Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day 34: Shopping

On this morning's quick market run, I almost went home with other people's groceries. The little market by us does not have enough "separaters" to place on the conveyor belt between different shopper's items. I didn't grab one to put behind my items and the person behind me didn't grab one either. So, when I was busy putting items into my backpack (a job the kids usually help me with, but I was alone) I grabbed something that wasn't mine. I looked up, started saying, "Nein!" and pushing those items back. The cashier took them off my ticket and THEN the woman behind me looked up and said, "Oh sorry!" Side note: I hear "sorry" a lot more than I hear "entschuldigung" or "es tut mir leid". Anyway, not much of a story but it is doesn't help alleviate my fears of going to the market. On the other hand, I went alone today and I survived.

Can you spot the (albeit blurry) wasp on the window (top) to the
right of the traffic light? Damn pesky thing.
Sushi lunch (bottom-left) and Soda, always delivered in a
glass bottle with and empty glass (right)
The kids and I went to a sushi restaurant near Alexanderplatz. After being seated along with menus, the waiter came to take our order (we only just opened the menus!) He said something.... I couldn't understand him... finally I thought to say, "Nicht fertig" (not ready). He repeated it and said, "5 Minuten?" Mixing the English "5" and the German "Minuten". Germnglish? And, no pressure, but I swear he came back in 3 Minuten. Good thing we were ready.

The sushi was pretty tasty. So much that the darn wasps came back. We were sitting inside. And, we haven't seen the wasps for a few days. I thought they were gone due to the cooler weather. Well, a few stayed back with the sole purpose to pester us.

I waved it away several times, but it wouldn't go far and kept buzzing around our heads. Xander popped up and out of his seat, standing behind us. Venice was on the edge of her seat. I was waving constantly trying to get the dang thing to leave. The waiter spotted our spectacle and came over with a napkin, trapped it on the glass, and "took care of it".  Bonus points for our waiter! The kids relaxed and we enjoyed the rest of our lunch... for about 5 seconds... another wasp found us! OMG. Time for the bill. Stupid wasps.

Across the street from lunch is The Galleria. I wasn't sure I would be able to find this store, which has been recommended by Chris' coworkers as a good place to go for different items. Google maps gave an address of Tunnel Alexanderplatz. With this information, I assumed the store was underground in one of those short-ceilinged tunnels we like walking through from U-Bahn to S-Bahn. But, it became clear that The Galleria is a giant department store, 5 stories high! Think Macy's or JC Pennys. Only, there's a whole food market on the first floor (next to the MAC makeup and purses). Of course, the door we walk in is right by the rows and rows of bin candy. I told the kids to put on blinders. We are here for shoes (for me for Oktoberfest) and not for candy. But I sense we'll be back to get candy there someday soon. The first row we saw had tons of different Jelly Belly looking beans.

I had looked online for shoes for Oktoberfest. I found a few shoes online, but either they ddin't offer Amazon Prime, or they were super expensive and I don't want to pay that much for a shoe I may or may not wear again. But how to know what stores to go to for browsing? I don't have the energy to look all around, so the The Galleria seemed like a good compromise, they should have at least something, and probably something with a reasonable price.

Ein großes Bier und ein großer Bär
Before finding the shoe area, I found a pair of sunglasses (yay! Mine have horrible scratches and I haven't been able to see out of them for months) and Venice and I found cute little purses for Oktoberfest (we must have an "authentic" looking purse, you know). We went to the cashier to pay, but she indicated (as far as I could tell) that I had to buy the sunglasses from the "sunglasses cashier". Ok. We went to the "sunglasses cashier' and no one was there. We waited. And waited. I went to another desk, thinking maybe this is the counter she meant. But the woman there called on another woman to take us back to the "sunglasses counter". Sigh. However, she got a case for the sunglasses, clipped the security tag off, and did other things, so I guess you really do need to go to the "sunglasses cashier".

Side note: I am getting good and just ignoring when they talk to me in German. Maybe I come off as rude, but I figure, unless they're asking me something, I'm ok just pretending they didn't say anything. In this way, I am able to do the entire transaction in German. Ha!

Now, for the real reason we're here, shoes! I never did find what floor shoes were on, because I looked out the door and saw the store Reno across the alley. Reno is one of the places online I saw that had a decent selection of shoes. And when you look into the store, you see that it's "help yourself" with boxes lined up under the sample shoe. Perfect for someone who doesn't want pressure from a salesperson and who doesn't speak the language!

Side note: Other than the gentleman in Prague wanting us to buy his ginger bread, I feel that the sales force here could care less if you bought from them or not. You want the shoes? Ok. You don't? Ok. I haven't felt any high pressure from anyone here yet. So there's that.

Xander enjoying (for real!) a capuccino. 
Still, I like the idea of helping myself with the shoes. The kids helped me search and we found a few pairs that were ok contenders. Venice liked the ones with "bling" on the toes... I hesitated and then decided, why not? The popular style shoe for Oktoberfest is a black-rounded-toe-mary-jane styled shoe. This one, that Venice found, is that but with a few sparkles added on the toe area. A little more interesting? The cashier asked if I wanted the box? Um... nein! So, I didn't take the box and got to carry a little less around town. Thanks!

Our next errand is VERY important. Nespresso Boutique. After purchasing 80 shots of espresso (8 boxes of 10) for less than €35, we went to their café counter for their complimentary espressos. The kids wanted to try the two new flavours, so we got them cappuccino-style. I could barely tell the difference, but we decided we liked one more than the other. So much so, Xander drank the rest of it! He said he liked it better than some hot chocolates! Between this and the Cokes the kids have been drinking... they're definitely coming back with an addiction to caffeine. Bad parenting.

And I couldn't go to Nespresso without going back to Ritter Sport, I mean, it's a half of a block away. Right?

This time we explored the floor upstairs that has information on how chocolate is harvested from cacao beans, processed into chocolate, and then to the end packaging process. We have studied chocolate a lot in the last few years, so it was all familiar to the kids. But they had fun pushing all the buttons anyway (they always like the buttons!)

Checking out the information about cacao beans (left)
Venice is all "smiles in the colourful Chocowolrd Berlin" (middle)
Another large bear! (right)
A cool underground U-Bahn hallway.
On the way home, we decided to take a train we knew didn't go to our stop and that we'd figure out where and how to transfer once inside the station. Now that we have a monthly pass, it's fun to just ride when and where we want. So, down we went. I love how these explorations show us something we wouldn't expect. We got to see a different style underground-hallway, which was cool. We also passed by a musician playing lots of fun music on the accordion (we donated €1) that we wouldn't have heard if we didn't go that way.

The bad news is that it was warm and humid today. As a result, the trains were stuffy with motionless air (you may translate this to "sweat box").

After a nice rest at home, we left to met Chris for dinner at Shiso Burger. Guess what? It's raining! But, we are prepared with an umbrella (thanks for Venice for carrying it) and waterproof jackets. Chris found us on a corner (after several texts of coordinating) and we all walked the last few blocks together. Well, due to the rain, there were 5 tables less (because no outside dining), but we were lucky, one table just cleared up and they said we could use it if we only took one hour for our meal (someone else needed it for a reservation in one hour). No problem!

Two Twisted Potatoes
Who would have thought you needed a reservation for a burger joint? I guess we've been warned, but we've still be lucky. As long as we sit down before 7-7:30pm, it seems to be no problem. We don't understand all the families showing up for dinner around 8pm. I don't know how the kids do it? Maybe they've already done their homework, maybe they don't have it. Maybe they love getting up early after a late night of mom and dad eating for hours?

The food was excellent. And we got three different types of fries. Regular fries, sweet potato fries, and an order of "Two Twisted Potatoes". Oh yeah! We has seen someone eating these in Prague and were wondering about them. Yay, we get to try them. They are a single potato, spiral cut and fried on a stick. Fun!

We finished before our hour was up. Phew. The rain had subsided, so our way home was dry. And to top off a great evening, we were able to finally finish the book we're reading out-loud (Ready Player One) to all of our excitement.

P.S. Remember how my throat hurt in Prague? Well, the morning after I garggled with nasal rinse, my throat was miraculously cured! Was it the rinse? Did it run its course? Was it just an injury that healed (like a scratch)? Whatever, it's better. Yay me! Bad news, however, Xander now has the sniffles and Venice says her throat is a little sore. I was really hoping that none of us would get sick on this trip. I don't want to figure out the Apotheke (pharmacy) stores or find the Krankenhaus (hostpital) Crossing fingers.

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