B-b-b-back in Berlin


(Yes, that’s LAX)

I arrived in Berlin three days ago. I’m here for the Chaos Communication Congress just like last year. When I booked my roundtrip, I chose dates that were three weeks apart (I return on January 6th) under the auspices of saving money by avoiding the holiday. Prices have since dropped, but I’m glad I’m here for the extended period. I’m not really in a position to take a vacation, so any change of locale is beneficial.

I’m staying with my friend Fabienne. I hired her for Hack a Day in 2005, worked with her at Netscape, and now she’s the CTO at Doctr.

I flew AirFrance and connected through CDG (as you might have guessed). This is the third international trip I’ve flown and I have yet to receive a vegetarian meal despite it being shown on my itinerary. I think the problem stems from carriers like United and Delta using partners for their flights. Even though you can buy the ticket and select seats through their sites, they don’t bother transmitting the meal preferences.

I had every intention of reading the Oliver Sacks book my folks gave me for Christmas on the flight, but AirFrance just happened to be showing… every single film I missed this summer. I watched fours movies back to back: WALL·E, Hellboy II, Délire express, and Tonnerre sous les Tropiques.

I wrote the “Good times” post the other day with the understanding that my luck would change. I arrived at TXL, but one of my pieces of luggage did not. I had my duffle bag, but my pelican case was nowhere to be found. I’m not one to sweat missing baggage, and this is the first time in my three years of heavy traveling where I’ve had trouble. The only problem was that along with all my semi-precious hardware, the case also contained my winter coat, a necessity in Berlin. I was reassured by the number of people that were also missing luggage; the chances of them finding a whole group of bags was much greater than finding just mine. I left my information and they delivered the box the night of the next day.

I brought my Android Dev Phone 1 with me and picked up a German prepaid SIM card from Blau. I had one last year and the 10€ credit lasted me the entire trip. This year they’ve added 1GB of data for an additional 10€. That’s a much better rate than the $10 I gave AT&T to use 500K on my phone while in CDG. Unfortunately, you need a German speaker to navigate Blau’s site and to activate the data on the phone. I’ve temporarily added my German cellphone number to my Twitter profile if you need to reach me. My normal cellphone number is also pointed at the VoIP phone here, so you might be able to reach me there. The time difference is +6 hours from the east coast.

I’ve been easing back into Berlin life. I still haven’t adjusted to the time difference. I was awake all day Thursday, but then slept away Friday. It’s now Saturday and I was up at a decent time again. In the spirit of LA, we held hacker drinkup Wednesday night at Bar 23. I realized that I have more favorite restaurants here than in LA. Favorite may not be the best word. I just enjoy eating out here a lot more. Amazing variety and public transportation means location isn’t a big deciding factor when it comes to what to eat. I forgot I had put together a vegetarian map last year. An interesting wrinkle now is that Berlin has a smoking ban. It’s spawned some interesting indoor partition construction similar to what I saw after Lincoln, NE passed theirs.

That’s it for now. Back to the other blogging job. It’s 3PM here, so I’m still blogging incredibly early for the US audience.


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