Friday, October 14, 2005

Last Day In Berlin

Berlin, Germany 17:30 Wednesday afternoon (delayed post)

Last night we had a big group dinner at Wasserwerk. Wasserwerk (German for water works) is exactly as the name implies. Or was, anyway. It's an old water works facility gutted and renovated to be a restaurant/nightclub. Very cool place.

After dinner, a bunch of us took the early bus back to the hotel, but got off the bus at Potsdamer Platz. The entire commercial area surrounding the platz is new, having been built on the now-prime real estate that used to be the vast no man's land on the Soviet side of the Berlin Wall. I was told by one of my German colleagues that the land had to be carefully cleared of mines first.

We walked around and saw some of the sights, then went to the Reichstag, where the German parliament (Bundestag) meets. The building appears very old from the outside, but the inside is completely modern. It appears that an entirely new structure was built within just the shell of the old building.

There's a clear glass dome at the top of the Reichstag, with a spiral ramp running the perimeter inside it. Unfortunately, the dome was closed for cleaning until 16 October, so we had to settle for just going on the roof. It was still a pretty impressive view.

Today, the schedule is very light with just a handful of seminar sessions, none of which I have to speak at. But I have to meet informally with a few people, and have the tech support guys help out with a remote access problem I've been having for a month or so. Since I don't work at a company facility, I've gotta catch these guys when I can. Luckily, the company brought in some IT guys from our Munich and UK offices for support at the conference, and they were able to set me straight.

After that, I hop on the U-bahn (subway) and go to the KaDeWe store to return the clothes I bought yesterday. As I'm heading back to the U-bahn to go back to the hotel, I hear this odd music that sounds sort of electronic/techno. It actually sounds like some of the music played at a Blue Man group show, and since that show is now in Berlin, I think maybe they've got some promotional thing going on in the plaza somewhere.

So, I head for the source of the music, thinking I might catch a free mini Blue Man group performance. What I see instead is one guy blowing into a hollow wooden tube about six feet long. The tube looks about two or three inches wide, flaring to about five or six inches at the end. He also had a wooden stick about the size and shape of a large cigar, which he used as a percussion instrument against the side of the tube, and sometimes the sidewalk. I thought there was no way that thing could be making that sound, and maybe he had a boom box hidden somewhere, but there was no such thing in sight. That coupled with the pool of spit forming on the sidewalk where the end of the instrument rested convinced me it was for real. I must have watched the guy play for at least 15 minutes. I was so impressed, I tipped him five euros.

I finally got back to the hotel to do some work on a paper I'm writing (and way behind schedule) on. And tomorrow it's off to Heidelberg to meet with a customer, hopefully two.

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