to Europe

*Brett and I recently finished a trip to Europe. Based on a journal I kept during our travels, these posts are being made after-the-fact for those who are interested in reading more about it. Our photos are all in Flickr, some available only to my contacts for increased privacy.*

We each took a backpack which the airline would allow as carry-on, as well as a small day backpack. Brett’s bags totalled 6kg (13.2 pounds) and mine just over that. We took British Airways which told us the carry-on limit is 6kg, though I don’t they ever checked the weight of our bags. We even cut our bar of soap in half to help us stay below that weight limit.
We started our reliance on public transportation early by walking the mile to the train depot and taking Caltrain to BART and on into SFO. We were thrilled. Not used to Caltrain, we padded our schedule and were four hours early for our 4:45pm flight, arriving at 12:45pm to the SFO departures hall. By 1:15pm, we were sitting by our gate. We passed the time away by reading guidebooks and calling a few friends and family. Our course to Berlin went smoothly: ten hour flight to London Heathrow (mostly sleep time), two hours lounging in Heathrow, and a two hour flight to Berlin Tegel. In all, our trip took 20 hours, door to door.

We stayed in the Circus Hostel, which was more like a hotel than a hostel, located on Rosa-Luxemburg Strasse in the heart of the former East Berlin, one tube stop from AlexanderPlatz.

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A picture taken towards Alexanderplatz (where the tv tower is located).

The first thing we did after arriving was shower. I was done before Brett and went back to our room to wait. I sat down on the bed and the next thing I knew, she was shaking me awake. She had to go down to the front desk to get a second key because I’d slept through her pounding on the door. šŸ™‚

After I’d woken from my nap, we went out for dinner. We walked around all over and finally ended up at a restaurant at HackescherMarkt serving Bavarian food. I had weisswurst (white sausage) and weiss bier. Brett had bratwurst with sauerkraut and a lager. We both enjoyed our meals.

Random thoughts:

  • Wow!
  • I should have studied German.
  • Berlin is beats LA hands-down for graffiti capital. There is graffiti everywhere.
  • I’m glad we held out for German food instead of settling for falafels.
  • The hostel has a perfect location. The beds are comfy but the Internet access they have at 50 euro cents for 15 minutes seems like highway robbery (later I found out that it is a common price and in fact quite reasonable in tourist zones).
  • I need flip-flops.
  • I meet the most interesting people in transit. On the plane from London to Berlin, we sat next to an older British woman who was traveling to Berlin as part of a four day tour of Berlin/Potsdam. She had been part of the British contingent at the signing of the Potsdam treaty which ended WWII in Europe. She hadn’t been back since then and talked about how the last time she saw the city, it had been in rubble. She told us that her children and grandchildren had no interest in the history she’d lived. We could tell that broke her heart and encouraged her to write it down for later generations. She still has her diaries from those days to help her tell the story. I hope she does write it down and shares it with the rest of us.

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