Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 5 - Day of Relaxation in Marzahn

Today was to be a day of relaxation with genealogy talk, viewing of photos and creation of the header for my blog. Breakfast was with Uschi and Gerhard and consisted of the traditional breakfast fare.

Uschi left for work and Gerhard and I went for a walk near the apartments where many stores and markets are. The intent was to get air mail post-card stamps, go to a bank so I could exchange some dollars for Euro and go to the cellular phone store. The point of that was that I had carried my Blackberry here, not to make calls back to the US (too costly) but because I have e-mail and Internet access on my Blackberry which is at no cost with my Alltel plan. I had also brought my laptop but found that both Gerhard and Uschi have dial up service that costs them a hefty fee when they use the Internet and I had hoped to connect in a wireless fashion somehow in the apartment here. While there were many available wireless access networks here in this vicinity, all were password protected and Uschi and Gerhard had no idea who they belonged to. I thought I could solve the problem with the Blackberry for some basic e-mail back home but I had absolutely no connection on the cell phone here in Berlin. I had specifically asked my provider, Alltel, before my trip and was assured that there would be no problem having a connection in Berlin. They were wrong.

First stop of the morning was at the Bank where we were informed that the small branches did not exchange dollars for Euro. We would have to head into Berlin proper to Alexanderplatz to a larger bank. Gerhard seemed to think that would be fine and we could see Alexanderplatz as well.

Off on the S-Bahn we went to Alexanderplatz-a huge area of Berlin. Found a bank and exchanged $200 for $130 Euro. Yep, our exchange rates between dollars to Euro is not very exciting. We took a walk around the Alex Mall, which is 3 levels, to see some of the shops and then Gerhard decided we would need to have lunch. Huge food court on the 3rd floor where I had fish and chips which were good. After this, Gerhard thought we should walk to the huge television tower in Berlin where we could take an elevator to the top to view all of Berlin. He assured me there was an elevator and no climbing of 300+ steps. However after a lengthy walk to the area, we saw the line-up a block long and neither of us was inclined to wait. So back on the S-Bahn to the apartments in Marzahn.

Once back we stopped at the post office to get post-card stamps and then to the cellular store. Here they sold the exact model of my Blackberry and the associate was most helpful. He assured me that I should have no connection problems here in Berlin as many, many American tourists are in Berlin with American cell phones and Blackberry instruments. However, my particular instrument would not cooperate and this is just another instance in my long run with Alltel with this Blackberry model.

We then headed back to our apartments and I took my laptop to Gerhard’s where we proceeded to create a header for my blog. Had to take a break at 5 p.m. for coffee, tea and cake which is a ritual in Germany. Cakes are bought daily for the afternoon break as are the bread and brotchen. That makes them all the better. Back to the blog header and after many different versions, we settled on one that I am pleased with and I will have to wait until I am back in Michigan to insert it into my blog. I could have done it from Gerhard’s laptop but just try to follow the Blogger steps when all the steps are written in German!

We watched more video tapes and CD journals of Gerhard’s various travels through Germany and Poland and then dinner with Uschi & Harald in their apartment where we had pumpkin soup, breads, cheeses, sausage and fruit custard. After more visiting and viewing of more photos of Uschi and Harald, it was back to my apartment for some reading and bed. First I had to download my photos and work with them a bit. I am finding it hard to “shut down” after a long day of walking when I really should be ready for bed.

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