September 22 was a travel day, putting an end to our time in Berlin and, for us, kicking off the Oktoberfest celebration. Before leaving the US, we purchased a group train ticket that was only good for a specific train, so it was imperative that we all make it to the Hauptbahnhof on time (Technically it was imperative that I be there on time. The ticket was in my name; I could have left the rest of the group behind…). We made plans to meet at the Starbucks across from the rest of the group’s hotel and then ride the U-Bahn from there, leaving well in advance of the departure time (On my suggestion…) to give ourselves more than enough time.
The next morning it took a little longer than I expected to pack up, meaning I left my hotel shortly after the meeting time. Since it was probably a ten minute walk to the Starbucks, this made me worrying late and I ended up meeting Jason and Dave coming to my hotel to look for me.
Already late, we needed to buy U-Bahn tickets. An annoyingly slow kiosk prevented us from catching the first train the we saw at the station, and due to it being Sunday the next one wasn’t due for some time. This caused some stress for the group. I learned that Dave in particular hates risking missing flights or trains.
Once on the train I made an offhand comment that perhaps we should have walked further to another U-Bahn station to avoid a change of trains. This shocked (Shocked!) Kortni because she and I had apparently had a spirited debate about this very topic the day before, with my taking the opposite side. I had no recollection of that. In my defense, I was tired at the time?
Luckily we made the necessary transfers successfully and arrived at the Hauptbahnhof with enough time to get breakfast. Without an overwhelming amount of time, we picked the first food we saw, which happened to be a McDonald’s. Unlike Jason and Dave, who ordered with no trouble, the kiosk we used didn’t give me a receipt. It was a little worrying but I ended up getting my food just a few minutes before the scheduled departure. I walked down the escalator with my food as the train pulled into the station, so in the end, we made it on-board and found our way to our seats.
German trains are amazing. In order to sit together on the trip, we ended up buying first-class tickets, which gave us plenty of space. The two couples shared a table and I sat across the aisle, sharing a smaller table of my own with a nice older German lady. When she sat down she started talking very excitedly to me in German. After about half a minute she paused, I said “Sprechen Sie Englisch?,” and she gave me a very disappointed smile and didn’t speak to me again.
The trip itself was uneventful. We chatted, snoozed, and watched the scenery go by. Several hours into the trip I did drink a couple beers procured from the convenient dining car.
To celebrate Jason’s birthday, Elizabeth suggested that we all buy tickets to a Berlin Beer Tour and surprise Jason with them when we arrived in Berlin. It was a fun idea and the tour turned out to be great. We went into it thinking we’d get to visit three different spots and ended up visiting at least twice that, with stops for Currywurst and Bierliquor sprinkled in as well.
We met Bastian (short for Sebastian), the guide, and the rest of the tour at the Weihenstephaner beer hall in Hackeschen Markt. That was also our first stop, which was convenient. The tour guide was a little worried because we had just enjoyed a liter in their Biergarten, but we assured him that it was fine and things got underway.
In addition to the five of us, there were three others on the tour, plus Bastian. There was Jenny, a British woman who was clearly there to spend quality time with Bastian, and another couple from the UK: a rugby player named Tom and his girlfriend Celeste.
The morning of September 21 was clear, an ideal day for sightseeing. We needed to be in Hackescher Markt later in the day for a Berlin Breweries Tour, so we headed to the eastern part of the city and started exploring.
In fact, our first stop was Hackescher Markt on the way to Alexanderplatz and the TV-Tower. Kortni bought a Nutella crêpe from a vendor who made it in front of us, and Dave and I bought bratwurst on rolls. Mine was delicious; unfortunately, his was not fully cooked and so he only ate about ⅔ of his.
Our second day in Berlin was a little rainy, but that worked out ok because we spent most of the day inside. Our goal was to visit the Deutsches Historisches Museum, which is basically the German Smithsonian (Note: I have not been to the Smithsonian.). En route to the museum, though, we ran into a couple of other sights which piqued our interest.
Between the U-Bahn and the museum we walked through an upscale shopping area where there was a Mercedes showroom / museum. They had several old Mercedes as well as some of their higher-end cars on display. Remo was very excited as he is a passionate Mercedes Man. In fact, one of his (unfulfilled) goals for the trip was to rent a Mercedes and drive it on the Autobahn. Alas, the showroom would have to do. He and Kortni did buy some memorabilia as gifts.
Our story picks up after our late lunch at Maximillions. Our hunger sated, and four of us fairly delirious with exhaustion (Elizabeth has been in Europe for two weeks already, performing an audit of the Luxembourg office), we decided to head into a more residential area of the city for more beers. Remo had heard of a microbrewery called Hops and Barley, an idea that appealed to all.
Well this is happening. pic.twitter.com/pKYzrKQoSK
— Brian Holt (@bpholt) September 19, 2013
Hallo aus Deutschland! I’ve been in Germany for several days, on a trip to celebrate the 30th birthdays of me and my friends Jason and David. Of course Elizabeth and Kortni are here as well. We spent three days in Berlin before taking the train to Munich for Oktoberfest!
Having been to Germany a couple times before, but never to Berlin, I was excited to see the capital city. I met Jason, Dave, and Kortni, who flew together, at the airport. After a short bus ride we arrived at our hotels and checked in, and Elizabeth joined us shortly after. I stayed at the Hampton Berlin City West with the rest of the group staying at the nearby Kempinski Hotel Bristol Berlin. It was a fairly convenient spot, with a nearby U-Bahn (subway) stop, Starbucks, Irish Pub, and döner kebap stand, thereby meeting all our immediate needs.