Posted October 23rd, 2017, 11:40 AM
Today is all about getting our final souvenirs and seeing the last of Berlin. I have told Janet about the Mall of Berlin and how they have 2 'Berlin' stores across from each other, so she wants to go there. But, we can't walk there, as she would never make it. So, we take a taxi. The taxi driver is not happy he is only going as far as Mall of Berlin and when try to tell him to stop, he keeps going around the corner and so I tell Garrett to make him stop at the next entrance to the mall. This makes me mad, Garrett tries to give him 10 euro, but he doesn't want to make change. Ok buddy, no tip for you. He is not German, appears to be Arab. So, I give Garrett 7 euro plus 10 cent, which is exactly what we owe. Because now Janet has a bit of a walk to get to where we need to be in the mall. Had he stopped where I first said, he would have gotten a 2 euro tip, dummy! Grrrr!
So we find the stores Janet wants and she buys a bunch of 'Berlin' stuff for her granddaughter named Berlin, but she also buys a bunch stuff for the other 12 grandchildren and t-shirts for her adult children. I buy a t-shirt for Amelia and one for Dylan, but they are on sale. Dylan will like his, as it says, "You are leaving the American Sector". He is an MP in the National Guard. Amelia's is pink and says Berlin with the city's landmarks shadowed in the background. So, now we want lunch and there are a ton of places to eat here, just like an American mall. There is a pizza place and it is busy, so we take that as a sign it must be good, so we settle in. You order at the counter and they give you a pager to retrieve it when it's done. It was good pizza.
From the mall, we go in search of pieces of the wall my Lonely Planet guidebook says are near and also a guard tower that should still be standing. We find both. The pieces of the wall are in the square and are accompanied by placards explaining the history of the wall, so that is great. The guard tower is kind of an attraction, and costs $3.50 euros to climb up in, but the guys do that and I take their photo. So, our mission today has been accomplished. We walk back to find Janet and there is a stand of taxis just waiting for us. This next taxi driver is a woman and she is very nice, so she gets a nice tip for the trip back to the hotel.
So, for the next couple of hours, Janet and I have to pack up for the trip home. I am not too worried as I have the one carryon for my souvenirs, and the checked luggage were both a couple of pounds light when we came. But, even so, Garrett and I have to do a bit of shifting back and forth before I am satisfied.
That evening we go to a Bavarian restaurant just a couple of blocks from the hotel. When we first walk in, it doesn't look like there is a table available and the waitress tells us 45 min. to an hour and she declines to put our name on the list. It is already 7pm, so I tell Janet and Neil maybe we should go elsewhere. Neil wants to stay. So, we wait and suddenly, there is a table open and we get it. I don't know if he gave the waitress money or what, but I didn't care. I wasn't going to wait until 9pm to eat. The food was good and plentiful and everyone was happy.
The next morning we had to have our luggage out by 6am and be down in the lobby for the bus to the airport by 6:30. They had a breakfast bag for us, which was very nice, since the fabulous breakfast buffet didn't open until 7am.
The setup at Berlin airport was different from anything we had encountered in the past. It was very confusing and there was supposed to be a Viking rep at the airport to assist us, but as far as I know, no one ever saw one. So, before we knew it, we had gone to check-in to check our bags, and were thru security before we remembered we needed to do our VAT tax refund for my earrings. So, Garrett decided he would go back out to the main hall and do it before our flight. We had about an hour. We were texting back & forth, but it was taking him so long, it was down to about 20 min. by the time he came back and didn't have it done. The people at the refund desk said he didn't have the "right" receipt. So, we decided we would try again in Amsterdam while we were on our layover and, thank you, Lord, we got our money back. Geez!
So, our flight from Amsterdam to Detroit was on time, we got comfy in our Economy Plus seats and Delta fed us 3 times. Our neighbor was ready to pick us up when we got thru customs. It was a great trip regardless of the rain and chilly weather. I enjoyed all our stops and the hotels Viking used were great. The people we met on the cruise were interesting for the most part. You all know how that goes. I could have wrung the neck of that Chinese dingbat who left our busload waiting for half an hour when she decided to disappear with strangers, but other than that, the majority of people were fun to cruise with. Our cruise director (Viking calls them Program Managers) was fun and interesting. The food was outstanding. Hope I can lose the pounds I gained before our next cruise in April '18. Shouldn't be a problem, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, and Easter, right?