Berlin notes 2024. Part I - Arrival

April 7, 2024

Travel is a skill. It takes time, effort and knowledge to plan everything properly, to figure out what opportunities will be on the way and to act accordingly on the field when things are not going as planned.
Travel is also one of many skills I lack, and even though a good friend has been investing heavily in my education in this area, there is a lot to learn still.
Until then, as someone who is not a skillful and frequent traveler yet, I’m still getting back to my senses from February’s travel to Germany, Berlin. It was my first travel in 2024, and the first time ever in Germany.
The goal of the travel was simple: two days with a live event on the day one’s evening. No sightseeing, no meeting with anyone – I didn’t have any acquaintances in Berlin or anywhere nearby. There and back, nice and easy.

Until the very last moment I was not sure if I should go. After all, it’s been four years since the last time I was on a live concert, and back then it didn’t end well.
Still, I felt like if I don’t go, I will regret for a very long time. I’ve already missed several concerts when I was living in St Petersburg (and at least one of those bands is not active anymore, while another one had parted with one of the members). After all, bands are not here forever, and the fact that some are still there after many many years is a huge luck which should not be underestimated.

So, with this uncomplicated logic in about a week before the actual live show I decided to go for it, bought my tickets and departed.
It was super-easy to organize the travel. After all, Germany is not that far, and I only went for two days. The event ticket purchase was also as easy as it possibly could have been – just go to the official website of the distributor in Germany and purchase with any common bank card.

Helsinki airport, chill as usual, was a pleasure to be in, and despite the delay of the boarding, we took off in time.
Then, some very fast, barely noticeable flight, during which I could write a blog post (14′ macbook fit perfectly, as expected) – and we arrived.
It didn’t took long to figure out how to get to the train station. Using an app for purchasing public transport tickets has also been very easy and convenient. I decided to go for a 24 hours ticket just in case, and it served me well later.
Because, well, after Helsinki, I severely underestimated the scale of Berlin. The idea was: if I stay at a hotel relatively close to the city center, there will be no problem to get by foot to the concert venue. In addition, my company’s office was (supposedly!) not so far away.
This “not so far away” ended up being about 20 minutes ride on a bus, to each of my destinations. I also had a chance to check out the metro while looking for lunch.

The first impression of Berlin: I smell pastry everywhere, and it’s delicious; there is no decent coffee anywhere at sight.
One interesting thing was: I also couldn’t figure out if drinking tap water was ok or not, so decided to play safe and either buy it or boil it at the hotel.

Before the hotel check-in though, I still had several hours left, so I moved towards the office. I had a laptop and wanted to complete couple tasks, drink some proper coffee and meet new people.
Despite seeing me for the first time ever, colleagues were super-nice, and we immediately departed to lunch. It was very helpful, because I would not find such a nice lunch place by myself from the first try, that’s for sure.

We were discussing the state of AI in the world, the state of IT in Berlin and why there are so little crosswalks for pedestrians (as I was told, the priorities in city planning has been changed suddenly, and the focus unfortunately moved from pedestrians to cars).