Quincy to Berlin

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We drove the mile or so to the Quincy Amtrak station and left our car in the large parking lot. We had left it for a much longer time in various stations around the area with no problem other than a dead battery after five weeks during the winter.

After spending the night at the Kewanee Motor Lodge, we caught the Illinois Zephyr, meeting up with Becky on board, and continued on to Chicago Union Station. We had brunch at Lou Michells, a half a block from Union Station and a Chicago institution. From there it was a two block walk to the Chicago Transit Authority Clinton station on the Blue Line which takes you directly to O'hare Airport.

Strange doings on the Carl Sandburg: an engine painted to honor veterans.
There have been rumors that Amtrak is short of diesel engines. You wouldn't know it to see our train: two engines for 5 cars.
After passing congestion and long lines at other airline counters at O'hare, we were pleased that there was no line at Air Berlin's counter. The agent was very personable and selected our seats and printed the boarding pass without further ado. Air Berlin's website was much stricter warning us that we had to do web or smart phone check-in or pay extra, and have our carry-on luggage measured, weighted, and tagged. None of that was true, at least at O'hare. We were proud of being able to travel abroad for 3 weeks with only carry-on luggage.

The next step - TSA security - reminded me of why I NEVER fly, except when going overseas. If anything, it seems to have gotten sillier in the 3 years since my last trip.

The plane departed on time and we lucked out. There were many empty seats and we were able to spread out with two seats apiece. Becky found 4 empty seats in a row and was able to lie down.

After a routine flight we arrived at Tegel at 7:00AM on time and got through pass port control rather quickly. Tegel is the old West Berlin airport that was supposed to be replaced a couple of year ago by a new one; but it is seriously behind schedule and the new estimate is 2017.

Unlike most European airports, Tegel does not have train service, only buses. From among several options to get to Mexikoplatz, the nearest s-Bahn station to Gesche, I chose the TXL express bus to Brandenburg Gate transferring to the S1 s-Bahn heading to Potsdam. The bad news was I couldn't see any signs pointing to the bus at the airport. The good news is that asking "Wo ist die bushaltestelle?" of the first person in uniform pointed us to the nearby public transportation information and ticket counter where we were able to purchase our tickets to Mexikoplatz.

A four block walk brought us to Gesche's at 9:00AM, exactly the time I had told her in the last email to expect us. She chuckled when I said Wir sind punctlich.
Gesche's back patio where we had brunch upon arrival.
Janelle, Gesche, and Vicki (Gesche's sister) enjoying breakfast
Relaxing on the patio after a well deserved nap.
Gesche's daughter Constanz and granddaughter Maya (spelling?)
Gesche's back yard. If you slip through an opening to the right of the flowers, you come to a small neighborhood park, complete with a small soccer field.
We had supper at the same neighborhood Italian restaurant as 3 years ago. We enjoyed the food and sitting outside on a warm Summer evening just as well as before.
Geshe's sister Vicki from a small town in Northern Germany (I don't remember the name) was also visiting. She had lived many years in the Detroit area before returning to Germany 25 years ago. We all enjoyed talking with her very much.
Sun Room where we had cordials after returning from the Trattoria.
Living room
Typical German Kitchen
The next morning after another big breakfast, we began our train journey to Göttingen. When we mentioned our planned route to the main Berlin train station to catch the ICE to Göttingen, Gesche's daughter Constanz who was visiting, said that part of our itinerary, the S-bahn from Friedrichstraße to the main station was under construction. A Shienenenersatzverkers (bustitution) was in effect. Using the internet she came up with a much better route: backtracking on the S-bahn from Mexikoplatz to Berlin Wansee and then a regional express to Berlin main station. This information save us from a possibly difficult situation.

Gesche and Vicki insisted that they drive us to the Wansee station, eliminating the walk to Mexikoplatz and a very short S-Bahn leg from Mexikoplatz to Wansee. On the Wansee platform we said auf wiedersehen to our most gracious hostesses

Deutsche Bahn (DB) the German rail company makes it very easy to purchase tickets via the internet. Simply select your itinerary using their excellent website, pay with CC, and printout an eTicket that the conductor scans - similar to Amtrak. You can book tickets up to 3 months before travel; and at that time very reasonalble Sparpreis (savings fare) are usually available.
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