24 days in Europe.
I’m not sure I have the words. It’s a good thing I have pictures. This is going to take a few posts, and I’ll sprinkle them into the “returning to real-life” ones this fall. For example, I “race” in a few days. I’m pretty confident I can limp through a sprint triathlon on very little training, but I won’t lie, I’m curious if I can make it through 3 miles of running without walking right now. Walking 10 miles and standing for hours? Sure. Running? Yeah…
Anyhoo, let’s get to the travel part. 🙂
We flew out at 4pm on Monday and using our time travel powers to blast into the future, we landed in Berlin at about 1:30pm Tuesday after a quick change in Frankfurt. I was a little apprehensive about a 10+ hour flight, but the plane was rather comfortable even in the coachiest of coach seats and with a cruising altitude of 40k feet it was smooth as silk. As the sun set, we were served some tortellini and salad for dinner, accompanied by unlimited wine/beer (we had 2 just to relax). I tried to get some sleep, and I might have found 45 mins total here and there, but I really just tucked into my book.
Like 3 hours later – since we had crossed about 5 time zones, the sun came up. It was bizarre. Then, they served us a veggie sandwich and some yogurt for breakfast and it was pretty much time to be awake again!
After deplaning, we waited for all our luggage. And waited… and waited… and finally we gave up on our coworker’s bag and headed to the hotel. The girls’ taxi driver was very calm, and the boys’ was apparently CRAZY and arrived the same time even though they departed 15 mins earlier. We checked in, took a very quick shower, and ambled to work for some meetings.
The Berlin wall was half a block from the hotel and was the backdrop to half of the commute. It was interesting that such a heavy and significant piece of history is now covered in colorful modern art and I didn’t take nearly as many pictures of it as I wanted. We toured the office, made introductions to faces that had previously just been names in emails, and had some in person meetings not possible before this trip, it was super nice to connect!
We ate doners and then our coworkers walked us almost the whole way home, and we paused at an outdoor bar for one beer to watch the sunset on the Spree.
We begged off quickly and slept for 12 hours. It was glorious!
After a lovely hotel room arm workout and breakfast, we assembled our crew and made the trek again to the office for a full day of work. It was very productive in the quiet hours of the German morning while everyone in the US was asleep and later we gathered for marketing strategy meetings in person in the same time zone (again, so novel). Then, my folks in the US started waking up and I squeezed in as many meetings as possible before they put a beer in front of me and then kicked us out to go have fun.
We took a train to the other side of town and went to a biergarten, where I had my first currywurst (it was… adequate… very much drinking/kids food).
After enough beer, I required somewhere that would serve me something else, so we wandered the streets of Berlin and made our way to a nightclub in an alleyway, which sounds incredibly sketchy but apparently is super normal here.
After a few hours of excellent company and conversation, we were getting sleepy, and retired to the hotel to have one more beverage/water before bed, and all of a sudden, the sun started to threaten the darkness much earlier than expected. The hotel’s breakfast had just opened, so we grabbed a bite to eat and then crashed. Jet lag is rough.
We didn’t sleep long enough but our orders for the day were to NOT work and to go sightsee, so we obeyed. We saw the Brandenburg gate, a beautiful park, the capital building, and then wandered along the Spree for a while before we stopped for some late lunch and listened to some awful tourists complain to the waiter that there was no AC. I get it, but do you see air conditioning around here anywhere? Please read the
room city. It’s not like they can magic the mostly outdoor restaurant cold for you. Sigh.
After many kilometers (I’ll try to use the metric system here on out!) on foot for the day, we took the train back to the hotel, intending to perhaps get a little work done. We missed our exit and got off at one a few miles away intending to turn right around and catch the return train 5 minutes later. It didn’t appear, and then everyone was gone. I knew enough German to look at the signs that had schedules now said, “Police warning” and told my people we should probably vacate the premises and find out what’s going on. Officials directed us out of the station and out to the streets, where I overheard “die bombe”, and we confirmed later that they found an old WW2 bomb near that stop.
Apparently, it’s a normal thing in Berlin but was pretty wild for us. It also meant we had a pretty long walk ahead of us (5k+ in over 30C heat) and found ourselves sweaty, exhausted, and enough time just to shower and pack and get ourselves to the train. Luckily, we had some nice seats with a table, so I got some work done anyway, and watched the German countryside go by at hundreds of kilometers per hour.
Without incident, we arrived in Hamburg at around 9pm, checked into our hotel which was 200m away from the train station, and found excellent Turkish food right across the street.
More about Hamburg next time!