I've left sunny Spain for sunny Germany, and while I'll definitely miss the pintxos, I feel ready for beer and doners. But I have to say, my introduction to my time here last night was not so glorious. The flight from Palma de Mallorca, where I was connected after a quick hop from Bilbao, was slightly delayed, and once off the plane we all stood watching the baggage carousel go round and round in very close quarters. Two flights had arrived simlutaneously, it was late, and I was surrounded by Germans who wanted the same two things I did: to get their suitcase and get out of here.
Of course, I normally don't check my bag, but I have a little liquid souvenir this time, so I had no choice. Finally it appeared, and I headed out to catch a bus heading downtown. By this time it was already after 11:30, and I felt like death warmed over.
Go figure that I got what must have been Berlin's rudest bus driver. When I boarded the bus and attempted to very politely ask him a question about where best to disembark for my destination (in German, naturally), he irritatedly mumbled something completely unintelligible, waved me away and did not even glance in my direction. Well! Welcome to Berlin, indeed. I was too tired, not to mention stunned by the fact that I understood not a single word he had said, to follow up, so instead meekly found a seat.
Fortunately, the bus trip was fast and easy, and after getting off at the last stop I finally felt that I was in the home stretch. The hostel I stayed at, Hotel Transit Loft (which, by the way, is awesome), was clearly marked on the little Rick Steves map for hotels and restaurants in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. Or so I thought. But sinister forces were at work, and Hotel Transit Loft was nowhere to be found. It looks like our guidebook could use a little correction with this map - not a very pleasant surprise when roaming unknown streets after midnight with all one's luggage.
But the people on the streets of Prenzlauer Berg speak both clearly and politely when questioned, so after talking to three or four people, with the help of the address provided on the email I had printed from the hostel, I made it to my destination around 1am. The young woman at the desk was cheerful and helpful, even letting me know that if it was too loud (since my room was adjacent to the common area which hosts an all night bar) I just needed to let them know. I assured her I was so tired that it would be no problem, and I was right.
And now, fortified with a good German breakfast of whole grain bread, cheese, yogurt, and coffee, I'm off to rediscover Berlin!