Sunday, June 25, 2017

Goodbye Berlin !- Saturday, June 17, 2017

Today we said good-bye to Berlin.  We spent the morning packing and getting our things together.  We had made plans to meet Stephanie and the girls for lunch so we met them at an Italian restaurant near the train station. 

 One thing I’ve noticed here is that there are a lot of Italian restaurants here.  I haven’t seen many Mexican food restaurants nor French or Spanish restaurants.  No Ethiopian or Thai or Vietnamese either.  I had some salad, something I really miss from home.  Once lunch was over it was off to the train.  Getting on the train was relatively uneventful, but once we got on, THAT is an interesting story. 

We sat down in a train car with four young men.  Two were cousins who were traveling together to Prague from Sweden.

The other two were traveling separately.  After the first hour, the two traveling separately got off the train and a young woman from South Korea got on. 

After chatting with them for a while, a strange thing happened.  A man DRESSED AS A UNICORN popped into our car and asked us to cut parts out of his costume !  

It turned out that this guy was with his friends and this was a STAG party.  In the UK, Men have STAG parties before they get married—it’s something like a bachelor party but they take it VERY seriously.  These parties last anywhere from 3 days to a week.  This guy’s buddies made him dress up in a unicorn costume.  Then he went around to women and asked them to pay a euro to cut a part out of his costume.  The other thing he had to do was to get pictures of women’s bra’s hanging from his unicorn horn !    As I don’t have a shy bone in my body, I immediately took the scissors and cut a piece out of his butt cheek !  As a “reward” I was given a miniature bottle of alcohol.  We were all laughing so hard.  Later he came back and wanted our bra’s to take a picture of it.  I took mine off (without showing anything) and let him take the picture.  No harm done, they are having a blast.  For anyone who judges me for this, -- what harm was done?  Life is to live and take risks and have fun… As long as I don’t hurt myself or anyone else I’m going to keep doing crazy and unpredictable things. 

Arriving in Prague was another interesting situation.  As strange as the German language appeared to me in writing, Czech looked even more alien !  Not only that, who knew that the Czech Republic had its own currency? !  We looked to buy tickets for the metro and found that we could not use our euros !  We had to find a money change booth.   The Czech currency is the Czech Crown, and there are currently 24 crowns to one U.S. dollar.  This makes converting prices a bit difficult, so I downloaded a handy currency converter app.  Thank Goodness for technology !  Which leads me to mention that Google is amazing when it comes to navigating public transportation.  All you have to do is put in your destination, click on the bus icon, and it will tell you what bus, tram, or train to take (or what combination of them) to get to your destination.  And the REALLY unnerving thing is that it’s SO eerily ACCURATE !  When it says that a bus is coming at 8:51, it is exactly correct !  I must say this for public transport here in Germany and Czech Republic—the trains, trams, and buses are extremely punctual.

So let’s talk public transportation.  Why don’t we have it in the states?  I’ve used it in Washington, DC and NYC, but no where else.  We have buses in Greensboro, but they only cover a small area and are not routed very well.  It takes over an hour to get to a location by bus that would take 15-20 minutes by car.  Another drawback is that they come only every 30 minutes where the buses and trams here come every 10-15 minutes.  The transportation tickets are relatively inexpensive compared to the price of a car, insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and taxes/registration.  If we had reliable public transport I would take it EXCEPT in the heat of the summer.  Remember as a kid riding in the school bus when it was REALLY hot out?  Miserable.  That’s how it’s been for the last several days.  Everyone here says it is so much hotter than usual.  I really need some relief from the heat.  Once we made it to the Airbnb, everything went well.  It is a beautiful old building in a nice neighborhood.  Our host is great and we made plans for what to do tomorrow.

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