Wednesday 02 November 2016 – Berlin, Germany.
The Tiergarten in November. Wow, what amazing colours! I have been waiting, fruitlessly, for the trees to turn in Epping Forest, but they have been remarkably stubborn this year and it does not look I am going to get a display before I leave on my trip to India and New Zealand this week. Berlin’s Tiergarten certainly made up for, if not exceeded, what I will miss.
I have been here once before. Way back in 1987, when Germany, as a single nation did not exist. It was the autumn then to, and there is a photo of me in an album buried in a box somewhere of me throwing leaves in the air. I enjoyed Berlin then, and I did again this time, though this was a work visit; and a very busy one too.
I came over with my boss to attend ICEF, a very large language school expo. We had a small booth, in one of the worse spots and were hoping to generate some leads, if not sales, for the school management software he has developed. The conference is very sales focused so I was sort of expecting to be fairly quiet as the schools were selling themselves and were not there to buy systems. 4000+ people attend this event, so there is a big audience.
We left London on Sunday morning, I had a really early start, having to drive the 90km to Gatwick in fog to get there for 6:30am. I was surprised that we actually left as it was a bit of a pea-souper.
At least it was fine in Berlin.
We went straight to the expo centre at the Intercontinental Hotel to set up the booth, once done we attended a ‘first timers’ lunch on the 14th floor of the hotel. We were very near the Tiergarten, I took a couple of photos out of the window. Not realising that this was as close as I was going to get for the next three days.
We were busy, really busy. Unexpectedly busy. Pleasantly busy. There was a lot of interest in the system which was great news for the company. I had sort of expected to be able to take a break each day and go for a walk outside, but we were busy from 9:00 am till 6:30 each night, and then it was a quick trip back to the hotel we were staying in for a shower and change and then back to the conference centre for ‘networking’. We left the first two nights at 1:00 am, we ‘networked’ a lot.
On the final day, Tuesday we did have a brief respite, but it was raining, so the closest I got again was a photo out the window of the 14th floor again.
I did not go out for the final party on Tuesday, electing to have a quiet night in on my own. My boss and I are sharing a room, and I have not spent three full days with someone who was not El since I was travelling with Benne in Sri Lanka in 2013. I needed the space – plus the Arsenal were playing a Champions League game and I had a pretty good stream 🙂
The main reason I did not go out was I wanted to get up early and go for a walk before we had to go to the airport to fly back home. I am so glad I did….
I only had 45 minutes, so it was a short walk. The streets near the hotel were a bit sterile, the shops were the same brands as in London, and Barcelona and Copenhagen, everywhere really. There was none of that solid Germanic architecture I remembered I was a wee bit disappointed to be honest.
The Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church still has the bullet holes in it from the Second World War, when it was mostly ruined by allied bombs, the remains stand as a memorial.
I walked round the perimeter of the zoo, most of which was in this wonderful park, with its wonderful autumn display. I took quite a few photos, none of which do any justice to the park.
The park crosses the Lanswehr Canal, and has a number of small lakes/ponds in it. There were some reflections but I did not really manage to capture them. The light was a bit low as well, but I was sans tripod unfortunately.
I definitely need to go back, I wanted to see some of the Berlin I remembered from the 80s. Going back in the autumn seems like the right thing to do.
I arrived back in London mid-afternoon, tomorrow I am off again, this time to India. I am very nervous about it all now. It has been a while since I have travelled somewhere ‘exotic’. I hope I am up for it all. I am also going to miss El and awful lot!