Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 69: Otto Lilienthal's Fliegeberg

Postal service bicycle.
I know I sound like a broken record when mentioning the bicycles. But, here's one more observation: Postal workers use bicycles to deliver the mail. Not only is it cool that they use bicycles instead of cars (carbon footprint and all), but they leave it on the sidewalk when delivering. So, once again, there's an amount of trust and safety here in Berlin. They know no one is going to steal the mail. People are raised to follow the rules. People self-govern themselves very well, therefore, the police presence is minimal. I do like this aspect a lot. Chris has heard of two stories from coworkers who have had their cell phones stolen in London, while they were talking on them! In one instance it was a person on a motorcycle, and in another, the person was on a bicycle. I guess they wait for you to be talking on your phone (vulnerable and the phone is presumably unlocked?) and the drive up to you and just snag it away. I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous to visit there now. I will definitely be more aware of my surroundings and holding tight to my phone. And hearing these stories makes me grateful for how safe I've felt while in Berlin.

After this morning's walk, it was time for more laundry. Did I tell you about the time that I ran out of laundry detergent? It was a glorious 3 days where I couldn't do laundry. Then I bought more detergent and took two days to catch up. But this is another aspect I'm worried about when we visit England. Depending on how long we stay and where we go... I will be without a washing machine. So, will we have enough clothes to get us through or will we need to visit a laundromat? I hope their machines dry faster than the ones here. One of the cycles I pick here takes 4 hours to run and the clothes still aren't 100% dry at the end of it all. I cannot imagine sitting in a laundromat for 4 hours in London. I can't hold tightly to my phone for that long!

Ok, so for today, we're headed to Fliegeberg, or the "Fly Hill". Another destination I found in one of the Berlin books in our apartment. Otto Lilienthal, known as The Glider King, lived in Lichterfelde where he conducted many flight experiments in the late 1800s. Fliegeberg is another artificial hill (about 15 meters high) made from rubble. The Wright Brothers used his work in their early explorations of flight..

Map by someone else
We live in the upper circle while
Lichterfelde is in the lower circle
Lichterfelde is an hour away by public transportation, 40 min by car, and about 20km in distance from our apartment. We are approximately located in the middle of Berlin. When I look at a map of Berlin, it is wider than it is tall. So, if we're in the middle, and it's about an hour south, then I can guesstimate that it's about two hours travel from north Berlin to south Berlin. But if Berlin is wider than it is tall, that means, it's longer than a two hour travel from East to West. This "grade school" math problem really illustrates that Berlin, a single city, is HUGE and we really haven't seen but a smidgen of it!

So, long story short, I get online to verify that our Bahn tickets will get us there. Our monthly ticket is for section AB and if we enter section C, we have to buy an extra ticket. After searching the Bahn map, I confirm that we will be getting right up to the edge of section B, so our tickets are good. Wow. And seriously, go to the bathroom now, because who knows when we'll see another one.

As expected, we must make some transfers. Today's an M1 (tram) to the S25 (S-Bahn) to the 284 (bus) kind of day. Or course, as you move farther away from the middle of the city, transportation doesn't come as frequently. Instead of your tram coming every 5 minutes, your bus might come every 30 minutes. Or a Bahn might get cancelled (see later in our day). We know this. But it's still funny how our brains have been trained to think our tram/bahn/bus will come in just a few minutes, so when we have to wait... we're irritated (not too bad, but I notice it's not as nice).

An hour later, we arrive at our stop in Lichterfelde. As usual, I can never tell which way I'm facing as we get off public transportation. There's a green park across the street that looks pretty, so I suggest we head there while I check Google to see which way to start walking. Before we can finish crossing the street, Venice exclaims that she see's the steps to the hill. Perfect! I didn't even need to use Google.

Fliegeberg is 15 meters high and has a 360 view. Otto Lilienthal created it like this so that he could jump in any direction depending on the winds of the day.

Fall colours are in full bloom here. So excuse the numerous photos. It was more eye-candy and so, so beautiful.

Here are just a few I took of the grove nearby, iPhone pictures are not doing it justice.
Venice brought he iPod today and took some of her own photos (bottom-middle)

Xander pointing to Germany and Venice pointing to Oregon.

It's fun to imagine jumping off the hill to glide on the wind.
Xander makes his attempt (right)

There are a few boards with old photos of the hill "back in the day" (middle)
From afar, it looks like an alien spaceship (right)

I have read, somewhere, that Berlin is one third green space. I believe it. As we keep mentioning, there are parks everywhere. To the west of the hill, there is a giant park. We saw several people jogging, walking, and playing around. I heard kids through the trees. Following their sounds of "playing", we walked by a pretty pond (not to be confused with the reflecting pool in front of the hill). The sounds of the kids came from a school, so we couldn't play with the or share their equipment, however, just beyond their grounds, was a public park. The kids explored the fun equipment there, including a long path of various obstacles (they couldn't quite tell its purpose... looked more like you should ride your mountain bike over it, but everyone else was just walking/climbing all over it).

The park to the side of Fliegeberg
Venice conquers the giant silver dome.

The call of nature tells us it's time to head home. No bathrooms here. We're in the middle of a residential area. So, we must head back. Just as I was checking to see when the next bus would come... it approached us from behind. So we ran the last block to be sure we'd catch it (you know the next one probably doesn't come for another 30 minutes out here!)

On the way here, we took the bus for 11 stops. But there is another Bahn station along the way that would cut our bus ride down to 5 stops but only increase our Bahn ride by one stop. Sounds like a no brainer. So we go back this shortened way. But, to our wonderful surprise, our Bahn is canceled and the next one comes in 14 minutes. Sigh. It's the same one if we took the longer bus ride, but that's little consolation for those who need a restroom (which we didn't see in this station anywhere... but I know there was a public restroom at the OTHER station)... sigh. So we wait.

We finally arrive home and everyone is grateful for the bathrooms. And we rest comfortably until dinner.

Tonight we head to Babel (we think Lebanese) for dinner. They serve Shawarma, which is quite popular here. Chris had food from here a while ago and has wanted us to try it too. AND, this is the restaurant with the most beautiful flowers EVER. Remember them from the other day? So pretty. At least 7 large bouquets of lilies out front and at least 5 more inside the restaurant. Plus, Gerber's and Carnations on every table. The colours are a feast for your eyes as you feast on their flavourful foods. We are unsure how they sustain all these flowers on a daily basis. I'm convinced the owner also runs a flower farm. Otherwise, I just don't know how you could afford all these flowers.

I capture Venice (top-left) and she pays me back by capturing me (top-middle)
Venice takes more photos (top-right)
I capture the lilies inside (bottom-left) and some from outside (bottom-right)

The food was delivered on a giant plate with lots of different items. Salads, sauces, garnishes and lots of pomegranate seeds and mint leaves sprinkled on top. Each plate looked like your own Thanksgiving platter.

There was also a scoop of green chilli sauce on each plate. As the server placed a plate in front of Xander, he showed him the scoop and warned us that it was pretty hot. He was right! Here in Berlin, there's a bit of a joke about spicy foods. There aren't any. Even the Thai isn't spicy. Back in the U.S. we get mild Thai and often that is still too spicy for the kids. But here, even level 3 spicy is edible by the kids. So, I dug into this green chilli with this knowledge and experience. And... wow! It was super spicy. Yum. It did make me warm all the way through. Good stuff, if not heartburn inducing.

We head home with happy tummies (but some of us ate too much).

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