The journey to the airport unfolded exactly as planned. By 5:15am I was in the check-in line at EasyJet. As it turned out, however, my departure was not so smooth. The 6:30 departure dragged to 7:30 and finally at 9:00 we were heading through the now murky skies of London. I wonder if that signaled the end of the “water drought” and the start of the “sun drought”. The delay? First it was having boarded too many people, then it was the negotiations with a security conscious, World-Cup-wary German Air Traffic Control for landing space. Yikes. All I could think of was my friends Jason and Michelle Kennedy waiting for me at the airport.
Bless their hearts they were still waiting for me when I arrived. Now I also need to interject another piece of information at this point. The night before I had received some incredibly bad news. Our friend, and these days fellow Edmontonian, Marc Dyke’s father had fallen through a roof he had been working on in St John’s, Newfoundland and was in a coma. I sadly imparted this news to Jason as I stepped out of the airport. I wanted to check my email for further news.
So our first stop in Berlin was Jason and Michelle’s apartment in former East Berlin. There are many things I like about Berlin and wish I could take back to Edmonton:
- Fantastic subway, train and tram systems. On time, efficient and frequent with great coverage. Bless Edmonton Transit Services for adding one more station this past year after four years on one of the most useless light rail lines I have ever seen.
- Great European bread. Need I say more?
- The ability to drink beer anywhere. Yes on the road, on the subway, in front of a cop. Brilliant. So bloody civilized.
- The cost of beer. Here is a place where beer is cheaper than water. I was in for trouble.
Immediately we went to have a picnic with bottles of beer, bread and cheese. This is where Berlin becomes a very small place. I knew that Greg Zeschuk and his brother Brad were going to be in Berlin for the World Cup. They had tickets, the lucky bastards. Greg is the president of the company I work for: BioWare. Earlier I had called his number to no avail. About to sit for some eats, I get a tap on the shoulder and there they are! What a small world, he had seen me whilst walking in a city of several million, swollen even larger by the World Cup!
First day in Berlin involved much walking in the heat and supper at an Indian restaurant in the somewhat dodgy Kreuzburg district. The meal was good but the aftermath left a lot to be desired. Let me rewind a bit.
Before I let Edmonton, my friend Sue Thomson had handed me a fantastic book: “How to Shit Around The World“. During my rather pleasant flight on Zoom to London I had partaken in the glorification of our personal evacuation systems and the way they get irritated in a million and one ways during travel.
Lo and behold as the Indian food entered my sleep deprived (remember I had now been on the go for over twenty hours) and undernourished, beer-filled stomach, the nether gates of hell were opened. Standing on a platform waiting for the S-Bahn just past midnight, the devil was unleashed and I left Jason and Michelle in a sprint for one of Berlin’s many incredibly clean streetside toilets. Having survived my first bout of travelers’ stomach, I headed to bed.