Lost Baggage, German Beer, and Curry Wursts

Trip Start Jun 08, 2008
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Trip End Jul 09, 2008


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Flag of Germany  ,
Monday, June 9, 2008

After a journey over the Atlantic in a plane that was threatening to fall apart at the slightest gust of wind we finally landed in Prague for our layover.  What we failed to notice was that we had no more than 15 minutes to go from our plane at one terminal to an entirely different terminal across the airport to catch our flight to Berlin.  In addition to the impossible layover time, we also had to make it through a passport check as well as another incredibly long line for security.  We ended up making it to the flight as they are closing the gate, and were the last people allowed through the airplane doors.

 As I waited for my baggage to arrive at the Berlin Airport, I started to think about my cousin's comment in JFK and I became more and more nervous.  Slowly but surely everyone gets their suitcases and bags... except for me.  Wonderful.  As if losing baggage isn't bad enough, the ordeal to actually find the right people to talk to is probably worse.

I asked a security guard whom I should see about this problem.  He sent to me to another security guard.  I am then sent to the Lufthansa office where a woman proceeds to ask for all my flight information before sending me to the Swiss Air offices (strange considering I was flying Czech Airlines).  And of course, the Swiss Air clerk sent me to the Czech Airlines office.  It took five people and nearly five laps around the airport to find the correct office.  Bureaucracy at its finest.

I am eventually told that the back pack is "probably, most likely, at the Prague Airport."  Will the woman check for me?  No, because it is "probably in Prague."

After that headache we caught a cab to the Holiday Inn Express in Berlin (I love employee discounts), but that was not without a hitch either.  Apparently there are two similar sounding roads in Berlin, Kauffersdame or Kaufferstrasse.  The hotel was on Kaufferstrasse, the cab driver thought it was on Kauffersdame.  It took around a half hour and some driving in circles before the driver figured out the situation.

Walking into the hotel was like walking into an Ikea furniture catalog.  The bathroom doors were made to be so "modern" that they had no handle or lock.  But that wouldn't matter much considering that there was a big pane of glass next to the toilet.  The whole situation made you feel like you were taking a crap in the middle of the room, which is slightly off putting when sharing a room with two other people.

After a stroll through the Berlin Zoo, where we saw the world famous polar bear, Knut, we decided to eat.  I decided that the best thing to eat at that moment was the curry wurst, a delicious combination of wurst and curry.  I also was able to drink beer with my curry wurst on the street.  The lack of public drinking laws was astounding, and I took full advantage of it.  A few more beers at dinner and that was the end of my first day in Berlin.

The next day we hopped on a bus and took a tour around Berlin, seeing all the major points of interest: Check Point Charlie, the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, and more.  It was during this tour that I learned that I look German, and people all across Berlin would come up to me speaking in German.  It was amusing at first, but got out of hand quite quickly, especially when the person found out I was American.  For example, at a Shnitzel stand I was being friendly to the woman and greeted her in German...
Me: "Alo!"
Woman (with a big smile): "Alo!"
Me: "Shnitzel."
Woman (bigger smile): "Mit dahm, ohne dahm?"
Me (confused): "Wait, what, huh?"
Woman (no more smile): random German curses under her breath. 

It was a long day and all I wanted to do was kick back in a beer garden and watch the Euro Cup game of Spain vs. Russia.  After some searching we found the Tier Garden, an amazing place tucked into the corner of a park.  With over 100 tables with benches to sit at and a huge TV screen for the soccer game it was the perfect place to enjoy the game.  After a few too many delicious beers, watching Russia lose (dirty Moskals), and some more schnitzel we called it a night. 

The airport finally did find me luggage, and when I returned to my room I found it sitting on my bed.  Too bad it arrived on my last day in Berlin and I was walking around with the same clothes on for the past two days.  The fact that it took a full two days to find its way to me leads me to believe that it never left JFK and was never actually "just in Prague."

Note to everyone, refrain from eating curry wursts no matter how delicious they look.  They come back to bite you in the ass, literally.
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