Done. Now we can pick a dryer setting.

As our friends, who lived here for 6 months warned us, it was very confusing. What setting do you try? The translations were permanent press and fluff dry, but fluff dry turned out to be something like steam press, so we obviously translated wrong there. And the "warm air" kept translating into "hot", but we chose that anyway. Only 30 minutes. After 60 minutes on hot air (plus a side step for the accidental steam), and the clothes were still damp, I gave up. They are now hanging to dry throughout our room. Onto the second load and trying to dry for 60 hot minutes. We'll see. It doesn't just dry, it sounds different at different times and I don't know what it's doing...

So far, we like our refrigerator, it's small, but works well.

The new Nespresso machine works great, too. Maybe too well. It's so easy. Might over do it on caffeine now.

We're packed and ready for tomorrow's early trip to Venice, Italy! We're going dark for the week. We're not taking any laptops, so no updates for a few days. We may figure something else out, but until we're back, Auf Wiedersehen!

1 comment:

  1. More wonderful are really a good writer...we feel the emotions, the fun, the frustration, the melting heat. almost heard the thunder!