Have You Hugged Your Tuba Today?
Next:Weekend 8 - Berlin - Day 2 (Sun, 25 May 2003)
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Sat, 24 May 2003
Germany - Weekend 8 - Berlin - Day 1
My weekend started on Saturday. I didn't get up too early. I casually packed my stuff and headed towards the busstop. I stopped at the phone booth and called Jason. I knew what hostel they were planning to stay at, but I wanted to call to make sure they were really in Berlin and really at the hostel. The phone rang a few times but I never got an answer. I had packed my Snickers spread in my bag, and while I was in the phonebooth, I realized that I had left my knife in my room. I considered going back for it, but then I would miss the next bus. I decided to catch the bus instead. So I took the bus to the train station. There were a number of trains I could catch to Berlin. There are ones that left at :05 and :51 past the hour. When I walked into the trainstation, I saw the 12:51 train leaving. I checked the timetables, and decided to take the 1:51 train, since it was direct, and it only arrived about 20 minutes after the 1:05 train. With my free time, I walked through the pedestrian mall to Munsterplatz and back. I bought a fresh loaf of bread to go with my Snickers spread. I caught the 1:51 train and had a relatively boring ride until arriving in Berlin around 8:15.

When I got to Berlin, I felt a little nervous because I was all alone. I had directions to the hostel, and they said to take the S-bahn from platform 5. The S-bahn was some sort of trolley/train thing. I followed the "S" signs out of the train station and stopped at a payphone to call Jason. This time I was able to catch him, but the connection was bad, and I could barely hear what he said. But I confirmed that they were indeed in Berlin. And I also confirmed that they were staying in the hostel they were planning to. Jason and I were disconnected before we could talk much longer. From the payphone, I walked towards a group of buildings with big "S" logos on top of them. I went to a ticket machine and bought a ticket that would let me ride the public transportation system for 2 hours. The machine reminded me to validate (i.e cancel) the ticket before I started using it. I found platform (or position) 5 and waited. The directions said to take any train from platform 5. While I waited, I started to think....... I was standing at a busstop. While the covering of the busstop said "S" on it, the sign at the stop had a little "BUS" logo instead. There was a little map of the area that had the area I was standing clearly marked as the BUS area and the S-Bahn area being closer to the train station I had arrived in. So I walked back into the train station. It had an "S" sign with an arrow pointing out the door. (and generally towards where the buses were) At this point, I was really confused. I walked farther down the train station and came to another entrance into the trainstation. After walking into it, I saw one "S" sign that again had an arrow pointing out the door. But after walking farther into the train station, I found an "S" sign that pointed down a corridor. So I followed it and went around a few more corners and then up an escalator. And then....... finally! I found the S-bahn! For that matter I was at platform 5. There was even a train waiting at platform 5. I wanted to get on, but I hadn't validated my pass yet. At other train stations, we could find the validation machines right by the entrance to the platform, but I couldn't find them there. I walked down the platform a little and couldn't find any of them. But the train I wanted was right there, so I got on anyways. There's nobody who regularly checks for your tickets, but there are random checks for tickets, and you get a fine if you don't have a properly validated ticket. So I illegally rode to Friedrichstr., where my stop was. Nobody bothered me. At the Friedichstr. stop, I saw the validation machines, but I felt a little weird walking off the train and then validating my ticket, so I skipped it. From Friedrichstr., you just walk a couple blocks to the hostel. I found it without problem, and the others were in the room waiting for me.

After I got there, we all went out to eat. Allyn's book recommended a Tex-Mex place that was just a couple blocks away. Allyn's book is almost always right, so we decided to go there. It was named Assel's, and it was a little bar with a bunch of picnic tables out front. All the tables were full, so we went inside. Our waiter didn't speak English. We ordered drinks and they eventually came. The waiter ran away before we could order food. Eventually we caught him again, but then we learned that the kitchen was closed for the night. (It was just after 10pm). But we were all hungry, so we finished our drinks and went elsewhere. Just a little down the road we found an Indian restaurant that had picnic tables on the sidewalk. They were still serving food, so we ate there. I really liked the food there. I got chicked chooza, which had a bunch of curry in it. While we were sitting there, we also had entertainment. First, there were all sorts of people walking down the sidewalk. But the more unique thing was across the street. There were prostitutes standing on the side of the road, one about every 30 feet. We saw probably a dozen that night and could see two from where we were sitting. They weren't all that wonderful to look at, but it was just interesting to watch them, because none of us ever see prostitutes. We never saw them get picked up, but we did see them talking to a half-dozen different guys during the course of dinner. The most intriguing was a guy on a bike....... how do you pick up a prostitute on a bike?? Probably 5 minutes after asking each other that question, we saw the answer. There was a guy riding a bike with a girl sitting side-saddle on a little luggage rack over the back tire. While she didn't look like a prostitute, we figured that's how you do it. The guy on the bike stopped and talked to her for a while. After a while he left on his bike and the prostitute was still standing there. Jason said something about the guy's wife wondering why her husband wanted a bike rack that could support 140 lbs. or so. ;) We joked about one of us going up to the prostitute and saying something slick like, "Wo is die bahnhof?" (where is the trainstation?) but none of us did. After our delicious Indian dinner, we went back to the hostel and slept for the night. The bathroom was shared on the floor and unisex, which was a little weird, but it wasn't too busy, so it wasn't much of an issue.
Next:Weekend 8 - Berlin - Day 2 (Sun, 25 May 2003)
Previous:Weekend 7 - Prague - Day 1 (Sat, 17 May 2003)

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