Hello from Berlin! We got here safe and sound. Many thanks to those who wrote their well-wishes for the trip. Nakakapagod, pero enjoy. I am able to snatch a few minutes of internet time (of course I wrote this post offline first, hehe), so time for an update. I don’t know when I’d be able to post again, so might as well try posting one while we’re here.
Although Berlin is the capital city of Germany, ironically, it doesn’t accommodate international flights from Japan. All flights from Japan are routed via other major cities like Frankfurt, or in our case, Amsterdam. We took the KLM flight because we wanted to gain points for our mileage program, hehe. So after an 11-hour non-stop flight from Narita to Amsterdam, we found ourselves “stranded” at the Schipol Airport for another four hours before boarding another flight for Berlin.
Baggy was able to catch a few winks while lying on the chair, but I wasn’t able to because Aya kept pestering me. For some reason, she was frisky, alive-alert-awake-enthusiastic when we arrived in Amsterdam. No rest for the poor mom.
When we arrived at the Tegel airport in Berlin, we immediately looked for a taxi to take us to the hotel. The first taxi we approached had a driver who immediately shook his head at us and shooed us away, for some reason we couldn’t understand. He talked to us in German and pointed at Aya. He then gestured to the next taxi in line, whose driver was only too glad to have us. The woman (yes, a woman!) immediately took out a child seat from her car’s trunk and smiled and nodded at us several times, as if to assure us that we’d be in good hands. So apparently, the first taxi who refused to let us ride was because he didn’t have a child seat in his taxi. Hmm. Interesting. This is the first time for me to be in a country where child seats are mandatory, even for public vehicles. This is not enforced in Japan. There is a law, of course, for private vehicles about using child seats. But I could see for myself that many people just don’t bother putting their children on child seats anymore. I think the law enforcers are getting way too slack on this matter.
Anyway, our hotel is within the Charlottesburg district. Our first day was spent exploring the immediate area within our hotel. I was shocked, though, to find a relatively modern city, devoid of any distinctly old and ancient buildings or structures. Save for the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which happens to be one of Berlin’s best-known sights. The chuch was built in 1891-1895 in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm I. Much of the building was destroyed during the World War II. What remains of it still stands, and is flanked on both sides by modern structures, which looked pretty drab on the outside but rocks on the inside. The inside of the octagonal chapel is decorated blue stained glass windows on all sides. It is simply stunning.
(Pictures to follow!)
Fortunately, Joy, a fellow Pinay and who is one of my long-time friends and also lived in Tsukuba several years ago, is also here with her family. What a happy reunion! I guess, as long as our husbands attend the same conference, there would always be an opportunity for us to meet. 😉 The last time we met was about three years ago, when her husband attended the same conference in Kyoto. Anyway, during our second day, Joy and her daughter Sinta were kind enough to give us a tour to Tiergarten and Mitte districts.