Wednesday, August 11, 2004
9/8/04 and 10/8/04 Strausberg (Berlin)
Swaantje has lent Cathy her (somewhat) clapped out old campervan called “Bussy”. In it Cathy and I go to the Strausberg airfield to spend some time at the Stemme factory. An interesting trip that one, two right hand drivers in a left hand drive world. But we finally get there without crashing. Once again Strausberg is most interesting as it was part of the old GDR and some evidence exists if you look hard enough. There are the remains of an emergency services call system. I don’t know what it is called but in some places you will see a box with a push button from a time when private phones were not so common. At least that’s what Harmut from the factory told me they were.
Anyway, we spent two days at the Stemme factory learning the ins and outs of the S10. All the employees of the factory go to the local government offices for lunch, so that is where we went too. I have pretty much got the hang of a lot of the dishes common in Germany and can usually battle through buying stuff as well. Another discovery was the drink supplied by the factory for the employees, a cold tea based drink. The one I preferred was a very sour lemon flavoured tea.
On the airport itself is an advertising blimp which I see later flying around Berlin, but it leaves in the morning and comes back in the evening. When I first saw it, it had come back for the night. Suddenly about twenty to thirty blokes appear as if from no where and go out on to the field to catch the spider lines. Just like in the old films from the 30’s. It then manoeuvres until they attach it to the docking mast. One brave individual climbs up a ladder on the mast to make the connection secure. After the event I realize where the bloke all came from. There is a little encampment of cars and transportable buildings which they must have stayed in all day. Odd sort of job that one. It must be exceedingly boring unless they have some other tasks while the blimp is away.Apart from my night in Frankfurt, my time in Strausberg was also the only other time I stayed in a hotel in Germany. In this case, the “Hotel Annablick”. Far better accommodation than Cathy’s in “Bussy”.
Cathy needs a recharge for her phone card so we go to the local shopping centre. Apart from the normal toy shops, hardware and the rest, one of the shops sells different forms of alcohol (and some cooking oils). But there are no branded bottles. You buy or bring your own bottle and decant whatever you want out of many glass bottles on display on the walls and shelves of the shop. Each bottle is of about 15 liters or so. They are simply labeled as “brandy”, “schnapps” or whatever. For tea we go to the Chinese restaurant at the shopping centre. Hmm, ordering Chinese food from German speakers. The words are written the same, but our Australian pronunciations throw them completely.The last night in Strausberg I go for a walk to check out the nearest tram station to catch tomorrow. The station, a well built cavernous brick structure, is on the populated side of the rail lines. The other side of the lines is a wooded area which I walk into. Within a few metres it seems I am in a totally enclosed forest. I couldn’t imagine this as a few hundred metres from the hotel and a few 10’s of kilometers from the centre of Berlin.