Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day 2: Travels with Sebastian

Always ready to aid damsels in distress
Today was to start as follows:  Wake, early. Work-out.  Eat breakfast. Wait for Sebastian to show up and then go visit Berlin.

How it went: Wake to the sound of the room phone ringing, slightly muffled by the earplugs. Receive information that Sebastian is in the lobby.  Curse Sebastian for obviously arriving much earlier than we had agreed (10-1030).  Ask woman on the phone what time it is.  Receive answer of "10:20".

You see, I figured my body would still be on Maryland time, and that even though I went to bed at midnight, I'd probably naturally wake at around 0600, which was fine with me.  Getting to sleep in a room with real, working window treatments was also a benefit, as I could close the shades and actually sleep in the dark. And...the earplugs--well, I didn't know how bad the street noise would be. Oh...and the sleep mask.  Well, you get the picture.

So I hurried to throw some clothes on, Sebastian came up to the room. Sebastian is a German PhD candidate in Naval Strategy, and I got to know him while he was in the US working on his dissertation.  My presence here in Germany is due to him, as he chatted me up to his adviser who is running the conference.  Our plan was to very lazily waft about the city and see some things. He had an unexpectedly good deal of knowledge about Berlin, which was nice, as I don't think he's ever lived here.  Our wandering started just across the street from our hotel: the HQ of the failed Stauffenberg plot to kill Hitler in the Summer of 1944.  I stood in the courtyard where Stauffenberg and fellow collaborators were executed by the light of army vehicle headlights.  Quite a way to start.

We walked then to the Potsdamer Platz and had a leisurely couple of Lattes.  Which is not good for the diet, as Lattes have a lot more calories than plain coffee.  We some some architectural monstrosities along the way, including a horrible opera house.  We then moved along where the Wall had been toward the Brandenburg Gate, which was awesome, and the Bundestag, or the parliament building, which was also awesome.  Then we walked over to the new central train station built for the 2006 World Cup, where I found an ATM and actually was able to get money from it.  Then we had a nice authentic German lunch in a bar at the train station, before heading across town by the S-Train to meet a friend of Sebastian who was going to take us on a little tour of the Berlin Wall museum.

Jannis was the name of Sebastian's friend, and he and his wife live in Berlin.  He was a great guy, very easy to talk to.  Both Jannis and Sebastian put up with my bad German, and spoke to me in slowly spoken German so that I could understand.  Much English was spoken when we turned to afternoon cappuccinos (again, calories), where Jannis and I had a spirited discussion of the duty of the state, each of us taking our stereotypical positions--me the right wing American, him the center-left Euro.  It was all great fun, but then it was time to leave.

We trained back to the Potsdamer Platz  and I caught a taxi back to the hotel where I finally got the workout in.  Between all that I had consumed AND the workout, I had only 497 calories to spare for our evening's first dinner.  I managed to eat lightly and come in under the day's goal.  Dinner was held in one of the hotel salons, and we had a very enjoyable dinner speaker, a German Vice Admiral whose command of my language was significantly better than mine of his.  At my table were a Chinese Senior Colonel, a retired Navy two star Admiral, a couple of UK academics, two admin people from the conference and an American who was acting as one of the panel leads during the conference.  Much conviviality was had by all, but I had to excuse myself at the early our of 2230 to get up to my room and write to all of you.  Oh, and to study my speech for the morning.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Sebastian Bruns said...

Es hat mir viel Spaß gemacht!

Sebastian Bruns said...

Es hat mir Spaß gemacht!

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