Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Using the Berlin Metro...

Monday 2nd June 2014: I had a number of choices open to me this morning: take a taxi to the convention, ride a bike there, catch the bus or walk. In all honesty, I don't like taking cabs as I think they're too extravagant. I'll only take a cab if I need to, like in Indianapolis a week or two ago when it was plainly obvious that to do anything else might have been too risky. As avid readers will recall, I was staying in the bad side of town and I had been advised not to go out on foot but to take a cab. Furthermore, I was too far from the downtown to consider anything other than a cab.

Berlin metro (at Wittenberg Platz) otherwise known as the Untergrund Bahn.
 In Berlin, however, everything appears to be so convenient: there's a metro station just a short walk from the hotel. I decided to leave the bikes until I have some free time (like tomorrow afternoon) and walking was out of the question and I'm glad I didn't bother as, when I reached the Brandenberg Gate, having taken the metro from Wittenberg to Potsdamer Platz and then walking the remaining 750 yards, past the holocaust memorial, which never fails to impress, I discovered that the Kempinski hotel I required was not the Adlon Kempinski, where Michael Jackson famously dangled his newborn out of the window, but the Kempinski Bristol, which was a short cab ride away. Time wise I was fine so I jumped into a cab and off I went, only to discover that taking the metro, walking past the memorial, getting into a taxi and all the rest of it could have been avoided as it is possible to walk from my hotel. Having said that, it took around 30 minutes to walk back as I tried it out tonight and have just returned from to the conference. Admittedly I took a stroll along a few side roads en route, but nevertheless it's a fair old hike. The great thing, of course, is that it cost me nothing and I'm now planning to walk to the conference in the morning.

I was up very early this morning (around 0630hrs) and once showered and shaved I headed downstairs to sample the hotel breakfast and it was really good. Not that I'm a great eater. I opted for yoghurt, muesli and a bowl of fresh fruit plus a cup of tea and that was my lot and then I hit the road for the short stroll to the metro station and a fairly short ride to Potsdamer Platz followed by everything I've already detailed above.

Most Berlin hotels offer bike hire for EUR10.
Where the bikes are concerned, the private hire offered by most hotels almost negates the need for a bike share scheme. Wherever I go I see padlocked bikes being advertised for hire (always for between 10 and 12 Euros) and, as I've said already, my hotel (like virtually every hotel in town) is no exception.

The other good thing on the bike front is that there are dedicated cycle lanes everywhere and this, of course, prompts people to ride as they know they are safe – you'll see a lot of cyclists in Berlin. It all bodes well for a ride sometime tomorrow. As I was travelling most of Sunday, I can take a few hours off to cycle around Berlin before heading off to Hagen on Wednesday. My original plan was just to go to Hagen and not attend the conference, but there was a strong relevance in the event in connection with my planned meeting on Thursday so sticking around in Berlin was cheaper (I'm told) that flying back to London and then back to Dusseldorf on Thursday. Wednesday will be taken up travelling so I'll have plenty of time on the train to catch up with stuff, although I've yet to suss out the train situation, something else I need to consider tomorrow afternoon. Perhaps I'll ride to the railway station to make enquiries.

There's also the Tiergarten area of the city that I'd like to ride through if it's possible. In a nutshell it's a huge urban park covering 520 acres. Only the Englischer Garten in Munich (1030 acres) is larger.




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