Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

Berlin, Germany 17:30 Sunday Afternoon (delayed post)

Got up this morning and had breakfast at the hotel in Heidelberg, then packed up my meager possessions and walked to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station), which turned out to be just a few blocks from the hotel.

I caught the 10:10 regional train to Mannheim, where I boarded the 10:31 ICE (Inter-City Express) train for Berlin. If you need to travel between distant cities in Germany, the ICE is the only way to go. As much as I like driving the Autobahn here, five and a half hours of white-knuckle driving can leave you exhausted.

On the ICE, there are these digital displays that show the speed of the train. The German word for speed, by the way, is "geschwindigkeit". On the last leg between Wolfsburg and Berlin, the sustained speed was 250Km/h. That's right around 150MPH. Cool.

In Berlin, the ICE stops at the Berlin Zoological Garden Bahnhof, rather than the Hauptbahnhof. So there I had to transfer to the S7 local train to the Hauptbahnhof, where my plan was to pick up a street map and either (a) walk to the hotel if it wasn't too far, (b) figure out the street car or subway lines and take that to the hotel, or (c) failing either of those two, grabbing a cab to the hotel. Big mistake.

The Hauptbahnhof in Berlin is well into what was the old Soviet sector. The entire area appears to be under (re)-construction. So the main train station turns out to be nothing but a bunch of tracks and platforms where you can get off and on the trains. No information kiosks, no place to buy tickets, nothing. Just some massive structure under construction near the tracks. Taxi stand? Nowhere to be seen.

So, using my impeccable sense of direction, I start walking in the general direction of where I think the hotel might be. At least I got that part right. I come across a Ramada hotel, and ask the desk clerk there how to get to the Berlin Hilton on Mohrenstrasse. The gentleman there is very helpful, and gives me a map showing me where to get on and off the subway for the hotel.

So, I take the U6 about a mile down the road I was already walking on, and when I get off the subway, I'm about a block from the Hilton. Nice.

I walk up to the registration desk, and after checking in, explain to the desk clerk that I was expecting my bag to be delivered at around noon. Does she happen to know anything about that? She shakes her head and explains to me that if the bag had been delivered, there would have been a message for me at check in. Crap...still no luggage.

The concierge is helpful in calling Lufthansa for me. Lufthansa says that my bag never showed up on the flight it was supposed to have, and that Delta has no new information for them. Fan-freakin'-tastic.

I call Deb and let her know what's going on, and she calls Delta stateside. They tell her that the bag probably got held up in customs.

So, I grab my package of the previously mentioned Detergent, Laundry, 1 each and proceed to wash my skivvies, socks and shirt in the sink. I wring everything out, and drape it all on the radiator, which is running just slightly warm. I go to bed secure in the knowledge that I'll have clean, if somewhat damp, clothes in the morning.

No comments: