While the better part of the past week has consisted of lots of lovely things about Berlin, it hasn’t been all wonderful. In fact, I’ve already had my fair share of misunderstandings and getting lost – although, surprisingly, no homesickness…yet.
Two days ago, I went to Deutsche Bank to open an account, because there are certain things I just can’t accomplish without one. I mapped out my route the evening before and even arrived five minutes early. The only problem? I’d come on the wrong day. Yes, in my state of German language overload, I’d actively agreed on a “Donnerstag” appointment and wrote down the time for Wednesday instead.
Feeling frustrated with myself, namely because it was another day that important things would be put off, I decided to be at least somewhat productive and head to Innsbruckerplatz, which was the station close to the Zollamt, or customs office, in my area.
Getting there was easy enough, but once I stepped out of the station, I became disoriented, and because it was such a cloudy day, I had no sun in the sky to rely on for direction. So, it turns out, I ended up walking aimlessly throughout the neighborhood of Friedenau, before I eventually realized I was likely heading in the wrong direction. I did enjoy it though, and I’m working on turning any and every thing that happens to me into a learning experience, so at the very least, I was able to discover and walk through a very lovely area.
Once I got back to the station, I walked past it and noticed a street name that was familiar from the map, so I decided to head down that way. (This is where a cell phone would have been nice, because I could have looked up where to go, but alas, I need a bank account before I can get a cell phone.) After a walk that seemed to me to be much too long, I came across a park, so I sat there a bit, drinking my Club-Mate and pondering what I should do next. Eventually I decided I should just go home, and try again the following day.
As I made my way back to the train station, just before I arrived, I looked up at the street sign and there was the street I needed. I’d passed it already, but just hadn’t noticed. I sighed to myself and made my way down the street, arriving 10 minutes later at the customs office.
My experience there was quite similar to the one of registering the day before. I got a number, and of course the guy helping me spoke no English, so we had a haphazard discussion in German, before I took a seat. Eventually my number came up, and I was called into another room, where I was informed that the package my father had sent me (of things which already belonged to me) had a tax on it. So, a short discussion with a guy who looked like he felt sorry for me, more sitting down, another discussion with an angry German woman, and 29 euros later, I had my giant box with my ukulele, and other things.
Next I had to lug this awkward (but thankfully unheavy) box back to the station, where I took the ring back to my place, and eventually came home. But after the adventure of the morning (it was only 12:30 when I returned home), I decided I was content to clean, do laundry and hole up in my room the remainder of the day.
The following morning I left at 9:30, in order to make it to the bank for my real appointment, at 10 a.m. As luck would have it, two stops into my ride, my train stopped. The announcement overhead said something about police, and another announcement told passengers to get out and catch a nearby bus.
Reluctantly, we all headed out into the rain and down the block to catch the bus. The wait was about 10 minutes, and finally when we saw the bus coming, we all stepped toward the curb – only to watch the completely-packed bus pass right by us without stopping.
We all let out a collective sigh, and noting that it was already past the time my appointment was for, I muttered a quiet “fuck this” and started walking to Hermannplatz, which was the next stop. Some 10 minutes later I arrived, and was able to map out a route, taking the U7 and transferring to the U1, which finally put me at my destination, albeit nearly 40 minutes later. Luckily, the bank people we kind and understanding and I was able to keep my appointment.
Of course, the downside to this is that apparently DB needs a day or two to set up the actual account, so I can’t deposit money, nor can I get a cell phone number yet, until this account is confirmed. Argh. And so begins the waiting game again.