Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Day 54: Fernsehturm and Essentials

A few days ago we looked up information on the Fernsehturm. It was suggested that you buy tickets in advance and go early to beat the crowds. So we did. That means an early rise for this family on this morning. Out of bed, food down the hatch, run out the door.

You can see a typical digital board
for the trams and the orange trash
cans that are all over town.
Still, we missed the tram by 1 minute. We must wait 9 minutes for the next one. This is going to make it tight on timing. So you can imagine our delight when we look to the digital board to see that our next tram is delayed.

Side note: Smoking. Ugh. And here is a woman (see photo to the left) who is right by a trash can that also works for cigarettes (see the orange box?), but instead of putting it into the cigarette receptacle, she tosses it on the ground with the many other cigarette butts. I don't understand smokers. Ugh.

We busy ourselves by looking into alternate routes to get to the Fernsehturm, but all other routes could take just as long as waiting, or longer, due to the amount of walking. And all routes are only about 15-20 minutes. It's not far. We contemplate a taxi.... but then, phew, here's our tram. Now we might not need to worry how "stickler" they are about details like the timing on our tickets.

But now what? Moments after we got onto the tram, the polizei came through with their siren blaring. Our tram had to finish going through the intersection, but then pulled over for the polizei to whiz by. THEN, we got stuck behind a trash truck collecting several large trash containers. Since we're on a track, we can't go around. We just must wait and wait and wait.

Side note: I do see locals getting frustrated or giving dirty looks in traffic (like a car not stopping for a pedestrian or having to wait for a trash truck). But unless it's a dangerous manoeuvre (that's when they might beep or yell), they just roll their eyes and wait. Or just wait. I just don't see the amount of road rage as you do in the U.S. Of course, I'm a pedestrian here. But that's the feeling I get from here. It's not that people don't get frustrated, it's that they handle it in a manner of accepting it for what it is, a minor delay and then they go on their way.

Okay, we make it to the tower. And after all our crazy transportation problems, we are only 1 minute late.

One must go through security to go up the tower. Metal detectors and scanning of your belongings. We think the security officer running this morning's scans is NOT having the time of his life. Very loudly, very gruffly, he's repeating himself over and over, "YOU DO NOT NEED TO TAKE ANYTHING OUT OF YOUR BAGS. JUST OUT OF YOUR POCKETS. WE NEED TO LOOK INTO YOUR BAGS, OPEN YOUR BAGS. DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING OUT." Back and forth from German to English. The amount he is repeating himself lends us to believe that people are NOT complying. And, I have to laugh, I even took my phone out of my purse and put it separately. I could have left it in there... but I pretended it was in my pocket, then I'm cool and not one of those who doesn't understand to "LEAVE ITEMS IN YOUR BAGS, ONLY TAKE NEW PHONES OUT OF YOUR POCKETS."

Side note: There were two sides for security. One labeled group and "regular" the other labeled "preferred/early bird", or something like that. But, we found out the hard way (from Mr. Grumpy) that the early bird side was not open, we had to stand in line with everyone else. Ok. But then some poor elderly couple came up on the preferred side. The gentleman had trouble walking with his cane and was going very slowly up the stairs. Once he was at the top, Mr. Grumpy told the gentleman's wife that they had to go around into our lane. She started to explain (I'm guessing about her husband's walking ability) and Mr. Grumpy cut her off, "SECURITY IS FOR EVERYONE." and pointed to the back of our line. If only we could have allowed them to cut in front of us, but the ropes and barriers didn't make for an easy cross-over, plus, who knows what Mr. Grumpy would have said then!

Second side note: Mr. Grumpy confiscated someone's selfie-stick. They were to get it back upon leaving the tower, but they wouldn't take it up. They were very sad at this. Later we saw them up at the top, huddled around their phone, taking a selfie, while singing a song. I'm sure the video would have turned out MUCH better with the stick.

Our family successfully passed by Mr. Grumpy. Phew. Onto the elevator. I was secretly disappointed and simultaneously grateful that we did not have to climb steps to the top. No, we got to go on an elevator that moves at about 5m per second, which makes our trip to the observation area (at 203 m) about a 40 second trip. It was super quiet, super smooth. I mentioned this to Chris and he replied that he never felt any G forces. True! It was super smooth without lurching without making you feel "heavy", etc. My ears did pop a few times, but that was it. And, bonus, they installed a glass ceiling in half of the elevator's top, so you could see the cables and counter-weights as you went up and down.

Note: I think you can see the counter-weight on the left at the very end of this video:

It was a very overcast morning. We have had such luck with the weather and visibility. But that seems to have run out this morning. You could see, but not as far as I had hoped. You could barely see the Brandenburger Tor and only the gleaming top of the Victory Tower barely showed in the fog. Pictures didn't turn out as well as what our eyes could see, but I worked in Photoshop to "help" them along. When there is low light, iPhone photos turn out a bit blurry. Anyway, it was still cool to be up there and get a 360 degree view of the city (however, the kids were disappointed we decided to not eat up at the rotating restaurant... too pricey for foods that we didn't think the kids would like).

We spent about an hour up there reading the signs as we made our way around the entire observation area.

I tried to be in a few photos to show I "was there" but due to the overcast lighting,
this background could be anywhere. But really, I was up there, I swear.

The elevator going down shows two little red lights on the "tower", showing where the elevators are (left).
Looking up through the glass ceiling of the elevator while doing down (middle).
The kids showing how small the Space Needle is (less than 185 m) in comparison (right).

Buddy Bear in the gift shop.

Because it's Tuesday, Chris doesn't come home for dinner, so we decided to keep him company on his way from the tower to work. From there, we headed back home for showers (yay, the kids are clean! boo, Xander forgot to wash his hair!)

We decided to go to Fuki Sushi for lunch (because the name makes us giggle). I checked the tram schedule (I had a brilliant idea the other day and took a photo of the schedule at our stop so I could always know when a tram would come... this is online as well, but sometimes I find it and sometimes I can't, and this way, it's always with me). We had 4 minutes to get ourselves to the stop. We hustled into shoes and out the door and we could see the tram up the street at the previous stop. Not wanting to miss out like this morning, we ran for the tram. I bet we look like locals, rushing to catch our tram, right?  But, unlike a local who knows the city, we got off a stop too early, sort of. Doh. So, we had to walk a little (or wait another 9 minutes for the next tram). We chose to walk. It was only a couple of blocks.

Short story about this lunch. It was just a man and his wife (we're assuming) running the restaurant. So when we weren't ready to order, he took someone else's order and then went to help go make the meal. Instead of him coming back to take our order in a few minutes, we had to wait about 10 as he made the oder-to-go for someone else. Lesson learned. Hurry up and order or prepare to wait. Also, with this man, we ordered two Cokes and a Fanta. The Cokes came, but not the Fanta. I ordered that again. "What?" he asked. "Fanta," I replied (faeh-n-tuh) After a lot of pantomiming and pointing to the drink cabinet and saying, "Orange soda," he finally said, "Oh, Fanta, yes." (Faah-n-tuh) Oy!

The rain (sprinkle) has come again as we dined. And as we traveled to the Nespresso boutique (and yes, of course Ritter Sport for more chocolate), it continued to rain (sprinkle). And then at the market for some noodles and eggs, it rained some more (sprinkled). But, now we have the essentials; caffeine, chocolate, dinner.

A cosy night with the kids as we listened to the rain (sprinkles) all evening.

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