I got some good quality sleep during the night even though I got woken up earlier than I would like it to happen – morning noise of cars, probably including garbage men and trucks refilling the nearby shops and restaurants again. I guess the situation was pretty much the same for Grandpa but it did not ruin our appetite for a nice breakfast. I was lucky enough to find a place with breakfast for us, however I like the breakfasts in Berlin much better. Here, they seem to have quite s satisfactory selection of cheese, ham and salami (in other words the stuff I do not care for breakfast so much), on the other hand, I missed cereals for a spoiled girl (such as some chocolate crunchy ones like in Berlin) and – most importantly – yogurt. Cereals without yogurt is not an option for me, so I will have to be fine with German buns for a couple more days.
The chief planner of this trip claims that the best way how to get a general knowledge of the destination is to take a bus tour on the first day of the day. That is exactly what we did. We went for a combined bus & boat tour offering 27 stops on the way. The guide was Dutch and I think she did pretty good job. Honestly, I did not understand 100 % of the information said in English but her German was much easier to understand that that of the tour guide in Berlin. However, in comparison to the Berlin guide, there was more significant imbalance between information said in English and German as she strongly favored the later one. I believe that knowing both languages was the right way how to get a maximum of information. Had I known that before, I would have studied much more German prior to the trip…
The first, and only stop, when we got off the bus was at Landungsbrücken (piers), almost right at the port and supposedly near the place where the boat should depart. We got well over an hour before the boat tour would start, and spent the time on a short walk and a portion of ice cream. When the time of boat tour came closer, we started searching for the right pier. The map we got was not of much help (at least to me) and as a result, we found ourselves on a huge and fancy boat, however, with a cruise in German only. Fortunately, Grandpa realized something got wrong before the boat took off and we were thus able to fix the problem somehow. From the choices of coming back tomorrow and having money refund we decided for the latter one. It took quite some effort – explaining to the lady at the boat, to a tour guide on the first bus we got on and finally, to the lady go sold us tickets in the morning.
The plan B, a much cheaper one and not necessarily a worse one, was to take a regular ferry, so we do not miss the cruise through he port. We had to get back to the location where the problems started and doing so gave us an opportunity to use the Hamburger subway for the first time. We did not struggle with the tickets too much and eventually were significantly more successful in our search for the boat. Though it was a regular ferry, I have a hunch it was loaded primarily with tourists. The deck was so crowded that a seat was not granted and opportunities for photographers were somewhat limited, too. Nevertheless, I got some nice pictures and enjoyed the little cruise very much. I particularly appreciated the chance to watch a huge cargo ship being navigated to the port by two other – much much smaller – boats as well as the unloading itself. I understand it is not a truly girl stuff but the dear reader has to understand that it does not happen everyday to me, the inhabitant of a landlocked country. That is probably where all my excitement about the port and activities there originate from.
We have been enjoying sites and food for quite a few days now, so it was time to take care of some chores-like tasks again. Once I took care of our reservation for tomorrow visit of Miniatur Wunderland, it was the big tasks’s turn – searching for who might be the best phone service provider and where to get its SIM card. I did not take terribly long until I found some important information online but it was unbelievably hard to discuss my findings with someone who fell asleep in the meantime. However, once the supper time approached, his desire for a meal from the A-grade category woke him up. So, we set to go. Of course, for the sim card first of all.
I hoped that a huge electronics store of the name of Saturn would serve us well. Having made it to the right level, found a plethora of SIM cards and chosen the deal which seemed as the best one for our purpose, a problem occurred. To register a SIM card, a German address was needed. Kinda hard to solve when you are some place as a tourist. A pretty young and well-looking Saturn guy was, thankfully, nice enough to help us as much as he could. He recommended us to go to a small shop, where sim cards without need for registration should be sold. He also navigated us very well to get there – though at that time I already knew we would go to that multicultural neighborhood where we ended up the other day – and gave us some hope for an English-speaking seller. Right the first Handy shop we spotted advertised Lebara SIM cards, which I read about previously. So, we went there to give it a try. I never got to really understand how the queue worked in that particular shop but it was eventually our turn. The guy immediately offered us a Lebara SIM card. Indeed, he really spoke some English. The minor drawback was, though, that it was limited to: “This very good.” and “Ten euros.” I strongly doubted that the sim card actually offered ten euros to be spent (due to a marketing trick € 7,5 seemed more likely to me). As it offered pretty much the same call charges as the ones we saw in Saturn, we got it. Hoping that the guy was right and it would work without the address.
Once we were in this neighborhood, it was decided to search for a place to eat right there. Grandpa was convinced he saw a nice place the other day and we should try it. I think we passed it and ended up in front of some different restaurant. It was called Kabul and it was an Afghan one. To be perfectly honest, I was not very excited at the very beginning. The board they had outside showed about six meals – two of them fish and the other two rabbit. This severely reduced the selection for me. On the other hand, it looked really nice (and safe) inside, so I volunteered to give it a try. When we got the menu, a whole bunch of other dishes popped out, which was not too good either – I never know what to choose. However, we found a great solution. A buffet. I have to admit that I was not really sure what some of the stuff might have been. Meat balls, vegetable salad and lettuce as well as rice seemed familiar though, and moreover, turned out to be really delicious. The only issue to loose marks for, was the increased amount of parsley in the salad. For this reason, I had to do little a bit of picking over. While we worked on the postcard to the USA, a little more space got free in my stomach – just right for a scope of ice cream. They had the delicious and expensive Carte d’Or brand and I chose stracciatella flavor. It was a good choice, which helped the parsley issue to be totally forgotten. We agreed on the grade of A- today.
On the way back to hotel, we noticed fruit and vegetable stands as well as small grocery shops on our favorite street. At one place, there were huge and so good-looking cherries on display that we needed some for our dessert number two. Those cherries were truly a bargain. The salesman originally charged us € 1,5 but changed his mind shortly afterwards and we got the bag of cherries for € 1,0 only. I wonder what made him to give us such a great price. Did he want to make a good deed at the end of the day or did he want to safe an older guy some time while browsing the coins? Or was it my natural charm?
Today was probably the most adventurous day of this trip and definitely one of the days with most new experience and memorable moments in mere 24 hours. I visited one of the world’s biggest ports, participated in making a deal with Turkish vendor and dared to try food at that time completely unfamiliar to me.