I was very sad to leave France yesterday. VERY sad. We had such a wonderful time and could have easily spent another month there and not tired of it. We were getting a little hot... no AC in the apartment and days were creeping up to the 90 degree mark (with humidity). We would come home from walks drenched in sweat with little opportunity to cool down. But, aside from that, we had such a wonderful time that I have found myself Googling "how to move to France" a number of times.
Nonetheless, early yesterday morning, we boarded a regional Air France flight to Berlin. It only took about 90 minutes, and it was so weird knowing that we had made such an abrupt cultural change in such a short period of time. We landed at Teigel Airport - which is the "other" Berlin airport. According to a lovely woman we met (more on her in a minute), it is a relic from the cold war when flights could only go to either East or West Berlin, depending on their origin. Nonetheless, this place was TINY! We landed a little ways away from the building and were immediately shuttled on little busses (it was literally a 90 second ride) into an airport Mike compared to Little Rock, but I think of as similar to the Boise airport.... although I think Boise might be bigger. We had our luggage and were out the door (no customs because of the Euro zone) in less than 10 minutes. Yup, you read that right... we went from airplane to curbside in about 15 total minutes. It was weird. We looked at each other and I said "I hope we flew to Berlin and not some other German city". I could not imagine getting out of McCarran in such a short period of time.
So, we took a cab to our apartment and after some miscommunications, finally got into our temporary home. The person I rented the apartment from misunderstood my arrival time, so no one was actually here for us. We wandered the complex aimlessly for a while and ended up having coffee with a wonderful German woman that helped us make the appropriate phone calls. She kept us company for almost an hour, chatting and being a wonderful introduction to Berlin. She told us that when Berlin hosted the world cup in 2006, their motto was to treat their guests as friends (she couldn't remember the exact translation), but since no one ever told them that policy was over, she figured it still applied. :)
So, we then spent some time in our apartment and then went across the street to the market to pick up some groceries since everything in closed on Sunday. EVERYTHING. I grant, I am spoiled living in Las Vegas. If I want some Louis Vuitton stilettos at 2 in the morning, I can probably get them. But here, no. In some ways, it is better than France. Things there were mostly closed by 6pm, except for tourist areas. Also, things were closed two days a week... half or all of Sunday and then one random weekday. There was not a lot of rhyme or reason to it -- some chose Monday (traditional day), others chose Wednesday. One guy picked Tuesdays. Who knows. Here, things seem to stay open a little later (8 or 9), but are CLOSED on Sunday. No exceptions. I guess it is German law. Fortunately, I figured that out yesterday. However, we are fortunate enough to live just down the block from the central train station, where stores are allowed to be open on Sundays. They got a government exception.
From there, we explored the city a little. We went on a crazy manhunt for a fan -- as it is a record setting hot weekend in Germany. Heat index of around 100 without AC. It has literally never been this hot in Berlin. The people on the news are freaking out. It seems that wherever Mike and I travel, we land in freakish heat waves... Italy, NYC, DC, you name it. If there has been a heatwave in the last five years, we have been there. It is supposed to cool off in the next few days, but these first couple have been brutal.
Since it was so hot, we decided to go the one place we knew it would be cool... the cinema. We went to see the new Transformers movie. Don't even get me started on the plot. There are insane plot holes that you could drive a transforming semi-truck though. But, the special effects were good and it was cool. That is all that counts. On our way home, we realized that our train had stopped running about 15 minutes prior (it was 130 in the morning) and we had to convince a cab driver that we knew where we lived....
Fortunately, the German people have been very nice. They speak so much more English than we speak German (thank God) and unlike the French, they aren't averse to using it. :)