Berlin, Friday May 20

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We took the China group to dinner. One of our wheeler-dealer guys said the Midtown Grill was the most expensive restaurant in Berlin, or at least in the area around the Brandenburger Tor. What a criterion! It was indeed okay (for once, I remembered to ask them to add no salt!) although one of the colleagues just toyed with his steak.

Friday:

The conference ended yesterday, except for the closing ceremonies that I don’t need to attend. So I have a free day – well, actually it is a workday, but ….

Jacky was supposed to arrive this evening, but she phoned – from home – about the time I was getting up and getting going. Bumped from her flight, the good part is that she gets an aisle seat on tomorrow’s flight, and a wodge of cash in compensation for pain and suffering.

I decided not to go out with the China delegation. They naturally want to speak Mandarin, but I can’t help them much. Anna said she already had plans; Denis didn’t respond to a text message (maybe he is going out with Anna today). So I think I am on my own. I can deal with that.

Decided to walk to Schloss Charlottenburg, which is off in this part of the city. Maybe as big as Nymphenburg in Munich, but if Nymphenburg is impeccable, well, Charlottenburg is just a bit peccable. If that means it gets a smaller taxpayer subsidy, that’s just fine.

Spent an hour or two wandering the grounds. Very nice. Musical, too, as we see below.

It is indeed a work day. I have my office at my belt: my cell phone. Stopped a couple times to check email and respond. That’s good enough.

Thought I might get a week’s pass on the S-Bahn and go on out to Spandau today to see the Zitadelle. The S-Bahn stations in Berlin are not as closely spaced as they are in Munich, but there is one not far from the Schloss. Unfortunately, it didn’t like my credit card. I think it is set up to accept only CCs that have PINs, and mine doesn’t. There was no Kasse; it’s the machine or nothing. Nothing, I guess.

By the time I had walked back to the zoo (past Charlottenburg Rathaus, pretty classy), I was losing my enthusiasm for additional adventures. I did stop at the DB Reisezentrum, where they had a live clerk, who could take my credit card. Getting a little tired, I asked her if she spoke English. Only a little, she said, but she promised to speak Deutsch slowly, and did. It worked out fine; I should have just done it in German to start with!

I saw the harp, thought it looked pretty strange. Then I noticed the name of the company, in the background. Right!

I circumnavigated the zoo on the way back to the hotel. Found an old water pump on the sidewalk across from the Spanish Embassy. Gave the handle a vigorous pump, just to see what would happen, and got a good gush of water. Cool!

I think there is a major football match in town: everyone around is wearing blue and white, drinking beer and being immature. (I do the same, but I don’t wear blue and white.)

After a nap, I wandered out, ended up at a Chinese restaurant off Ku’damm, which was *not* overrun by football fans. Not  bad.

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