Friday, May 10, 2013
I was really excited when I got up on the 10th. Excited to go and meet the first of my tour mates. Excited to start speaking German, butchering it, really. Ready to explore somewhere completely new to me. I was also really sad. I had an entire week to fall in love with this tiny little person that I had just met. I knew I would get to see James, Stephanie and Nanner in a little more than a month when they came home for Steph’s mom’s wedding. Leaving friends is never fun, though!
We had a farewell English breakfast, packed all of my crap into the car and headed off to Heathrow. We listened to good, sing-a-longish music. When they dropped me off, I had enough butterflies in my stomach to feed a moderately sized village for a week… assuming there is a village somewhere that eats butterflies. I was a little early to the airport, so I wandered through duty free and all of that jazz. The airport monitors were saying that my flight didn’t have a gate yet, and to look for one ~30 minutes before boarding time. I waited patiently… until there were a measly 20 minutes until my flight. I went and asked at one of the information kiosks. Nothing. He knew less than I did.
With an incredible 4 minutes left until our scheduled TAKEOFF, not boarding time, there was a gate number announced and half of the terminal takes off running for the exact opposite end of the airport. Once boarded I have a window seat in a row of three: a mother and her ~2 year. She was cute. For about 20 minutes. At which time she started getting fussy. No big deal. UNTIL she starts kicking my legs, then she lays over with her head in her mother’s lap and continues to kick my arms, side and leg. I was really expecting her mom to do something, but she refused to acknowledge it until I actually asked her to intervene. I was surprised when she reacted as though I was inconveniencing her by requesting that she parent her child. Ah well.
She was no longer of consequence when we actually got close to Berlin. What is really quite interesting about the city from the bird’s eye view is the sheer amount of green in such a metropolitan city! Here’s what I thought most intriguing: all of the massive residential buildings had big empty middles where trees grew. Like each building had their own private park…
I got some Euro cash out at the airport and went outside to get a taxi. Confession? I have never EVER hailed a taxi in my life. I was so nervous that I sat on a bench looking at the line of taxis, saying over and over in German my request to be taken to the address of my hotel. Once I finally got up the nerve and got into a taxi, which was a Mercedes by matter of fact, I rode in the front. I got out my map, on which I had highlighted a couple of acceptable routes to the hotel and followed along. I was determined not to be drive aimlessly around Berlin on my dime.
I got into the hotel and freshened up pretty quickly. I had made arrangements with the other two girls who would be arriving a day early to meet up in the evening. I knew Brianne was already in her room, because she had sent me a message on Facebook, but Jacqueline was due to arrive a bit after me. I went to Brianne’s room and knocked.
Now as an aside, I would like to say that I can be a bit intense. I get a little too excited about things and it can be a little off putting to some people. I try from time to time to act nonchalant and disinterested, as seems to be customary, but my enthusiasm usually finds a way to poke through. That being said, when I knocked on the door of my new friend, I was unsure of how to greet her. I loved her immediately when she threw the door open and hugged me like we were long lost besties. We sat down and gabbed about where we had been before Berlin. She was in Italy and Zurich while I was in London. Together we decided to run downstairs and check with reception to see if Jacqueline had arrived yet and whether or not they would give us her room number.
While we were standing in the lobby, waiting for a free receptionist, in walked Jacqueline, who recognized me, thank goodness. I had not had time to creep her Facebook since she had joined the group due to my limited internet access. As she had literally just arrived, Brianne and I sat down in the lobby to allow her time to take her things to her room and freshen up. When she came downstairs, we took off to find somewhere to grab a drink and settled down at one of the sidewalk tables of this tiny little pub. Beer and cider ordered, we sat there and got to know each other. Jacqueline: South African, runner, works in an office, something to do with cars, I think. Forgive me for not remembering, if you’re reading this! Brianne: Australian, Accountant, I think, 1 of 3 children, very close with her siblings.
We paid our tab and walked East in search of a restaurant. We settled down at this place that had a little bit of everything, but it was mostly Italian. We ordered our food, and when it came Jacqueline’s was completely wrong. I think she had ordered the spaghetti bolognese and when the food came it was fettuccine alfredo with chicken, broccoli and about 600 whole peppercorns. When she told him that it was not what she ordered, he took it away but returned within a couple of minutes carrying the same plate. Get this: I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. He asked her if she would eat it anyway.
She did, even though it was not enjoyable having to pick around all of those little pepper bombs. When our bill came she requested that she pay for what she ordered since the dish he had brought her was considerably more expensive. HE FREAKED OUT. Started going off about how she should just pay for the whole meal, and if he had eaten it, he would pay for it, whether he enjoyed it or not. It was outrageous. We left there totally shell shocked.
After we walked back to the hotel, we all kind of crashed. We had to get a good night’s sleep, because that’s the last time for the next two weeks!