Inspired by the travel notes of one of my colleagues I thought I’d jot down some initial thoughts about the trip so far.
- It’s a very long way – the trip from Brisbane to Berlin with changes in Singapore and Helsinki is more than 30 hours of travel, and little of it comfortable. However breaking the flight for an overnighter on the way seems counterproductive as the immigration/customs side of the trip is the most tedious part
- Not all airlines are equal – Etihad from Brisbane to Singapore was a much more comfortable flight than Finnair from Singapore to Helsinki. On both the staff were more than friendly and competent but the Finnair is just that little more cramped, and has fewer facilities.
- Entering Europe is a breeze – we entered the Schengen area via Helsinki, and while security checks of our hand luggage was thorough it wasn’t over the top. Berlin was shock as Tegel was like entering via a country airport – we picked up our luggage from the conveyor and walked through the door to the taxi rank.
- AirBnB accommodation is great – none of us had used AirBNB before but found the experience after arriving terrific. Our host was in town to meet us, show us through the place, explained everything that needed explaining and then left us to recuperate from our flight. Main thing to look for – make sure it has free wifi 🙂
- Transport – our major expenditure so far has been on month long tickets for Berlin’s AB zone. It covers rail and bus and we made sure we bought the flexible monthly rather than the calendar monthly as we are here for part of April and part of May. We caught three trains and two buses yesterday so I suspect at €78 Euro it will be a bargain!
Sim cards – there are a range of SIM cards for mobile phones available, all about €10. The three of us bought ours at the same time from the O2 store so have free calls and SMS between them. Other calls inside Germany are 9c a minute. We upgraded with a 500Mb data package for the month, and some extra call top up, so for €24 we are set for the duration. Our main concern was we needed to activate everything in store with the English speaking assistant as the normal method is to ring a number but that is all in German. The O2 assistant was more than helpful even though the three of us took all his time for more than half an hour.