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9 may 2001

Sitting back here in the hallway just outside my dorm writing again.  I just spent 59Kc on breakfast which is dirt cheap... about $1.80, for a bunch of food.  Back to the train ride from Berlin.  I mostly read my book along the way and watched the passing countryside.  When I got on the ICE I thought I had gotten on the right wagon from the sign on the outside of the train.  After about an hour or so I realized I was on the wrong wagon when some natives told me I was in their seat.  Anyway I collected my stuff and moved on to the correct car and found some lady asleep in my seat.  The Germans seem to be pretty laid back about shit so I just found a vacant seat and continued to read my book.


When we got to the Zoo station in Berlin it was raining a little.  I had to call the hostel for directions and confirm my reservation.  I basically jumped on a bus and was at the hostel in a few minutes.  When I got to the dorm there was a Scot in the room who thought I was German because I greeted him with a Guten Tag!  Gordon, the Scot, lives in Glasgow but works in Edinburgh.  He is a civil engineer who enjoys reading economics in his spare time.  As you can imagine we hit it off pretty well.  I'm still amazed that Gordon read the Wealth of Nations on his own, he is truly a sick man.


Anyway, that first evening I was starving, but feeling better from my cold.  There was a little dive place around the corner where I got a Donor Kebab and a turkish pizza for 8DMs, it also came with a Coke.  The Donor was really good and could serve as a meal just by itself.  After eating I met up with Gordon and we went to this dive bar next to the hostel.  Gordon turned me on to Scotch Whiskey and coke.  They were strong and cheap, about 4DMs per drink.  We had a few and left since we were going to do a walking tour of Berlin the next morning.


The walking tour was very nice and the guide was well informed.  Though I would not have normally taken to tour I decided to take it to get a better perspective of the city.  After the tour Gordon and I walked around Check-point Charlie for some non chain hole in the wall, but were unsuccessful.  We caught a bus and headed back towards the Zoo.  Gordon was really getting hungry so we ended up eating at a McDonalds.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, in fact Stefan had told me that McDonalds in Germany were better than McDonalds in the USA.  If he is right, McDonalds is marginally better in Berlin, and it didn't make me puke.


By this time I was feeling the full effects of my cold so I was glad to head back to the hostel so I could take a little nap and try to recover.  Later on that evening I walked to the store, which was located in a subway station and then off to the alchemist for some drugs.  I tried writing in my journal for a while in the breakfast room but my nose was really running so I gave up.  I had to walk about a mile or so to the nearest open alchemist since it was late on a Sunday night.  I got back, took one of the tablets and nearly passed out in the TV room trying to follow some German history show.  About midnight I headed upstairs and crashed.


The next morning I was feeling better.  I got up early for my German breakfast and stuffed myself.  I did a little walking around and surfing the internet and suddenly it was past noon.  Gordon and I met up for lunch and then parted ways because I needed to do some laundry.  The German laundromat was pretty cool.  You paid for your washer and dryer from a central location and it included soap.  I screwed up the first time and ended up washing my clothes twice.  A few native Germans also asked me for help with help figuring out the system.  They didn't speak English, but we managed through it anyway.


Later in the evening Gordon and I hooked up and made our way downtown to get some food.  We thought we might hit a beer garden, but it seemed a little to early so eventually we ended up at an Irish pub where we had these huge baguettes for 4 or 5DMs.  We also had a few drinks there but they were expensive.  After eating we bailed since Gordon was getting up early.  We took the subway back to the hostel and stopped by the bar next door for some more Scotch Whiskey and coke.  I managed to convince Gordon to have one or two before he bailed upstairs.  There were some local Germans playing some board game that I didn't understand and one of them was drinking beer and coke mixed together.  Gordon returned after a few minutes because there were a room full of BusAbout people talking in out dorm.  Gordon had tried to invite them back down to the bar but they wouldn't budge.  Oh well, so Gordon and I drank some more, for about an hour and then headed back upstairs to the dorm.  BusAbout people seem to be oblivious to the hostel gig probably because they spend most of their time on a bus.  Normal things like hostel courtesy are foreign to these people so I hope to avoid them in the future.


That morning I had my normal German breakfast and then packed the few things I had remaining.  I also made my way over to the little internet cafe which just completed setting up their systems.  They were so happy the system was up and running that they let me use a system for 30 minutes for free!  After the 30 minutes I took myself and my pack down to the Zoo where I waited for my train.  The train ride was nice, I read most of the way.  In the cabin of the train there was a well dressed German who had a Marmot jacket similar to mine.  We talked for a few minutes and I pointed out the similarity between out jackets.  He was a lawyer working with an economic advisory committee heading to Dresden.  He liked climbing and skiing and was a pretty nice guy and his English was excellent.  Towards Praha I was wondering how many train stops there were in the city.  I talked to the conductor and he told me there were two stops but couldn't tell from my hand drawn map which stop was for me.  I decided to get off at the main train station and I happened to guess correctly since it only took me a few minutes to get to my hostel.


This particular hostel is in an old apartment complex and the dorm I'm staying in has 6 beds.  After stowing my stuff I made my way down to an authentic Czech restaurant and ate like a king!  A large meal, 150g, cost about 98Kc and beer was only 19Kc so I had two.  I couldn't finish my meal it was so much food.  About halfway through my meal a group of Americans came in and sat at my table.  We chatted and had a general good time until past 11:00pm, almost midnight.  Actually there was an Aussie who was working as a consultant in IT.  I was tired from the train ride and all the food and beer.  I'm not too sure what I will be doing today, but possibly heading to an internet cafe and doing a little sight seeing.

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