Sunday, September 2, 2012

Berlin diary - Day 1

I know, I know. I've been MIA for so long in the blogosphere.  Blame it on a super busy summer season, filled with meetings and conferences. While I'll be traveling to more meetings in the coming months, I decided it was time to take a short breather and take to my blog to tell you about my current adventure.

Today I find myself in Berlin, Germany attending perhaps the biggest scientific conference in Europe in my field.  Getting here took ~7hrs flight from DC to Frankfurt, and a little over an hour more from Frankurt to Berlin.  The new Schonefield international airport here in Berlin was scheduled to open in June but that was pushed back, so I landed in Tegel.  I was pleasantly surprised at how small this airport was!  I got off the plane, made a left turn and was greeted by the conveyor belt where I waited for my luggage for only approximately 15 minutes.  Seriously, it reminded me of the little Gainesville airport in Florida. A few more steps, and the cabs were awaiting.  By the way, the german word for taxi is "Taxi". :)

My taxi driver was pleasant and tried his best to communicate with me in English to make sure that I was comfortable. So there. While people always tend to have an impression that Germans are not exactly friendly, I would say that his greetings made me think that they were. One major note if you come here, the cabs don't take credit card, so make sure you bring Euros with you. Also, tipping is optional, but it makes you (and your driver) feel really good if you do.

On the way to the hotel, I noticed how clean the city is.  The highways aren't big, but there seem to be no traffic.  Then again, it is the weekend.  I'm glad that I took a cab instead of renting a car.  The signs, of course, were all in german, but I enjoyed seeing the speed limits posted in kmph.  Ok, the signs just said the numbers, but you know that they use the metric system here.

I am staying at the Estrel hotel, a grand hotel adjacent to the Convention center with ultra-modern and clean lines inside and outside. After sleeping for only 4hrs on the whole ride, I was ready to call it a night.  First on the agenda, however, was dinner.  Thankfully, the hotel also boasts of a sunlit atrium lined up with array of mid- to upscale restaurants so I did not need to drag myself out of slumber. I saw a german pub, briefly looked at the menu, which was all lined with meat, and chose to go with Italian instead.  Besides, if I'm going to enjoy a real german meal, I would not get it in a hotel. I would, however, enjoy a beer before going to bed. After all, I'm in Germany - the beer capital of the world? - and I'm only a month off in the Oktoberfest celebration.

Gute nacht!

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