Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Day 26: Lunch 'n' Park

A glass of water with "white" stuff.
I am noticing that our breakfasts are quick. Not luxurious as they are at home. I think Chris is never relaxing at breakfast, always thinking about starting his day for work. But the kids and I normally eat at our leisure, so it's new for me to feel like I have to eat quickly to keep up with Chris and be on our way. Xander sometimes joins us, other times he waits until I'm back or until lunch (because he's too busy to eat). Venice rarely joins us. She did a few times, to be social, but her tummy isn't ready to eat that early, so she'll eat/snack while we're walking to work.

Something else I've noticed, is that the water here really is "hard". Not only do we not care for the flavour (thanks again Brita!) but you can actually see floating white pieces of "something" in the water from the tap. If you don't use a towel to dry dishes, they will dry with white spots all over (the dishwasher is ok because we feed it tons of "rinsing agent" per the digital-display instructions). I can't imagine what the minerals are doing to the pipes that we can't see.

On our walk this morning, I confessed to Chris that I was too nervous to get our monthly Bahn tickets on my own. He nodded and said he understood, completely. Maybe this was all I needed (understanding) because I decided I was going to do it!

We were on our way to meet Chris for lunch and I thought about taking the train. I knew I wanted to explore Mauerpark after lunch and, while all the walking was "do-able", I thought the kids would have a more positive attitude towards my afternoon plans if we could ride trains instead of walking everywhere. BUT, I didn't have enough coins to buy tickets on the tram.

Side note: Chris and I downloaded the BVG app and have been buying our Bahn tickets via the app. VERY NICE! But, I can only buy for myself, I still have to physically buy the kids' tickets. We've also realised we've been overpaying for the kids. They are both under 15, so they get to pay reduced fairs. We've been paying correctly for a few days now, but even with that price, having to buy two is hard if you don't have exact change.

So, I decided, darn it, I was going to be brave and buy three monthly tickets for the kids and myself (Chris is still unsure if he wants/needs one but the kids and I seem to be using the public transportation a lot). The kids came with me. I walked into the same store, with the same lady, who doesn't speak any English, and asked to buy three monthly tickets. Ok, so what I did was point to my Google Translation that I had prepared and said the letters BVG. Side note: The German V sounds like the English F. So I said, "eff"... but they call it "fay"... it still worked. She did ask me one more question (damn it!) I didn't understand, she pointed to today's date on a receipt, and then I understood. Yes, starting from today (you can buy a month ticket from any day for a month, or on a calendar month) for a month. Three tickets. Done.

The kids and I then took a tram directly to Chris' office! It stops right across the street from his office. Wow! That was super easy and nice. Side note: Going back home isn't as easy, you have to walk either 4 min back a stop or 5 min ahead a stop, then you can take a tram directly to our apartment (nice!) So, taking a tram to work is better/easier than taking one home. However, going home, you get to ride up the hill, instead of walking up, and if it's cold or raining, it definitely will cut down on how wet you get.

Chicken and Beef tacos (Venice likes them!)
We had lunch with Chris, up the street from his office at a Mexican restaurant, "Tin Tan". They served street tacos and they were super yummy. Of course, the owner (or worker) is amazing in his multi-lingual talents. Speaking German to others, English to us, and Spanish, of course. Wow. Side note: The tortillas for the tacos were served in cute little (handmade?) warming-pouches.

The kids and I then took another train to Mauerpark for a lovely day in the park (see this post for photos). After the park, we decided to get ice cream. Side note: It seems that there is candy and cake and such. But it sure seems like ice cream is EVERYWHERE and you see someone eating it all the time. It sure seems like the go-to treat around here, so of course, we must join in.

Enjoying the main road through Mauerpark.

Crossing the street from Mauerpark to the ice cream shop is a bit tricky. There is a lot of traffic and no light. There is a crosswalk, but it's up to us to look out. We crossed to the middle island without any troubles. Looked left. Looked right. Waiting for the cars and bicycles in the street to pass by. Well, not one of us looked out for the bicycles on the sidewalk. Side note: The sidewalks are very wide and typically include a "bicycle lane". This lane is different in colour (red bricks instead of grey) and is clearly marked for bicycles. This lane isn't always there. Sometimes bicycles are just sharing the regular sidewalk with pedestrians. It all seems to work. Everyone looks out for everyone else and everyone seems to flow safely on their way. Except for those damn tourists forgetting to look! So, we were clear of street traffic (that included both cars and bicycles) that we thought we were good. We hustled across and someone behind us started yelling at us (a pedestrian), we looked back forward, and we almost crossed in front of three on-coming bicycles (in the red brick section of the sidewalk). CRAP! It stunk to get yelled at. It stunk to almost cause an accident. And it stunk to feel like we really did look but we really did miss seeing those bikes! Where did they come from?

The best ice cream (and not just
because there's a penguin on the cup!)
Shaken, but not deterred, we made it to the ice cream store. I started my conversation with our favourite line of having bad German. The clerk replied, "Doesn't matter," without any indication of amusement. He wasn't rude, but he wasn't warm either. Guess he's had too much ice cream. We order, pay, took a few bites, and got the heck out of dodge. I must say, my chocolate with peanuts was the best ice cream I've had in a while. Maybe it just felt good to have a treat after being yelled at :/

Guess what? We went to the market on the way home! Surprise!

Then we had a nice quiet evening. Skyping for the kids. Dinner for the three of us (Chris works late on Tuesdays so he can meet with the San Francisco office). A boardgame before bed.


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