Saturday, August 22, 2015

Day 9: IKEA

Old Routines
Back in Berlin, means back to home, means back to "old routines". Xander gets up and goes on computer. Venice sleeps in. I read updates in bed. Chris goes for a morning run. Breakfast is late. A nice lazy (for most of us) morning.

After breakfast, the kids weren't interested in accompanying us to the farmer's market (no surprise). Chris and I head out with our backpacks, bags, and cash. I ask Chris to allow me to lead the way, as I'm still trying to get the lay of the land here. For some reason, without an ocean, or mountain range, or something as my "marker", I'm having a hard time figuring out north, south, east, and west in my head.

Side story: When we were on the top of the Victory Column (located in the west), I overheard a funny conversation. As far as I could tell, it was a German couple taking an American couple around the city. The man from the American couple asked, "Is that east?", pointing to one direction. I was interested, since I had just wondered about directions myself. The German man replied with a knowing chuckle, "Of course. We Germans always know what direction the east is." Yes, implication received. One who lives in West Germany would always know that The Wall is to the east (and visa versa, I suppose).

Farmer's Market (or is it Farmers Market? or Farmers' Market?)
We arrived at the farmer's market and decided our best course would be to walk the entire length of it, and then buy items on the way back. So we perused the stands, figuring out which ones had better produce and what we'd buy for the week and tonight's dinner. At the end, we came across a meat stall with good looking sausages. We approached the woman behind the counter, Chris asking if she spoke English, she replied just a little. She motioned that between our German and her English, we'd be good.

Chris asked about the difference in the sausages. She searched for the words to explain and then just said, "here, fresh made this morning." The woman took a sausage out of the case, ripped the end off of it and pulled out some of the insides. She then put it towards us and motioned for us to take some and feel the insides. THEN she motioned to eat it... this is one of those cutlture times, right? When in Rome... but all of my instincts are telling me it's raw-white meat. Not only is it going to kill me, but I'm going to gag when eating raw meat. But, I can't be rude and say no. And you only have a split second to decide what to do and before you know it, you're eating raw sausage at a farmer's market. And actually, it tasted good (even if I'm going to die). This meat-woman also had us try the German ham (basically German prosciutto) and roast beef (that's what I'm calling it) and we bought it all. Danke!

Then onto homemade jams, fresh-made pasta, vegetables, fruit, baskets for our bathrooms (there are no cupboards in there) and all that we could carry home. I don't know the exact amount we paid for everything, but it was so much cheaper than our farmers market back home. Yummy for our tummies and our wallets.

After lunching on prosciutto, cheese, and bread (and a short cat-nap by me), we headed to Ikea. The kids' favourite place to go (sarcasm!) We promised our list was short and would only take an hour (foreshadowing again!)

We planned to take the U-Bahn there and either take it back again (if we could carry it all) or a taxi (if we bought bigger items or too many items).  We walked towards the U-Bahn station and had about 2 minutes to spare before our train would come. So we hastily attempted to buy tickets in time. Unfortunately, it would be over 10 Euros and the machine only took coins. We did not have enough coins. So we ran to the length of the platform, to the other end, and used the machine that took bills. BUT, there was a red light on the bill-intake part, and it wouldn't take our money. Doh! There went our train and we had no tickets.

We had to go back up to the street, to the big market, ask for change, and then head back down. Now that we had a few minutes to try again, we were more relaxed. As we were trying the coins we just acquired, I started to wonder if the machines were double-sided and if on one side it was coins only and the other bills and coins? Venice looked. Yes. Doh, again! We didn't have to run the length of the platform to try the other machine, and perhaps that first machine WOULD have taken our bills. Too late now, we have our coins, we have our tickets, we are set for the next train.

Your transportation ticket is good for all of the city's public transportations (U-Bahn, S-Bahn, M-trains, and Buses). After two stops on our U-Bahn, we get off and look for the M-train stop we needed. We think we get onto the correct M-train, go a few stops, and then think we might not be on the right one, so we get off, regroup and another train comes on a second track, which is the train we really want. Only it's tough to get to it, because there is a barrier between us and we'd either have to go way around the back or the front. But we see another man running across to make the train, we decide to try for it, we run, we make it on, it's the right train. We're good. And this train is slightly cooler (weak air conditioning) and up to date with digital displays, so it's easy to watch our progress along the stops.

And we finally make it. IKEA!

We begin our shopping with our short list, trying for one hour. Well, Venice decided she'd like a desk in her room (she was going back and forth with this idea), so we looked for the right (cheap) solution. Then we needed to figure out chairs. Then, we had to find the kitchenwares. Then the kids got hungry for a snack at the cafe. Then we had to find the items we chose within the warehouse. Then we had to get the frozen yogurt to use the coupons we got from ordering from the upstairs cafe.

Then we had to call a taxi (oh, yeah, too much stuff, too heavy, too big). Chris' first call (via phone app) for a taxi got canceled. The second one ended with lunch (Chris asked an arriving taxi if we could jump in, but the taxi driver said no, that he was hungry and going to eat). The third attempt (via phone app again) ended in a mix-up. We were about to put our items into the back of the taxi when a woman comes running up saying, "I think that's my taxi!" She showed her app (same as ours) with a license number and it was, indeed, her taxi. So, fourth taxi is a charm. Another 25 Eruo taxi ride (I guess we can consider this the "shipping fee" for our Ikea items) and we're home. I think we need to be done with taxis (it's adding up!)

Interesting fact: from door to door, it was a 4 hour excursion. I think about 1 hour of travel and 3 hours at Ikea. The kids' were right... somehow we always get sucked into a time warp within Ikea. Another interesting fact: Ikea, here, only takes cash. No Visa, no nadda. So, good thing we had enough cash!

End of the Day

For dinner, we cooked the fresh fettuccini from the Farmer's Market. The noodles were crazy long, which entertained us for a long time (saying, "May I have 1 more noodle, please?" because 1 noodle was a LOT of food).
Super duper long noodles
shower mitts
Well, something else had us laughing. At Ikea, one of the things we looked for were washcloths. Our family likes to use these as reusable napkins during meals. The thing is, it's hard to find washcloths here (at least for us). It seems there are big hand towels, but not really any washcloths that we could see. We finally found some at Ikea that are about twice the length of a washcloth we're used to, so we decided to buy some of those. There were sets of really bright colours, either blue, green, pink, etc. A few bins down, I picked up a pretty dark grey, which we figure would hide more mess! So, we got those. Perfect, right? Well, back at home, I take the tags off and start laughing. They are NOT washcloths that we know. They are shower-mitts, or I don't really know what else to call them They are sewn up the sides and fit like a puppet So, we had fun using these for our napkins while eating our extremely long noodles.

Something else funny? We don't have any tools and Ikea sells many items you have to build yourself! So, we tried to build the chairs we bought, but you need a phillips-head screwdriver and a wrench. We hand tightened what we could, but that can only do so much. And forget Venice's desk, that's still in its wrapper waiting until we can get to the hardware store to get a few simple tools!


No comments:

Post a Comment