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Josh’s European Adventure: Day 23 – Berlin, Germany (Tegel Airport) to Newark, New Jersey

I couldn’t sleep that well for the few hours that I tried.  I kept worrying that I wouldn’t wake up on time and miss the flight (it sucks but my internal alarm clock very rarely fails me).  Anyway before I knew it 615AM rolled around and Linda’s cell phone alarm clock rang.  I got up, packed up my stuff, gave Linda a big hug and a kiss on the forehead and said goodbye.  I was sad to leave her and say bye.  We really have become a lot closer as friends this trip.  I mean we traveled along with the rest of the group for almost a month in August and then 2.5 weeks now is a lot of time with people.  You are with them 24 hours a day and really get a great chance to get to know them.  I hope to see her soon, either if she comes with her family in April to New York or maybe a trip to Europe in the summer to see how great Switzerland is in the summer (she raves about it).

So after packing up my stuff, I schlepped it downstairs, argued with the guy at the front desk about my key and my booking.  After 5 minutes I was like “listen bro, I’m holding 30 kilos of stuff here, just let me go.”  Eventually he said OK when I told him that Linda was upstairs and she would take care of any problems.

I walked across the street to where the taxi stand was, and like everyone had told me plenty of taxis were waiting.  I got in to the first taxi and the female driver opened up the trunk for me.  The taxi, like many in Germany are Mercedes Benz and mine was a Benz and it was a station wagon with a huge trunk.  When the driver saw all my stuff she laughed and said something in Germany.  I replied using context clues and said “Yes, I know I have a lot of stuff.”  She nodded and I got in the car.  Oh before I did I told her I was going to Tegel, she said no problem and we were off.  From what I had heard, taxi drivers in Berlin are fair and this one seemed no different than what I had heard.  The ride would only cost 18 Euros and because she was so good I tipped her 4 Euros.  Now tipping really isn’t expected in Europe and Germany especially.  Normal tipping is 5-10% maybe, so when she saw I was giving her 22 Euros she said “Oh thank you.”  Now foreigners tipping more than they should is probably not a great thing.  The locals begin to expect it and rely on it and it creates issues, but this driver was honest, and got me to the airport quick, so I was happy to give it to her.

When I got the airport, I put the cover over my bags and checked in.  I made a mistake.  I ended up leaving my giant Swiss Army knife in my carry on.  It was a simple mistake and so I decided to go to the Check-in counter again and explain to them my problem.  At first they tried to tell me there was nothing I could do, I could either mail it or would have to throw it out.  I did not accept that as an option and continued to push the lady to do something.  Finally she asked me for my boarding card, called up someone, told the guy my luggage tag number and several minutes  later a baggage guy had my bag in hand and I slipped my knife right in.

I knew that since there was still plenty of time before the plane landed and they began to load the luggage on, that I knew for sure they would do this for me, and then I did.  After I little while I went through security.  I had to take off all my jackets, my belt, everything out of my pockets, so on and the guy did not seem very happy that I continued to throw stuff in the box, while another lady standing there smiled.

Once we boarded the plane I got seated in my comfy aisle seat.  The plane wasn’t full and the middle seat was open which gave me and the guy sitting on the other aisle some added bonus space.  The flight wasn’t terrible, wasn’t great either, but did seem to move rather quickly.  The entertainment system absolutely blew.  It did not have the new OnDemand system and basically looped the same programming on 9 channels.  I managed to watch a few movies, tv shows and I think I actually slept for more than 2 hours.  Oh and the food kind of sucked also, and since I was up so early I didn’t have a chance to bring food on the plane with me, so about half way through the flight I was rather hungry.  I managed to get three small bags of pretzels from one of the flight attendants which was nice of him.  He was nice while some of the other ladies were not friendly at all.

Overall the flight seemed to go pretty quick, definitely was not as board as the flight to London which was a newer plane and had the fancy OnDemand Entertainment system.  We arrived at Newark like 30 minutes early.  I raced as usual to passport control, got stamped in, then went to get my luggage.  That took at least 20 minutes and by the time I had gotten it all the line to go through customs was long.  At this point I was holding all my stuff and it was getting heavy.  When I got to the custom’s agent, he asked me to bring my stuff to the Agricultural X-ray scan which is never a good thing.  I mean I did not have any food with me just lots of alcohol as gifts and maybe a few Cuban Cohiba Ciggeralos 🙂

Nonetheless my bags scanned with no problems and I was on my way home.  I jumped on the Airtrain to the NJ Transit and then home sweet home!

I hope you all enjoyed reading Josh’s European Adventure.  I enjoyed writing it and living it.  As I said before it was a fantastic trip and will stay with me, just like all the others have before it for a long, long time.

– Josh


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