Germany Part 1: Bumbleday

13 07 2012

My iPad said today was Thursday.  I don’t know how that could be since we left Aiken on Wednesday, flew east across the Atlantic, and never saw dark.   My mind was reeling after some eight hours of flight time and just a few minutes of sleep.  Regardless of what day it actually was, it should rightly be called Bumbleday.  We bumbled through the Frankfort airport, just barely finding how to get our boarding passes and get to the gate in time to board for our flight to Berlin.  Once in the Berlin airport, we bumbled through and finally got directions to our hotel.  We boarded a bus and then got off at the U-bahn station.  A VERY nice Berliner saw our confusion and helped us map our route and buy tickets.  While waiting for our train, he even came back and told us we could have stayed on the bus…another bumble.  We bumbled our way through the U-bahn and finally emerged on the street, locating our hotel without too much trouble…set out again with high hopes that our bumbling was over.

This was not to be.  We headed in what we thought was the direction of the Tiergarten, a centrally-located sight very similar to Central Park in New York City.   It seemed so close on the map.  Before long we were enticed into a cafe for quiche and coffee and then into an used bookstore where Annalise bought some books to read and practice with.  I scored a 1941 Berlin newspaper with illustrated news of the war.

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We finally found the Tiergarten and walked around for a bit, enjoying the beautiful flowers and scenic waterways.  Making our way home was a bit more confusing.  No map and no Internet.  We did have an app called Triposo on the iPad  but it was difficult to figure out on the fly.  Yes, a little bit of research and pre-planning would have paid off.  We walked back and forth trying to find our way until we both were at our breaking points.  We finally made it back to the hotel, but we learned a lesson:  next time we wouldn’t venture out without a map and a clear sense of where we are going.  Back at the hotel, Annalise quickly crashed, dead to the world, and I tried without any luck to connect to the Internet.  Failing that, I tried to place a phone call on our EuroBuz phone, but again no luck.  Too tired to even think of going out again, dinner was crackers and trail mix.  Having been up for 36 hours, the bed was my new best friend.

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Those who know me will find it hard to believe that I ventured all the way to Germany without a clear plan of what I was going to do and where I was going to stay and how I was going to get to where I needed to go.  Usually I overplan.  Not this time.  This trip was different.  This was not my trip at all.  It was my daughter Annalise’s Senior Trip, and so I left the planning to her.  She had taken five years of German with an amazing husband-wife duo as Teachers Extraordinaire and had been to Germany twice before.  I would go where she wanted to go and do what she wanted to do.  Annalise planned a trip that would take us through northern Germany, having already seen much of the central and southern areas on previous trips.  She mapped out a circular route that would take us to a Baltic sea resort, over to the border of Denmark, and then back around  to Berlin, traveling by train and stopping in some of the smaller, but still very scenic and of course historic towns.  Little in Germany is not historic, as we would find out.  That I was on this trip at all was a bit of a surprise.  All year, Annalise had been planning on doing this trip with a friend, but when it came time to get the plane tickets, her friend discovered she couldn’t make the trip.  And so I sacrificed, as any good mother would.  And so here I was, bumbling my way through our first day and heading into our second day with little knowledge of where it would take us.

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Teddy consults a map.