Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Unpacking

Needless to say, I didn't have much access to the nets while away, so I am starting what I am hoping will be a series of posts with some highlights of the trip and various photographs. I spent all afternoon downloading them onto the computer and tweaking them. I am trying to do them in an orderly fashion, but my thoughts are so jumbled...

Bismark
Bismark looking noble in the Tiergarten, in the last light of a magical summer evening.


The Last Day
Coming home was challenging, and I learned a lot on the way. For example, I learned that a simple, morning-of-departure spat with my loved one can have devastating consequences. Not just humiliating, but expensive consequences. We were packing our luggage in a hotel in Berlin the morning of our flight home and I was getting madder and madder as Dutch fussed with the piles of dirty socks. Then I opened my mouth and said something awful (I don't want to repeat it). Then we went out for brunch and my irritation compounded as he went to look for an ATM machine to pay the bill (after we went out last night, trying to burn some extra Euros). Then we loaded ourselves on the bus and it slowly meandered through every boring Berlin industrial 'burb, crossing the Spree River about half a dozen times, finally depositing us at the airport, and when I finally looked at the tickets I realized that the plane had left 15 minutes earlier.

My heart stopped. Now we had something actually awful happening, and I felt petty, petty, horribly, wretchedly petty. We found out that the AirFrance people had no sympathy for stupid idiots like us (although they were polite as they tried to charge our debit card a sum so huge that our account froze, not from lack of funds, but from an overzealous anti-fraud-bot, as we found out much much later. That would be a great level of Hell, the ring where you get your card returned to you again and again and again...). The humiliation was acute as Dutch wrangled with the airline and I just stood there, clutching my purse, watching the people go by, the smart people, the ones who could figure how to arrive at the airport on time as the same Audi commercial played on a huge screen suspended over the hall, of a skier zipping through San Francisco streets over and over and over. Streets that we should be on our way towards, even walking on, but at that moment were hideously, impossibly, out of reach.

joe with bronze girls
Dutch shoots the breeze with some German tarts, on the River Spree.

I never appreciated Dutch so much, watching him talk with the lady, explaining the situation like a normal adult, using polite language. I would have been reduced to tears and obscenities in seconds. It took an hour for the penalties and fees to be paid, for the tickets to be booked and the seats assigned. To ramp the level of misery up another notch, they required that we pay for a class upgrade, in spite of the fact we'd be flying economy in all three flights. When we were finally done, Dutch and I just stood there for a while. We didn't know what to do, we hadn't planned on this. So like wounded animals we limped back to the bus stop, caught the TXL back to Alexanderplatz, and sheepishly returned to the reception desk of our hotel and explained the situation. She sold us a beautiful corner room on the 26th floor, where from the bed (the first hotel bed we slept in that was a real queen and not two twins shoved together) we could watch the bungee jumpers whiz past our window and see all of Berlin, filling the earth and brimming to the horizon. We spent another blissful afternoon trying to burn Euros and wandering through the bookstalls and the antique mall, and wherever it was the bus took us that evening. We ended up working very hard to find an out-of-the way place to eat our last meal. We drank a couple huge farewell beers, had some deep-fried cheese and homefries (just like mom makes).

currywurst rain

I love Berlin.

3 comments:

The Nikkster said...

It's always such a shame to end a fabulous journey on a sour and expensive note. Lessons like that are very hard to swallow, but part of the adventure.

Kay said...

Welcome back ... even tho' you're in a different country to me, I guess I can still say welcome back! The adventure will be even more of an adventure to remember once it becomes part of a long-ago memory - trust me! ATWTFG (romans 2.22 ... from memory ... might not be right ..)

M. L. Benedict said...

I'm so glad you're home safe and sound and can't wait to hear more stories.

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