Monday, July 30, 2007

Berlin Day 3 (Part 1) - Pick a train, ANY train!

So yeeeaaaahhhh, Day 3. I should have known what a day it would have been, after the first hour.

Well, after waking up, I gather my stuff because it was time to check out. Couldn't leave the bags there because check out time was like around 11am or so. Well, I get down to the lobby and there was a line to checkout, so I figured I'd sit in the lobby and check out the internet. Supposedly, they had wireless available in the lobby. Well, laptop wasn't able to see it that morning, or if anything it was going in and out, so it wasn't worth it. So I close it up and go check out. Well, the lady there was already a bit on edge with having to deal with a bus load of elderly trying to get out of there. Busy morning and pretty rough from the little I saw. So I get up to her and she was saying 2 breakfasts? Thinking that it was included "sure, what the heck" (I didn't actually have the 2nd breakfast...) and she tried to charge me for both? Well, I corrected that one quickly enough. But the lady still wasn't having a good time, but whatever. I'm not about to get charged 8 euros for a continental breakfast.

So, as I'm walking on down to the train station, snapping off a picture of the closed businesses (thinking once again of Mrs. C's statement that most places were closed on Sunday), I knew that I needed something food wise, if I was going to be riding around berlin. And I remembered, Fat Tires Brochure had discounts! Yup, got one for Dunkin Donuts! (Although I forgot to use it) Remembered right when I sat down. :-/ Well, it was across the street from the local station, so I finished off my two donuts and drink and walked to the ticket office. I still had that one problem with having no ticket! Figured I'd get the problem resolved as soon as I was up. Ugh, another headache. None of the ladies at the ticket window knew english. So it was a major headache flipping through my translation guide, trying to explain to them that I had no ticket. It was a probably a good 20 to 30 minutes, and 3 (yes, folks count them THREE!) ticket agents later that they explained to me that seeing I made the purchase online there wasn't a thing they could do... WHAT??? Online purchases and straight ticket purchases aren't really connected??? What kind of business... Okay, so I gather up my stuff, grab the phone number that the ticket agent gave me, and started looking for a phone.

Well, I'm sure all of you know about those jokes about New York stations and no phones? I think Die Hard 3 hit the nail on that one, with Samuel L Jackson finding one out of 3 working phones and it was being used... Well, it wasn't that bad here, but oooooh, it got close. All the pay phones here from what I can find out is a pay by minute phones, no standard charge 25 cents or something like that and talk for however long you want to. Nope. Nothing like that here. You either had the phones that only took cards, or pay the minute (if NOT SECONDS!!!). So there were like 14 stalls for phones right? Well, half of them were empty, half of the half were only card phones, which left about 3 as coins. Which was fine because there was only one being used. So no problem, I dropped a coin in and made the call (not yet, realizing the pay by the second), so I get to elevator music, when it cuts out. Did it give me a warning, saying "hey, deposit more money if you want to talk longer!"??? Nope, shutdown! Gah, more headaches. So about 5 euros later, I find out that I had two options, either I try to explain my situation to the conductor when I board the train (which as the gentleman on the line was saying, and I found out, that it was the weekend, and might not find anyone who spoke english), ooooor I go pay for another ticket and they would refund me the money paid. I went with the second option. It would save from the headaches, or so I thought. :-/

So ticket in hand (it was a different train because the other was filled), I went next door to the Fat Tire depot that they had right there. Yes, folks, they do have 2 locations in Berlin. Which was GREAT for me! Well, I rented a bike for a half day, got it around 11am, and the guy said, whenever I got it back 3pm or 4pm, didn't matter, as long as I didn't stretch it from there. Well, I dropped off my clothes bag there for Fat Tire to watch over (kept my laptop and valuables with me, just in case) ;-) and away I went!

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