Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Carpark

We are now in Berlin where, to the delight of all, it is unseasonably warm at 25C. We arrived this morning on the red eye from Frankfurt, up at 4:45 to catch buses etc so tired little sausages this afternoon. Berlin is an interesting place with a lot of building going on, presumably after years of neglect in the Eastern sector. We wondered why there was such a large Police presence with dozens of police vans driving around. It was our intention of doing a hop on hop off tour this afternoon but when we inquired we found that the probability was that the tour would not be completed  due to impending demonstrations-hence the large police presence. That said we went off to the Hacksecher Markt, a quiet but pleasant little market not far from our hotel in Alexander Platz. This is where the police had been congregating and there were more, I'll swear, than our national force right here at the market, must be expecting trouble. It was all quiet and quite hard to reconcile what was happening, there was a small group of Greenies with placards and further along a lorry with a more right wing look about it. We sat and watched with interest and were soon joined by a press photographer who told us that this was one of three rallies of extreme right wingers that were starting at three o'clock, it being around 1 o'clock just now. The numbers started growing and by the time we left had become quite substantial. I have now idea how it all ended up but wondered if, when it had gotten out of control, and made the TV News in NZ, what would have been thought seeing Grannie and Poppa there among it.

 Discretion is the better part of valour we are told and so we took our leave before things got out of control. An afternoon siesta seemed just the ticket after such an early start and has refreshed us to the point where I have decided to have a beer before diner, rather pleasant if I may say so. Must watch the news tonight though.

Yesterday we took a drive in the country with the highlight being a village/ town called Bacharach on the banks of the Rhine, we loved it and although there were quite a few tourists it was not overdone. Again the long weekend had filled the camping grounds in the region to almost over flowing but they seemed happy in the camps or, perhaps, out hiking.


Earlier I was not so lucky, we had happened upon a small town that was so unremarkable that I have quite forgotten it's name, whose civic leaders had managed to attract the worlds largest outlet shopping centre, or so it seemed. Still I won a polo shirt so I no complain. To finish the day in uncharacteristic fashioned we dined at McDonalds after ridding ourselves of our rental car at the airport.   Just heard a news item on the wireless about today's demonstration. My Germans not good enough to get the real details but it seems many thousands were involved. Anyway back to ridding ourselves of our rental. This was to take place at the airport's terminal two where we had picked it up and where all the rental car companies have storage in an under ground car park so off we descended into the bowels of mother earth looking for any signs of hire car life. Each level drew a blank so down and down we went. After what seemed like a journey Jules Verne would have found worthy of a story we became aware of a BMW SUV following us. Being courteous Kiwis  we pulled over to let him past, I mean a driver of such a vehicle would have more important things to do than follow a couple who had lost a place to return their car. But NO! As Herr BMW pulled up along side he wound down his window, probably just pushed a button, and asked if he could help us. Mrs Currin explained our plight and he very kindly explained how we were in totally the wrong place and how we should remedy this disastrous situation. We absorbed the first portion of this discourse, how to get out of where we currently found ourselves,  but lacked the concentration to absorb what it was we should do to get back on track. No problem, on seeing daylight after emerging from our subterranean adventure we spotted a security office and so stopped and I got out to inquire as to where we could return our car. As I did Mr BMW pulled up in front of us and just knew what it was we wanted and very patiently went through the whole returning saga again, this time I managed to absorb it all and off we went with heartfelt thanks give to our knight in a shinning BMW and down we went into an different portal into the centre of the earth. As darkness was closing in there he was again giving us a friendly wave on our way. It seems apparent now that he was part of the security setup and had spotted us on CCTV looking  every bit as lost as we were and had been dispatched to rescue us from our own stupidity. Ah well, such is life.
One other thing while I think of it. Those, astute enough, among you to have noticed my deliberate mistake in the the account of the 18th C salt extraction plant, may be wondering how really worked. Well it was almost right, the pumping, the trickling and the drain at the bottom but all this does is to give you a much higher concentration of salt, rising from the original 3% to something approaching saturation and thisnis then fed into large crucibles where the remaining  water is evaporated off and salt is all that is left. This must have been one of the first efforts at environmental friendly industrial plants. All that effort to minimalise   the energy required to evaporate the water. It is clever.

My beer is getting warm and Mrs Currin is wanting to eat so must away.

Take care. Tomorrow night we are off to Dubrovnik where we will meet up with Murray and Jill and the start of another adventure.



                                                    The Berlin of Yesteryear

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