Sunday, August 8, 2010

Goodbye Berlin

Our last day in Berlin, Rob took some time to himself
and headed out for the day.
I gave him the address of a shoe store
I had found the day before,
shopper extraordinaire that I am, where I located some really boss
yellow sneaker type shoes to replace his beloved pair he
got 3 years ago, but have sadly seen much better days.
I got a text from him a few hours later, saying that he had
been to the store and bought not only the yellow pair, but
a black pair that he selected all on his own!
What a shopper!
I wonder if he has a spending problem?
Rob was quite happy tromping around on his own
we came to find out later.
That left me and the kids to our own devices. First task of the day
was to find some boxes to ship all that crap to Italy that filled up my 3
suitcases. We were going to being flying to Italy the next day on
Air Berlin and I had neglected to read the fine print on free
baggage allowance. Seems that this airline is a bit stricter than most,
you are allowed one free checked bag at 22 kilos, and then any additional baggage is
10 euro per kilo!!!
I nearly had a heart attack.
I had about 30 + kilos in excess weight,
so that was going to be about 300 euro, or $400 to be exact,
for me to get all those
outfits to Italy.
Hmmm, this was a very serious problem and not one that
I wanted to share with Rob just yet.
So I waited til he went off on his solo man adventure
before I started problem solving.
I had been keeping my eyes open for cartons
being recycled on the sidewalk in front of stores,
but so far, nothing.
I don't know how or where they dispose of them.

I tried to engage Jesse and Corey in my task.
I forgot momentarily that they aren't toddlers anymore
and they are pretty hip to my shenanigans.
The adventure of looking for shipping cartons held absolutely
NO allure for them whatsoever.
Not to mention it was allready about 900 degrees out at 9am.
So I bribed them with coffee and pastry, they
grudgingly accompagnied me.

We set out for the Kaiser supermarket down the street.
Nothing there but produce boxes with the large airholes in them,
not suitable for shipping and mailing.
So I had to think quickly on my feet and ask myself;
"What kind of retailer would have daily deliveries that would always have an abundance of boxes on hand that they would
need to dispose of?
A pharmacy- an APOTEK,
why, I had seen them on just about every corner!
Yup, sure enough, there was one across the street from
Kaiser Supermarket.
I parked the kids at the caffe on the corner with their coffee and pastry bribe as they were quickly losing it.
I entered the Apotek and explained to the pharmacist what I was after.
I speak NO german, and she didn't speak much English, but somehow
she was able to understand me after a lot of pantomime and words like
She went in the back room and brought our a magnificent carton, heavy duty,
that could withstand high impact and it was the size of a suitcase.
But it wasn't enough for my 30 kilos of outfits and assorted stuff.
So I had the gall to ask her for another carton.
She kindly went in the back again and this time
brought out a carton of equal size and durability.
This one however, had not been unpacked of its contents.
She patiently unpacked all the bottles of drugs, etc. and gave me the box.
Her kindness was so appreciated.
I thanked her profusely.
She was my Apotek angel that appeared in my hour of need.
Now I would not need to burden
dear Rob with my excess baggage problem.
Back to the kids and their coffee.

The next step in this adventure was getting 30 kilos and 2 large empty
cartons to the post office which was over a mile away. Jesse at this point
was completely melting down (he doesn't do well with this kind of fun)
and Corey was up for the adventure since he had just downed several
double espressos. So we sent Jesse home and Corey and I hailed
a cab to the Deutsche Post.
8 euros and 4 minutes later.

We enter the Deutsche Post which is hyper organized and extremely
efficient. Corey comments how we need to find a "workstation".
We select a part of the store that is devoid of people and plenty of room
to spread out the 30 kilos of stuff and pack it up.
I taught Corey how to pack a box
and surround it with many meters of shipping
tape. Actually, what I hope that I taught him
through the experience was how to be
resourceful, think on one's feet, and solve
the problem at hand. I think he enjoyed the experience.
The morning was great fun and one of my treasured
travel experiences with my kids.

And there it goes,
30 kilos of junk all for the price
of 75 euro as opposed to the 300 euro it would have cost on Air Berlin...
I feel so accomplished!
But wait, I am feeling so light and airy, no
excess baggage to be weighted down with and
on the way back to the apartment, I see an oil
painting on the sidewalk in front of an antique/junk store
that leaves me breathless!
Corey, l must have a look!
I bargain with the gentleman,
get the painting for a song,
take it off the stretcher bars, roll it up, and trot off
happily to pack it in my recently arrived at 22 kilo suitcase.
We collect Jesse and hightail it over to to meet Dad at Hackescher Market area,with his new shoes.
We then run into Wolfgang and Marie, who happened to
be driving by and noticed us looking like befuddled tourists
with our maps out.

We made a tentative plan to get together for dinner and I got
to take my family to Marie's Doll Kingdom.
Even Corey and Jesse were impressed with the glass eyeballs.
Wolfgang, Marie, and Udo took us to a local outdoor
Beirgarten close to their neighborhood.
It was a very festive atmosphere, hundreds of long communal tables
with people feasting on fresh sausages, corn on the cob, beer and
I cant remember what else.
We all enjoyed ourselves tremendously and loved
our new Berlin friends.
A delightful evening was had by all and we said goodbye, but promised to
return soon.
The next morning, the day of our flight to Italy,
it was torrential rain, and
we had our newly packed 45 lb. suitcases to navigate
to the taxi cue about 10 minutes away so we could get to the airport.
No umbrellas.
Rob and I did some makeshift rain gear.
Rob bravely made his way to the taxi stand.

We made it to the airport with time to spare,
the Air Belin clerk barely glanced at our
22 kilo bags and all was well.
I was sad to leave,
Berlin was fantastic and I loved it all.
It is a very creative, artistic, avant guarde
city, and I barely scratched the surface.
The people that I met were so kind and
hospitable and I know that I will be
back before too long.


Anonymous said...

I feel like I was there and packed every piece of useless have to have crap in those boxes. Thank God you found the boxes and the Poste, I would have died if you left anything behind in Berlin that you needed to drag home to Portland! I am relieved, a bit worn out and happy to have spent that last day with you in Berlin! Ciao! Love Mari Ane

Chu said...

amazing.. life is so good..

hugs my friend..

Anonymous said...

You are unbelievably resourceful. But, you look ridiculous in the "rain gear", it is all too funny. And honestly, you look like an angel, so free and so happy, like you are really Mrs. Stacey, actually enjoying her life, every day. You've come a long way baby.

(the other)
Mrs. Stacey