A very early start sees us travelling to the airport in the fog to catch a plane to Berlin. Amsterdam has been an amazing experience, again. Its more than just a city with a unique red light district, and one where you can buy a splif with your coffee. It’s a place where everyone has a voice. Open and honest, Amsterdam enables you to be who you are, or who you want to be. The Hotel Zanderberg, and in particular the owner Hank, has been a wonderful haven away from the buzz. His personal service to his customers is just outstanding. He made quite a few things so much easier. Thanks Hank!
This morning’s flight to Berlin is with EasyJet. I have never flown them before and have only seen them on the Airport UK show, which isn’t that flattering. I paid extra for Speedy Boarding which enables you to get on the plane first and choose your seats. Easyjet does not have allocated seating so, like a bus, you get in and sit where you want. The taxi driver told us that you would have to push the plane on the tarmac! Very funny. Check-in was easy. Going through customs was odd. You stand in this cylindrical Perspex tube (think Dr Who), raise your hands in the air (think stick ‘em up western movie) and then this things swirls around you 3 times (think MRI scan). Then you come out and wait 3 seconds and see your image on the screen. Because I showed a reading on my left hand hip I had to be padded down. I don’t mean tap tap, I mean totally padded down. It came to be that I had a metal button on my jacket. Whooooaa! Scary! Ryan got the same treatment and a bag search. It came to light that he was carrying a 100ml Apple juice popper. He got a lecture and got it confiscated. The gate felt like 3 suburbs away, but we did get on first and got front row of the plane. Awesome.
After a quick 1 hour flight we land in Berlin at Schoenberg Airport. Berlin has 2 Airports and these will both close to make way for the Berlin Brandenberg Airport due to open soon. Berlin is experiencing a tourist boom and has realized the need for a bigger airport. Schoenberg Airport is probably the same size as Canberra Airport. For a city that has over 3 million inhabitants, 2 small airports are a little unusual. No passport control, no customs, just get your bag and walk through this gate thing. There were a lot of customs officers at the gate and they were focusing on black people, Middle Eastern people and Russians. We braved it and got the train and bus to our apartment. Our apartment is a loft apartment in Friedrichshain. Very roomy with a great view of the television tower.
Mastering the train system here is a little ridiculous. There is the U-bahn, the S-bahn, trams and buses. It took us a while but then we sort of got the hang of it. We made our way into Alexanderplatz and went to a massive shopping centre, Alexa, to have lunch. Then Mark and the kids went up the television tower. It is one of those icons in Berlin. Not loving heights, and the ridiculous admission price meant that I would stay on the ground. Mark commented that there were more security checking points to go up the tower than to get into the country. By all reports it was a great view of Berlin. 11€ Adults and 7€. Before heading back to the apartment Mark and I did a bit of shopping at our local supermarket, Lido. It’s the equivalent to an Aldi in Australia. The prices are obscenely low. We decided on the ricotta and spinach tortellini for dinner. Bought some amazing peppermint chocolate for after dinner treats. First day impression of Berlin – very clean, amazing vibe, reasonably priced, language a barrier and not set for tourists. I am not sure of the tourist numbers here but there are some indicators that lead me to believe that its not many. More on that tomorrow.