Berlin day 1

To Berlin

A travel day Sunday from Spain to Berlin. Having travelled on several airlines of different origin, it is a universal finding that ALL inflight magazines imply that by owning a Swiss watch, a man can climb Mt Everest, dive to 1000m below sea level or fly a Tiger Moth around the pyramids.

And another thing, duty free shopping – forget it! Giorgio Armani clothes Chanel Cosmetics, Polo Ralph Lauren Men store, Burberry, Escada, Bvlgari and Montblanc, Nikon, Sony, Alcohol, Tobacco: they are the “Baker’s Delight” of ALL airport terminals and once one converts ( If possible) there is not that much of a difference between here and there in terms of price. Arguably the one exception is alcohol, specifically Licquers and spirits? A bottle of Tia Maria, Cointreau or limoncello for me ( or GIN for my friends). Not having been to the Gulf countries, perhaps all things may be cheaper there?

Perhaps my professional Cathay Pacific First Officer contacts may care to comment.

Flying from Barcelona to Madrid and across to Germany, reinforced how much the geology and terrain in Spain appears similar to Australia. ( at least at 30,000 feet! Spain had a record dry winter and hot summer, the country was parched brown fields of wheat and occasional green of vineyards and olive trees.

‘Subtly all aircraft are different…” even in Spain and Germany, so WATCH the bloody safety demo as we taxi! One still needs to blow up the life jacket and blow the whistle to attract attention. The cabin crew,thankfully, in all countries “arm the doors” , BUT it was only ANSETT that “cross checked” – perhaps that is why they went bust? Also passengers don’t have ’emergency evacuations’ any more. The guiding lights still come on! Who cares anyway, if we are about to crash, who amongst us would NOT have an emergency evacuation, even before we hit the ground?

When Osley and I flew from Adelaide to Alice Springs, we were very attentive to the emergency procedures. and when completed, I explained to the hostess, that my travelling companion came from Brazil and was a little confused as to which ocean were were flying across? She was confused and not amused – a mandated requisite in personality combinations for Qantas cabin crew.

On Monday I walked for about 8 hours! I found that reading a city map in German is much easier than in Spanish. I was rarely confused until it came to returning! Confidently I set out for my hotel, eventually discovering that I was heading in the general direction of Egypt.

The local baker shop in Berlin is as common as the beer and winer bars in Spain. A ‘croissant’ is an universal word describing… well ….a croissant! However entering a german bakery and saying “Ich bin ein Berliner” , does NOT mean : I would like one of those round, deep fried, battered balls covered in sugar and filled with strawberry jam”.

The first such bread and cake shop that drew me like a magnetic, to my horror appeared to have flies buzzing inside the display counter! A closer inspection, revealed they were BEES! Now I know why its called a Bienenstich.

Keep left or right? That is the question. The roads are one thing but when it comes to footpaths, stairs, escalators, cycle paths, its chaos! Crossing the road is also akin to bungy jumping or worse still parachuting. I reflexly look to the left then the right, or as the childhood ditty went ” look to the left and look to the right then look to the left again, and you will never ever, ever get run over”….this works in Australia BUT not Europe.

I must admit that I rather like the guttural German language especially when listening to a deep male voice. It instantly reminds me of Mozart and The Magic Flute, specifically Sarastro the Bass Baritone and his wonderful arias.

I have occasionally had a coffee at a Starbucks cafe where I find I am surrounded by young Germans with their MacBook Air surfing the net!

Basically on Monday I walked along Strasse de 17 Juni to the Brandenberg Gate and long an avenue Unter den Linden then to Alexanderplaz, the Museum island ( to which I will return for a full day) and then top Hackescher Market, returning home via The Tiergerten with a stop over in Egypt.