Berlin, Germany, February 16, 2010
We've seen it recommeded that travelers should use their first day for light activities until as close as possible their usual bedtime in the new time zone. Shopping wins a 1-1 vote, and we set off by U-bahn (subway). (As visitors we find a city's subways the fastest and easiest to understand though least scenic way to get around.) An entrance for the nearest stop on the U2 line is in the median of the street almost directly in front of our hotel.
We arrive at Potsdamer Platz, "The Platz To Be". Berlin is almost too full of history. The platz is 750 meters south of the Brandenburg Gate, even closer to the all-but-unmarked site of the Fuhrerbunker, and preserves a short segment of the Wall. Today the platz is surrounded by office towers, has a free-standing elevated hair salon, and is a block from our destination Arkaden (shopping mall).
In the middle of the mall is a ticket booth for the Berlin International Film Festival, then in progress. Some stores are familiar, like Aldi [sud], where I find Berliner Pfannkuchen, subject of the Jelly/Jam doughnut urban legend about President Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech. Others are similar to U.S. chains, like the office supply store McPaper. Aldi doesn't take credit cards, so we buy most of our hotel snacks at Kaiser's.
Back outside, no indication of mardi gras. Back at the hotel, a fine selection of television channels, in German.