Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 75: Halloween Costumes

With time running out, I think of regrets. What didn't I get to do that I wanted to do? I know I've talked about our Bingo lists and that we've done most of what we wanted to do. This is still true. But there are little things that will bug me, little things I feel "I should have done." For example, there is a really cute way the teachers take little kids out on walks (to the park or a field trip, I don't know).  Really little kids. I'm guessing taking ten three-year olds to the park could be a nightmare with the fast traffic and wondering nature of the little ones.

Bicycle, with front cart, for sale.
There are two things that I see them doing to make it feasible to take the little kids out and about. First, they put a yellow vest on each kid. I have seen this up through first grade, perhaps. This makes them easy to spot by the teachers and drivers. What I don't know, is if several groups end up at the same park, how do the know which yellow kids are theirs? I suppose schools in the U.S. do this in their own manner. I've seen field trips where the kids are all wearing the same school t-shirt.  But this means each kid has to remember to bring their shirt, parents might have to buy a shirt, or something like this to ensure each kid has one on the day of the outing. The yellow vests are perfect. There is always one for each kid, parents and kids don't have to remember to bring anything, and they're probably one size fits all.

The second thing I see are their wagons. They can fit 8-10 kids in one wagon. They are all sitting upright and facing forwards. The teacher pulls the wagon or "drives" the wagon, much like a stroller, but big. This is awesome! I wanted to take a photo, but felt creepy photographing small children without their consent or knowledge. I've tried looking online for photos of these wagons and I can't find any. I must not be using the correct terms. So, this is one regret I have. No photo of these cool wagons.

I do have a photo of a single "cart" that is popular over here. You ride your bicycle and the kid sits in front with a 5 pt. harness and enjoys their front view (see photo). But, the wagons or carts that holds lots of kids are impressive and I wish I had a photo to share.

This morning, it's all about making sure we don't have more regrets. So, I spend most of the morning researching and buying tickets to the last few places we'll visit while here. A second aquarium and another tall building with the fastest elevator in Europe. One will allow me to share my confirmation number on my phone, the other I send a pdf to Chris and ask that he print them out for me.

We meet up with Chris at Tin Tan for our last (lots of "lasts" coming up) lunch there. Mexican street food. Yum.

After lunch, we head to HotelTonight with Chris. I need the printed tickets from Chris... and hey, why not use the bathroom while we're there? As we head over, we jaywalk... right in front of the polizei (whoops!) We've read that they frown upon jaywalking (they like their rules, remember?) But, the polizei doesn't do anything, I don't even know if he gave us a dirty look (I figure, if I don't look at him, he can't see me, right?) Side note: The other day, Chris saw a polizei tell a bicyclist to walk their bike on the sidewalk (they were riding it on the sidewalk). But, other than that time, we haven't seen anyone be bothered about their bicycles or jaywalking.... which we do all the time here.

The pillar in the front area is "chalkboard" on all sides. Looks like they have fun with it.

We are now ready to run some errands. The kids need Halloween costumes. They have both finally decided on what they'd like to be for Halloween and we need to go acquire some items. Xander has chosen to be "sushi" and Venice has chosen to be "Azula (a character from the Avatar series".

We can't get to the Galleria the way we want to... you guessed it! More construction on a different tram line. I'm glad all these cancelled or diverted routes are happening now and not at the beginning of our trip. We know this part of town pretty well now. We make mistakes and have to turn around sometimes, but we are comfortable understanding the different lines and how to circumvent these "outages" with relative ease. It's mostly a pain in that it takes longer to get somewhere as we are sometimes transferring 1-2 times instead of taking a tram directly there. I suppose there might be some more direct routes... if only we could read the German signs.

While waiting at this Bahn stop, we noticed that the Blue Man Group (yes, they're here!)
is hitting his drum with the top of the Fernsehturm. Cool.

We make it to the Galleria and spend the next few hours looking inside for things we need to create their costumes. We begin with Xander. White-fuzzy jacket (rice), check. Red pillow (fish), check. Black scarf (seaweed), check. Xander is done. Venice's costume is harder. She would like a red robe, but not a terry cloth robe and not a jacket that is over €200. So, we search for along time and come up empty.

There are other errands we need to do, so we must abandon Venice's costume hunt for now. We are off to Ritter Sport for the last time to get chocolate to bring home. Chris and I counted our Nespresso capsules the other day. There are just enough to get us through to the end, so the kids and I can walk by the Nespresso Boutique. Although, as we do, I am silently worried we have miscounted and that we'll run out of caffeine, which would truly stink.

Another pretty Bahn station (left) and a cool building (right)

As we walk to Ritter Sport, we pass by a store that has a Harrods section. The window has the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, a double-decker-red bus and other things "London". I asked the kids to pose in front of the window, telling them that we'd be there, at the real Harrods, NEXT WEEK! They obliged and smile for me.

Harrods (left) and a Buddy Bear (right)

You can se the Fernsehturm behind
Hackescher Markt's construction.
Oh, the amounts of chocolate we bought. Don't tell Chris. I'm going to have to box it up quickly and ship it along quickly. The weight can add up... We're pretty excited, though, because they had their advent calendars and the kids each got to pick one for themselves. So much better than the chocolate you find in the U.S. advent calendars!

Then off to another errand. We needed to get to Hackescher Markt. But our trams don't go there anymore. So we get there circuitously. There definitely was a lot of construction going on in that area. Now we can visually see why the trams don't come here.... giant holes in the street. Side note: some construction has begun on our street, too. I guess, because it's winter, we haven't heard any construction noises through our closed windows. It's a bit surprising to see how far they've gotten (a big hole, when did they make that?)

Anyway, Venice gets one last Bubble Tea from her favourite place. Xander and I waited outside while Venice went in an ordered by herself. Something she noticed is that the people behind the counter have name tags with flags on them. The flags seem to represent the languages spoken by the worker. So, she ordered someone with a British Flag on their name tag. Easy peasy!

Finally, it's time to return to our apartment. We take a Bahn, then run for a bus and we make it home to finally rest our feet. I take this time to call our bank because they think there is fraudulent behaviour on my account. This is something that we're grateful for (a watchful bank) and yet it's been frustrating and interesting on what gets flagged. I have been taking cash out of the ATM, here, for months... but only two times did they flag my account. And not in the first two months. Weird. Also, I have used our Credit Card several times over here, some on line and some in person, but today I was denied. They flag the account and I have to call and say the transactions are valid, then I can try again. Again, we've been here for so long and only now certain transactions are showing up as possible fraud. I think they need to update their algorithms!

Anyway, while I'm on the phone fixing my card, Chris begins to text that he's available for dinner with us. It's Tuesday, and normally he has to work fairly late. We had planned to eat without him. But, yay, we get to have dinner together. We meet at Tommie's Burger (our last time to get their yummy food and shakes), at which point, Chris said he's available for dinner because the U.S. hasn't changed from Daylight's Savings yet. So, instead of having their cross-continent company meeting at 7pm, they were able to have it at 6pm. Awesome! Too bad it's only good for one week. I think the U.S. changes next week? Or shortly thereafter. In any case, we only get to enjoy this early meeting once. We'll take it.

Time for bed.

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