Monday, November 30, 2009

A Final Day in Europe

Well, the day has come. It's my final full day in Europe. Sure I'll still be in Germany for a few hours tomorrow – but it will be confined to a major airport or two, and in a giant airport, countries cease to exist. To the casual observer, anyway. Sure the cans of bear meat may set off your, “I'm somewhere else,” sensors – but aside from that.

So first there was breakfast, and then there was a long email written about The Beatles, and then I was finally able to begin my day. There were only a few places left that I needed to see in order to feel as if I had conquered Berlin (not unlike the French – in one way... in another way, completely unlike them.)

I've since moved from my window seat, to a more comfortable couch, which also has a plug socket near it. A silly boy thought the book he left on the couch, while he moved to a table to eat dinner, would have his place. I don't know what type of crazy thinking that is. That could have just got his book stolen – left behind books are often seen as gifts dropped by fellow travellers. I've left some, I've picked some up others left. But no, this boy came back to reclaim it, once he saw his ploy had failed. His girlfriend was not amused – as girlfriends rarely are. But, they wanted a real table to eat their burgers, not a comfy couch, and as such – their loss in my gain. They have a plug there too, so I don't know why they're acting so grumpy.

The bar has lowered their music, so I can rock some Dealership, and that helps me focus. So too does the fact that the bar just shut down their wifi. On one hand, I can't post what I write, but on the other, I can write it – and the gChats have gone away. Sure it looks like I just cut and ran on them, but that's not the case.

So off to the subway to buy a delightful new ABC day pass. But no, the machine wouldn't take my twenty. Woosh! A subway goes by. Back to the hostel I go to get two tens. Back to the subway. Oh no – ten thirty – the free tour is meeting, and a such the ticket machine is clogged with tourists who can't understand that they just need to push the same button the person in front of them pushed, to get what they want. Woosh! Another train goes by. Woosh! Another train goes by – these things are every seven minutes. That's how terrible it is – one minute until the next train. Good, just got my ticket. Need to validate it though, clogged. That's the train coming in. People may have been pushed, it's hard to say – all I know is I had a validated ticket, and was able to jump on the train before it tore away.

Down the Seven line I went, all the way to the Olympic Stadium station.

This – was a station. No less than eight tracks met up here, and though they were mostly closed off now, I had to wonder what type of use they normally get, or once may have received. From the station I headed across the street, and over to the Olympic stadium. You may have seen pictures of it, but I tell you – it's hard to prepare. Hitler and his Nazi's certainly did know how to make an impact with their buildings.

In front of the stadium stood two large concrete towers, the all black Olympic rings suspended below them. On each tower was a bull horn. It was hard to reconcile the fact that I was standing In front of a great stadium, not some terrifying guard tower.

In front of the tower I set up my tripod, and configured my camera to take a number of shots in a row. Jumping may have been involved, but I like to think that I was, instead, flying. Yes, I must have been flying. That's why all the adolescents in their tour bus were staring at me, and snapping pictures. Understandable.

As the bus unloaded, I felt my time at the Olympic park was at an end. Back on the train, a quick change over, and off to the city of Potsdam.

Why Potsdam? Why not? It's a completely different city, accessible with a Berlin metro pass. That's enough reason for me.

Arriving there, I grabbed a map from the bus tour guide booth. These maps are fantastic, because they already have all the main attractions pointed out for you. And the less you have to think, the more you can explore.

For such a small town, it was pretty big. Much bigger than I would have liked, to be honest. This would be no quick stop. Off I went through a garden, past a skate park, and beyond a war memorial / cemetery. Off I went to a large park with a hut in the middle that the map pointed out – getting there I wasn't sure what the importance was? So I took a picture. Maybe it will turn out to be important, and if so, I want proof that I was there.

And then off to the park – which is the predominant section of Potsdam. It's twice the size of the town itself. It's a huge park. So what's there? A castle – another castle, a Chinese tea house, and then a final castle on the way out. Ohh – there's a windmill in there somewhere too.

Look, I'm sure it's lovely. I mean it must be. But – it's just that it's not offering me anything all that great, and it's so spread out. Walking from the entrance, to the back, to the entrance of the park took nearly an hour. And for nothing all that special. It's a park.

What did pay off was the Christmas market here. Of course there was one here. And confined to one long street, it was a pleasure to stroll along, forgetting for a moment the threatening rain. There was even a carnival here – not to the size and scale of the Sandlot-esque fair that existed in Berlin, but a good sized one, none the less.

With all of these things taken in (and some confusion as to why there's a Brandenburger Tor here too) there was just one thing left that I wanted to see – a small pond in the middle of town. Why did I want to see it? Because the map pointed it out. So out of my way I walked, and when I got there... it was drained. Great. Well, at least I got to walk along in the bottom of it. That's something.

At the post office I wrote some postcards (using the free ones I'd picked up along the way) bought some stamps – which I'm not sure if they were enough, although they did read that they were for postcards, so... and then hopped on the bus to travel one stop back to the train station.

From the train station I made two detours. One was at one of the central stations – here I discovered that showers cost seven euro. Who would pay seven euro for a shower? I'm paying seven euro for my hostel, and they give me showers, beds, internet (although not this second), and free breakfast. Seven euro for a shower? Seriously.

And then it as to the gift shop to spend my final few euro – no good to me later. I still have that ten dollar key deposit too. That'll be useless – ten euro at five in the morning in Berlin, what's that going to get me? Actually – it got me much needed deodorant back in Krakow – so maybe it will pay off here too.

And that was that. Back to the hostel to type up some blogs, and get ready to move on.

It's right now eight o'clock, and I'm going to predict the future, though it's not yet come to pass:

after packing up here, I'll go to the durum doner place, eat a disapointing last meal (although I can't imagine when I'll eat these again, so there will be something special abot that), and then I'll come back – pack up – and maybe watch some Spider-man before heading off to bed, Alarm set to wake me up way too early. Way, way too early.

1 comment:

  1. I always wondered what the point of validating your U/S bahn tickets was. I bought an all day unlimited ride ticket in Munich that had the time and location stamped on it, yet it sill had to be validated in the little box. If anyone could provide an answer, that would be awesome.


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