I feel like some part of me remembers Germany. Which is silly. The only thing German about me is my name but as soon as we got into Germany I fell in love. The land is beautiful. It’s just like the tiny towns I’ve seen in Pennsylvania that I always loved so much. It’s all green, rolling hills with little old towns tucked into valleys. Perhaps that why so many German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania.
Today was pretty boring. Basically a full day of travel. I took the high speed train Thalys from Paris to Cologne, Germany and then the high speed train ICE from Cologne to Berlin. The only thing exciting that happened all day was there was a huge fight in the station in Cologne. Can you guess what it was about? A woman! No, I kid, of course not. It was about the World Cup. I guess two rival idiots decided to have at it right in view of about 200 German police. By time the police broke it up some old lady had been KNOCKED down the stairs and several guys were standing around with torn shirts. I hope they get to spend the night in jail and miss the game.
Let me tell you something. There are a LOT of police around. I guess for this very reason. I’m assuming that it’s not like this all the time but there are just tons and tons of them.
Anyway, I left Paris at 10:55am and arrived in Berlin exactly on time, to the minute, at 8:48pm. There was an hour layover in Cologne so it was about 9 hours of train time all told. Still, it was nice. The trains are very fast, quiet and there’s plenty to look at. At one point the ICE train was doing 235 km/h which is almost 150 mph. Pretty sweet. The ICE shows it’s speed now and then on a display. The Thalys is kind of old school and doesn’t show shit.
Berlin so far is awesome. The station is brand new and it’s very nice. The tourism booth was still open so I managed to get lots of information, a train pass and a new hotel reservation. I had booked two nights in a hostel just to make sure I would have a place to stay but when I got here I found a really nice 3 star hotel for EU 45/night. Can’t beat that. The hostel was going to be EU 22/night and that was for a 8 bed dorm with shared bathroom. It’s really nice to have a place to hang up your clothes and know that they will still be there when you return after a day of sightseeing.
My hotel is about 600 meters from the Zoological Garden station (ZOO) which is the center of the shopping district. It’s really nice. My hotel is on a side road right off a road that looks every bit as nice as 47th through The Plaza.
The room itself is interesting. They seem to keep getting smaller. And I have a Murphey bed! How cool is that? Not very cool, I admit, but still. I’ve never actually seen one. Since I didn’t do anything cool today except ride the train I’ll try to upload some pictures of the room. My Internet access is pretty spotty. I’m “borrowing” it from someone. Who knows who.
So far everyone I have run into speaks very good English and they are very polite. Nice change from Paris. Signs are sometimes mixed, sometimes not, but once you get the basics it’s not too bad. The train system seems to be really nice. There’s a “snelltrain” that runs just between the major stations in the city, a above ground tram that hits most of the bigger stations and then an underground subway which I don’t know anything about yet.
Oh, the first thing I ate when I arrived in Germany was a giant soft pretzel. That kicked ass. Place selling them for EU 0.60 just as I got off the train.
I continue to eat everything I’m presented and I’m telling you, it hasn’t been easy. I got a toasted ham and cheese sandwich while on the train today and it was completely slimed in mayo. So nasty. I ate every bite.
I probably got off pretty lucky in Paris. I never did figure out how to successfully sit down at a table at a street cafe but if I had I think I may have been presented with a giant bucket full of slimy things in shells. That seemed to be the chow du jour.
So that’s probably about it for Sunday. I am going to clean up and then hit a bar or two out on the main street I think. I hear Germany has beer. I’d like to drink some. I also need to finish watching The Godfather. My battery pooped out like 20 minutes from the end. They had just blown up Mike’s hot, new Italian wife.
Oh, one last cool thing. Most of the places I’ve been in Europe have these really nice faucets on the showers. They are marked with temperatures and presumably the water that comes out is that temperature. They also lock at 38 celcius and you have to push a button to go hotter than that. Which is good. That’s too hot. Anyway, I like mine to be about 35.
Oh, there’s one more last thing. You know how in the US when you get a soda from a soda machine it drops like 20 stories into the bin at the bottom but somehow when you open it it doesn’t explode? That’s cause they keep the nice and cold. In Paris everything is warm. When you buy a soda (or in this morning’s case, an Orangina) and open it it blows a geyser a mile high and all over you. This happened to me over and over and I never learned.