Wednesday, June 27, 2012

TallyHo Traveller's Springtime Gallop Through Northern and Central Europe 2012 -- Day Two

Having landed at LHR a few minutes ahead of schedule on Monday, April 2nd, at noon (UK time), due to constant tail winds, all passengers were offloaded and transported to Terminal 5 by bus. The weather was in the low 60s and mostly sunny – no expected British rainshowers for once! Once inside the Terminal we followed the purple Flight Connections signs to Security and quickly went through that process. It’s amazing how much faster the Security process went with not having to take shoes off! Once belts and jackets were back on, two of us decided to window shop some of the Heathrow Terminal 5 shops – Harrods, Dior, Prada, Gucci, Burberry, Tiffany and the Caviar House (free smoked salmon samples there) – before meeting up with the others. Since we still had a 3 ½ hour layover before the next BA flight, it was time to eat lunch (or was it an early dinner?) at Terminal 5’s Crown Pub bar and restaurant. What a great decision for reasonably priced airport pub grub this choice was! I waxed poetic over a British mini-pie selection consisting of a steak and ale pie (my absolute favorite), a chicken and root veggie pie (much better than anticipated) and a shepherd’s pie (still good, but the least liked of the 3). The mini-pies were accompanied by a huge serving of mashers (mashed potatoes as we Yanks would say) and steamed mixed veggies. Add a half pint of Guinness as the perfect beverage and a perfectly memorable lunch was slowly savored. Chili and smoked salmon baguette sandwiches ordered by other members of the traveling party were equally consumed with great satifaction while we waited for a gate assignment to be posted on the Departure board for the final segment of our trip to Berlin, Germany.

After a couple of hours we decided to walk off some of our d mouth-watering lunch and try to find information regarding our rapidly approaching departure gate. Stopping at the British Airways Customer Service desk we were given the information we needed. A short walk from that desk and we were at the correct gate. Soon our fellow passengers began descending on the area and a general boarding call was made soon after. Let the cattle call begin! After going through another Customs check with passports at the ready we actually boarded the plane via a walkway and not stairs and a bus. An improvement to be sure!

A short, efficient hour flight later we landed at Berlin’s Tegel airport. After a few minutes waiting for a gate (due to being early yet again) we finally disembarked the plane. Getting through German Customs was quick and efficient and our luggage was waiting for us at Baggage Claim when we got there. Upon exiting the Baggage Claim area our daughter, Kaitlin, met us and directed us to the bus transportation area. We took Bus 109 from the airport to the Kurfurstendamm/Uhlandstrasse stop. After deciding which direction our first hotel might be, we took a guess and headed south on Uhlandstrasse. Two blocks later and there it was, the Hotel-Pension Kassandra, located on the corner of Uhlandstrasse and Lietzenburger Strasse.

A buzz of the door button opened the wooden security door and we walked up a flight of gorgeous older white marble steps to Reception. Anna, our evening hostess, was a very efficient and friendly older German matron who took us to our room and described, Auf Deutsch, how the room’s door lock and light switches worked as well as cautioned about the step up to the bathroom. Our requested room of a quad consisted of 1 double and 2 single beds, 2 writing desks with chairs, a small TV with multiple channels and a large wardrobe for luggage and clothes. The double bed mattress was new and very comfy (NO bedbugs here!) and the feather comforter kept me VERY warm at night.

The Hotel-Pension Kassandra was a clean, but older, building in need of some TLC (in particular the threadbare carpets) but considering the price of the room, which included a wonderfully extensive breakfast buffet and the central Berlin location, our 2 night stay here was a great start to our Berlin holiday. After dumping our luggage in our room we walked and window shopped the Ku’damm down to the Europa Center and ate a late dinner at the Irish Pub bar and grill. One tasty toasted ham and cheese sandwich washed down with Irish Mist made for a satisfying end to a very exciting travel day.

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