Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 73: Failed Tour

I don't think I've mentioned how wonderful radiant floor heat is. Our apartment is equipped with radiant floor heating and we've been enjoying it since the weather has turned.

When we first moved in, we had high hopes that the dials were for air-conditioning or a fan (this place would have been so much better with ceiling fans, but that's another summer). So, once the weather turned, we were able to use the dials to pick a temperature. There are other digital read-outs on other gauges in the apartment, but this is the most common style in our place (see photo to the right).

Our toes love hitting a warm floor first thing in the morning (or the middle of the night for a bathroom run). And this kind of heating helps heat up the entire apartment. I wish we could install this (easily) at our home in the U.S. as it's a fantastic way to stay warm with less effort and lower temperatures (from what I read online).

Todays' goal is for Chris and me to do an underground tour. The kids have opted out of this one as they are not comfortable under ground, as well as the content of the tour might talk about details of the Nazi regime.

Chris comments that we have to leave in 2 hours. I think we need to leave in 1 hour. Why are we off by an hour? His watch (and all our computers) say it's 12:30pm, but our microwave and oven say it's 1:30p. Surprise! It's time to change the clocks for "Fall-Back" daylight hours. We wondered and guessed it would happen, but had no idea when it would happen. Good thing our digital devices are smarter than we are. Now we'll be on-time for the rest of the day. Phew.

During the morning, we buy our tickets to London (for next week!) The tickets are super cheap. One way starts at around €17. But, we choose to fly out of the closer/bigger airport, add on bags, and select seats, so our price is closer to €90 per person. Still, we are constantly impressed by how inexpensive it is to travel around here. We are set for our departure from Berlin.

We have only paid to take 4 bags with us, but we have 6. We're planning on shipping two big bags back home. We are not interested in carrying around so much luggage (and a lot of it is summer clothing), so we'll pay (through the nose) to ship them home. Side note: We had 7 bags on the way here, but one of them broke. I think I mentioned this before? Checking in at the airline in Austria, the wheel broke off as the woman put it onto the belt. She said we should make a claim in Berlin (blame the Germans!). But it was cheap-old luggage, we're not concerned... except now we have to go home with more stuff (souvenirs) with one less bag. We might need to ship a box or two as well.

Chris and I gather all our summer clothes, shoes, exercise stuff. We put in extra sweaters or pants we think we can live without for 3 weeks. In addition, we gather items from the kids. We put in tour books that we won't need anymore, leaving only the UK and Scotland books. Two full luggage bags are ready to ship.

After lunch with the kids, Chris and I head out to the Underground M tour. We're set to arrive 30 minutes prior to the tour. You cannot buy tickets online or in advance, you have to show up in person, get in line, and book your tour then. So, we walk and Bahn to the ticket office.... only to find it's sold out. We're not too surprised, but we're still disappointed. The woman at the counter suggested showing up 1 to 1.5 hours prior to the tour to buy tickets. She also mentioned that it's holiday time for Berliners (or Germans, I don't remember). We didn't know this and are not sure why it's a holiday time (as Chris' office is still working and doing stuff normally). In any case, there are no tickets, so we can't go today. However, Chris asks if I can buy tickets for both of us (without both of us being present) and I can. Plus, they open at 10am. I can buy tickets early in the day (so we don't have to wait around for 90 minutes or chance getting sold out again). We plan to go later in the week.

But, we have time set aside for now. We could go back home. Or, we're right across from Humboldthain park, and it's a lovely day. We decide to Skype the kids that we aren't underground (so they can feel relief at our safety) and we will be back later as we are going for a walk.

The park is beautiful. Lots of people are out and enjoying the weather and beauty.

It's nice to have more adult-time conversations. We talk every morning, but there is always a quick step to our pace and knowing we're going to run out of time, so we often talk quickly. Today was nice and leisurely.

Back at home, we finalise more details for our visit to London (hotels and such) as well as our plans for when we are there (a side trip to either Oxford or Cambridge?), including booking a day trip that includes Salisbury, Old Sarum, and Stonehenge. It becomes very evident that tours and trips in London are MUCH more expensive than in Berlin. And there are NO family pricing, so each person must pay and arm and a leg to go up the Tower Bridge, or the London Eye, or to see Stonehenge. We will swallow our sticker-shock and proceed with caution.

Once again, it is that bewitching hour of dinner. Where to eat and without a reservation? We decide on Yumcha Heroes (we've been there before) and if we can't get in, we'll walk around to find something else. But, restaurant miracles still follow us around! We can get a table (we just need to eat within an hour). Yay! Delicious dumplings are ours for the evening!

And bonus (in a sort of way), one of our dishes did not come (and wasn't on the bill, so there was a miscommunication there) but it means we all have room for dessert. We head next door to Giorgio Lombardi to get gelato. Because of the blankets outside, we enjoy our dessert at a sidewalk table. And it's a good thing the tram on this street is diverted due to construction, we are forced to walk the mini-hill home and work off some of what we just consumed!

Tonight, I leave you with this thought (sorry to get a little political). I saw this photo (on the left) on Facebook the other day. It depicts one kid holding a Kinder chocolate egg (which have plastic toys inside) and the other an assault rifle, stating the gun is legal but the egg is banned "due to safety of the children". Just thought I'd add to the commentary with my own photo (on the right). These Kinder eggs are all over Berlin. The kids have eaten their fair share while we have been here. The only safety problem we've experienced is ensuing bickering accompanying the "unfairness" of who gets which egg and which "prize" from inside.

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