Breakfast in Helsinki, lunch in Berlin and dinner in Prague!

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December 20th 2013
Published: December 21st 2013
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We had to wake up early this morning for a big day of travelling. Up at 6.00am and down to breakfast by 6.45am. Back in our room by 7.15am to clean our teeth and finish our packing and then down to the front desk by 7.45am to settle our bill before being picked up by the Yellow Cab service at 8.00am sharp. Our driver walked in the front door as we arrived at the front desk so we paid our account and then dragged our bags out into a dark and rainy morning to be loaded into the maxi-cab.

Our driver was originally from London, but has lived in Finland for the last seven years with his Finnish wife. As we drove out to the airport the rain became sleet and, as we arrived at the airport, it was almost snow. A good day to be leaving Helsinki because it was going to be pretty cold and gloomy!

We gained an hour during our flight to Berlin and touched down just before noon. Berlin was drier and (slightly) warmer than Helsinki. We eventually found our way to lost property where we asked about my scarf that I misplaced as we passed through Tegal Airport earlier in the month. It was a long shot that didn't pay off - I was not reunited with my scarf! I sent an email to the Lost & Found enquiry address for Tegal Airport as soon as I realised my scarf was no longer with me. I received a reply inviting me to come and look at the scarves in Lost & Found on my return to Tegal.

Today, rather than show me a container of the scarves that had been handed in, the guy on the desk wanted to know the date I lost the scarf and a description of the scarf. I told him it was lost on the 4th of December and it was a striped, multi-coloured scarf. He seemed unable to cope with the concept that the scarf wasn't a single colour, but checked his computer anyway. After a cursory glance he told me that there was no matching item recorded. Personally I think he was just blowing me off because he couldn't be bothered. I did hope that German efficiency would win the day and reunite me with my scarf but, it wasn't to be. Oh well, it could have been much worse, I could have lost a wallet or a passport!!

After the fruitless visit to Lost & Found we bought public transport day tickets and took the bus to Hauptbahnhoff. After a bit of mucking around we found lockers where we could leave our bags for a few hours until our train to Prague at 4.48pm this afternoon. We caught the train to Friedrichstra├če where we emerged out onto the street and went in search of some street food at one of the Christmas stalls. We found one at which we could have bought a plate of ham hock and cabbage, but that seemed a bit too much to tackle for lunch.

We settled on currywurst sausages. We have seen these before, but didn't really know the difference between bratwurst and currywurst. OK, for currywurst your sausage gets fed through a little machine that slices it onto a paper plate and then you have a red sauce (ketchup?) slopped allover it and then a shake of curry powder and a shake of chilli powder is added and you get a bread roll on the side. Hmmn, interesting to try, but I'm in no rush to have it again! We finished with a glass each of (non-alcoholic) apfelpunsch. Bernie has never drunk so many hot drinks!

To fill in a couple of hours it was a toss up whether to go to the German History Museum or just wander around a bit. I spotted people walking around the dome of Berlin Cathedral so we decided that we would go and have a look at the cathedral. As luck would have it there was a choir practicing in the cathedral so that was very pleasant to listen to. We were even treated to a short piece of music from the enormous pipe organ and that was AWESOME. I would have like to have heard a bit more of that. A bit of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor maybe? After listening to the choir, we tackled the 226 steps to the dome. On a clear day it would be a lovely view of ... cranes. Yep, there is an extraordinary amount of construction going on in Berlin at the moment and there is not a single vista of the city skyline that doesn't have at least one, but more likely several, cranes in it.

Back at street level we walked back to the station on Friedrichstra├če where we caught a train back to Hauptbahnhoff. At 4.00pm the information board still didn't have our train on it to tell us what platform we would be leaving from. We waited for the board to refresh a couple of times and at last our train was on the bottom of the board departing from Platform 1. We went back to the lockers to retrieve our bags and then proceeded to Platform 1. On the platform there was no hint where the train was going to pull up so we just waited near the bottom of the escalator.

Of course, when the train pulled in we were standing level with the nose of the engine. Damn, better get moving along the carriages looking for Car 262. Everyone (not just us) was panicky about getting on the train. We couldn't find Car 262, but with everyone around us urging people to hurry up and get on the train we decided to get on and keep making our way along the train on the inside. It is much harder to manoeuvre your bag along the inside of the train! In the end we were in our seats well before the train pulled out. We probably would have had time to make our way sedately along the platform and board at our designated carriage??! Still, best to be on the train rather than the platform when the train driver decides it's time to go.

By the end of our journey the train was running about ten minutes late which saw us arriving in Prague about 9.40pm. We followed the instructions that we had to go down from the platforms and past the Burger King and there would a driver holding a sign with our name on it. Too easy! After a slightly terrifying drive - very fast down very narrow streets - we were in the Old Town part of Prague and at our accommodation. Pasquale met us out on the street and escorted us down the alley to his office. We filled in some paperwork and then he showed us up to our room. We're on the fourth floor again, but this time there is an elevator!

Even though it was late, Pasquale insisted on taking us out for a quick orientation walk. We walked down a couple of twisted streets and came out into the main square which was alight with Christmas lights. It was like stepping into a fairytale with the floodlit Gothic spires on the church and the biggest, most extravagantly lit Christmas tree we have seen yet. Because we hadn't eaten Pasquale suggested that we should find some dinner before it got any later and he would take us on the Wenceslas Square section of his orientation walk in the morning. The Italian restaurant nearby was still taking late customers so we ordered a couple of pizzas to tide us over 'til morning.

15,756 steps / 10.73 km

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