Cheap flights could be very expensive sometimes
Three months ago I both a return tickets for Berlin by GERMANWINGS, which cost me something less then 100 Euros, all taxes inclusive. On my way back home to Zagreb I took a taxi to the airport, arriving there half an hour before flight started. Actually, the taxi was very slow and when I asked him to drive faster he respond something about police, which I didn't understood well. Anyhow, when we tried to check in, the lady told us we are too late. That was quuite a schock to us because we saw a number of people who still haven't passed the first controll. The lady was, however. mercyless telling us that the next flight for Zagreb goes in three days......
The water in Berlin is... um... how do i say this... interesting.
For some reason the bottled water tasted sweet and it was quite sickly... ask VT member Miso80 about it lol... but I even did the unthinkable and went to starbucks to see if i could get some normal water.... but no same strange taste...
...actually i'm starting to think maybe it was something I ate.
It seems uneccesary to say this but you have to be aware of a scam running, particularly if you make it to the Kunst Markt. There are teams of conmen running a very old scam. One of the men plays a game of find the pea, that is, hiding a pea under a cup move them around and ask people to locate them. Clearly the first person to do this is part of the con and they find it everytime and win a lot of money. An innocent person, invariably with little grasp of the language, is then given the opportunity to play. On the first couple of tries the win and then they are encouraged by a number of people in the crowd to bet large. These people are also part of the gang. The poor target makes a large bet and loses, they are then encouraged to double the bet and surprise, surprise they lose again. Before any real complaints the game is packed away and the conmen are off to fleece someone else. The amounts involved run into hundreds of Euros. Please, please avoid these people and if you see them operating report them to the local police who are trying to drive them out of business.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Casino and Gambling
You will find them near the museum isle or on the Alexanderplatz; they will try to convince you to bet under which box the little ball will be. You will see first people who will win money; it seems to be easy... but forget about it: it is all a big trick! The winning people belong the organized group of players and you will always always and everytime loose!!! So don't play, don't bet it is forbidden and the police tries to catch as many of them as possible. And if you start to argue with them - if you loose - they become dangerous too....
Watch out for the typical shell game 'ruse'. We saw more then a few people pretend to win big to fool the tourist into playing, but which were clearly part of the gang. We even saw a 'gang member' pretend to steal the pot and run near the Alexander Platz. While that commotion was going on, others lost their purses and wallets.
Making out in the Park
I dunno if this should be a Warning tip, or a Must See Activity! My first day in Berlin, having a nice wonder around Tiergarten park, and what do i come across? A half naked couple making out on the grass, another guy sleeping not 10 meters from them, but not a care in the world... Can be a bit intimidating if you not expecting it! Public nudity definitely ain't an issue in this country!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
No rowing ;-)
No rowing in front of our chancellor's office, right? This pic was taken when the Bundeskanzleramt (chancellor's office) was still being built in 2000. It's finished now. The people of Berlin call it "Waschmaschine" - washing machine. And when you see it you know why. Maybe that's why you shouldn't row there - there might be rapids ;-)
Bike Lanes are Sacred!
Don't walk in the Bike Lane! While most people are very friendly (much more so than they would have been in NYC), they do ride very fast in the bike lane. We steered clear, but some people tended to weave in and out and there were a few close calls. Berlin has a lot of great biking areas and a lot of great walking areas. Stay in your area! :)
Keep in mind that in Berlin the englishskills is VERY VERY different.
One time when I was visiting Berlin I got dropped off far outside Berlin in a suburb. When I then tried to find a commuter to go to the town centre, none of the citizens I met could speak any english. Later on during this trip I realized that this was a very common thing in Berlin; that you actually meet more people that can´t speak english - than people who can.
So to save time & strength: make it a habit to always start a question or conversation with: "Do you speak english?".
Those who do speak english will proudly smile and say: "Well of course!"
Keep in mind that you´ll see alot of signs & flyers about really cheap accomendation. To avoid beeing ripped of: listen up.
They advertise that they have rooms for 10 Euros (for example). When you get there you´ll notice that it´s just ONE room for that price, and you have to book it several weeks/months ahead. These places know that once you´re there now - you´ll probably take a more wxpensive room anyway...people are often very conveniant.
Mayby not a great "danger", but still a way for them to make easy money and for you to overpay.....
Public transportation - Subway & commuters.
When traveling by commuters & by subway you can easily save some money. By not paying for a ticket you can save even more money.
Although; beware that in Berlin they use undercover-ticketguards on the commuters and on the subway.
I experienced this the hard way when suddently 5 persons in my subwaycar rised up and checked everybodies tickets. The fine for not paying a ticket in Berlin is 60 Euros (Summer 2004), but it seems that it can easily be argued down to nothing ( "Me no english"...."Me no germany"...).
Learning German language
Do not be afraid to try learning german !!! you can always rely on specific easy-to-remember panels around the city helping you !!!! :-)))) (in case you do not understand the joke, please read the top line of these posters !!!)
german police men
the police are required to accompany every demonstration and keep the peace, and while they are sometimes obnoxious, they are generally harmless. they do go out of their way to chase you down dark roads and even into public parks if you forgot to turn on your bicycle light.
"It has to be said that the streets of Berlin, at least East Berlin where I spent most of my time, were plagued by dog ***. This resulted in some particular behaviours on the part of experienced Berliners, like Hanno, such as always walking down the center of the pavement, and never walking in the house without taking off your shoes first. This was such an ingrained habit that just quickly nipping back into the apartment, fully shod, resulted in Hanno blowing a gasket. Having to constantly take your shoes on and off, in Hanno's tiny entrance, filled as it was with tables and boxes, also resulted in a constant traffic jam, with all five of us falling over each other in a space not big enough for two, sometimes with people removing their shoes to come in, while others were putting them on in order to leave. By the time we headed out for the evening's party, we'd become practiced enough to make use of the stairs outside." - from my travelogue
I was amazed by how much dog muck was on the streets of Berlin, more so than anywhere else I've been to in Germany. It definitely pays to follow the example of Berliners, and walk down the centre of the pavement, as dog owners do seem to make the effort to keep their dogs from messing the central path, even if they will let them crap everywhere else. I also noticed the occasional evil smell wafting up from underground, and they seemed particularly common near the subway stations.
Ooh, Three Card Monte – How can you lose?
One of the oldest tricks in the book is still played with success in many countries. Perhaps it’s the fact that I grew up near NYC and learned about the scams growing up, but I can’t believe how many people still fall for this scam.
So here is the thing. A guy will shuffle either three cards and you have to pick the ace. Similarly, he might shuffle three shells and you have to pick the shell that a small ball is under. Around the guy are several people who are pretending to play. These people are called shills. They know and work with the guy. (Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.) Sometimes they “win” and sometimes they “lose.” Whether they win or lose, it looks so obvious as to which of the shell the ball is under. When, they’d lose normal people would openly wonder in astonishment, “how did he not see it, it was so obvious.” The answer is that he is a shill. You can usually pick out the shills quite easily, because they don’t look like tourists.
So now if a sucker actually tries to play, it will suddenly be a lot harder. With an extremely quick, slight of hand, often the ball is under no shell, but then he replaces it when it shows you “where it was at.” Some of these people are so quick, that even if they showed you how they did it, and then did it again, you would not be able to see it. If any normal person ever does “win”, it is because he already lost a lot and the guy doesn’t want him to create a scene. Trust me you will always walk away with less money.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Three Card Monte. Now that you now the basics, try to pick out the shills, but don’t play.
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