Featured post

Running a 66 piece orchestral session with StaffPad…

I recently had a 66 piece orchestral session and decided to produce all scores and parts with StaffPad alone. This is stretching the pu...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Ich bin ein Berliner...For a day or two

Just by way of catching up again, here is something I wrote about a visit we made to Berlin in October 2004 to POKOMM a music trade show (For which I bought a suit!!!)...

We landed at Shonefeld Airport and were immediately confused as to where the train into town was. What you have to do is jump on a shuttle bus which takes you over the road to the railway station. Standing on a cold, windswept and ugly ex-eastern-bloc railway platform wondering what to do next isn't an ideal introduction to anywhere!!!

Luckily, we found ourselves in the company of an equally confused, but German speaking lady who found out that you had to go downstairs and buy a ticket which you then validate by putting it into a little machine on the platform which stamps the date on. This seems true of all train tickets. We got a day ticket for 5.60 ('ish) Euros each which lets you play on the trains and busses in the center all day. We decided to get a taxi back on our return which cost 26 Euros as we wanted to make sure we didn't get lost and turn up late!!!

We changed from the overground train to the U-Bahn (Tube...There seems to be a U-Bahn and an S-Bahn) at Alexanderplatz. We noticed a strange but not unpleasant aroma as we walked around the station which we eventually identified as cigarettes and sausage. We got a bit lost trying to find our platform and were approached by a smiling policeman who asked us where we were going in German. Not feeling confident enough to reply, I tried, "Sprechen sie English, bitte???" to which he replied, "A little," and he directed us to the platform, even running after us to correct us when we took a wrong turn. This little kindness really perked us up.

We eventually arrived at Potzdamer Platz and our hotel, the Ritz-Carlton which is stunning. It is pretty pricy on the face of it, but when you compare it to what you'd get in London for the same price, it's fantastic value. We left our luggage there as we were too early to check in and went for a walk.

This is where we were confronted by the sheer size of the place. When I was looking at the map before we went, I thought it'd be quite easy to walk round, but the scale of the map was bigger than I thought. I suppose that because the place was pretty well smashed up during the war, there are big gaps between the places of interest, so be prepared to use the tube or taxis a fair bit if you want to 'do' the place in a limited amount of time.

We had some fantastic food (Always tricky for a vegan)... I can recommend Samhedi, which is an asian veggie restaurant, as well as the food (And cocktails!!!) at the Ritz. The beer is fantastic...It takes a very long time to pour, but it's worth the wait!!!

The hotel called my mobile when the room was ready and we returned to find that our luggage was already in our room. It was the most stunning hotel room we've ever stayed in and everyone was very friendly and welcoming.

POPKOMM went well...Got some great new contacts...We met a distributor from Lithuania who was interested in distributing us there and also in Latvia and Estonia. We also me our Dutch distributor for the first time although we've been doing business together for years!!!

More sightseeing the next day...Went for a big walk along Unter Den Linden to Alexanderplatz, which is a big ugly example of 60's eastern-bloc building but very atmospheric and beautiful in its own way.

On the way to Alexanderplatz. It's the back of the Berliner Dome over the Spree.

Everywhere was very clean and the people were friendly...Especially after attempting a few words of German by way of introduction. Actually, I found that I was managing more and more complete transactions in German as my confidence grew and the German I learned as school (35%) began to dredge itself up from the depths of my memory.