Berlin is absolutely fascinating with all the juxtaposition of new construction framing the old dilapidated buildings everywhere. I mean, I’ve already complained about how the constant detours have already affected some of the S-bahn travels.
Another historic (less so than what’d you find in history books) item nestled in Berlin is an abandoned theme park called Spreepark. The park closed in 2002, and attempts to do anything with the site have been unsuccessful until recently (when we went, it looks like they’re developing the area from 2016-2018 or sth). But that meant that there was a closed off piece of land with various attractions hidden inside for you to gawk at. So we just had to go.
For one way travel, it’s about an hr from the middle of Berlin, and 30 minutes from where our hostel was. So the friend and I went out the morning of our last day, but only had about 10 minutes to wander the area. In hindsight, I guess we needed more time to dig around. But the trek to the park led us through winding narrow dirt roads hidden within the forest. Pretty cool scene. Glad we got to do this.
Back to the hostel, and we said our goodbyes to our 3rd member, who’s off to continue adventuring in Europe (jelly). The two of us going home pick up a taxi to the airport. As I mentioned before, Berlin’s in the process of getting that new airport up and running, and it can’t come soon enough, because Berlin-Tegel (TXL) only has one main road to get in and out of the airport, and bus is the only pub trans you can use. From our location, we would’ve had to travel by S-bahn/U-bahn to the Hauptbahnhof and then hop on the bus. Which Google said was a 40 minute trip, but probably would’ve taken like an hour. Too much work man.
Even though we booked through Lufthansa, this leg of the trip back home was codeshared onto Swiss Airlines, which is a product I haven’t flown before, so that was nice to try out. Another A320 from TXL-ZRH, where we had 50 minutes to make our connection. The flight over was just over an hour, and we got a little sandwich and drink for snack (better than peanuts/pretzels on US domestics! haha) Reviews online have said ZRH has one of the best lounges out there, with a view overlooking the tarmac/runway (Priority Pass actually offers FIVE lounges in ZRH). With that short window for transfer, I didn’t get a chance to indulge in that luxury. I will be back for you.
As with most Schengen (European Union area) to non-Schengen (basically int’l) flights, you gotta transfer between terminals. I think I had the same terrible experience doing DUB-CDG-SFO last year. Because we were parked in the middle of nowhere, had to bus to the gate (and we were on the 2nd bus because I picked seats too far back. My mistake), then run to the tram that take us to the int’l terminal. As always, the gate you need is the furthest away lol. Something I found interesting was that they had scheduled a SFO and LAX flight departing just 5 minutes apart.
A small thing I’ve enjoyed with Swiss Airlines (history: they were taken over by Lufthansa in 2005) is that they give out chocolate after/during the flight! It’s a nice little treat (airberlin did the same for us as well). The ZRH-LAX bird was a Boeing 777-300ER, which is the usual craft I’m seeing nowadays on transpacific flights between US and Asia, with seating arranged in a 3-4-3 setting. Yeah, I preferred the Lufthansa LAX-MUC A340 we flew over in a 2-3-2 configuration. But oh well.
Swiss Economy greets us with a large 11″ touch screen IFE system, which is one of the larger ones I’ve seen, I think. Unfortunately, there was no tilting mechanism, so when the seat in front of you leans all the way back, you’re stuck staring at the screen at an awkward angle, unless you also tilt your seat all the way back, starting a chain reaction I guess. Also, when the seat got pushed back, it seemed to swallow up our table space immensely. I don’t recall losing so much space on other aircraft seating configurations. So pros and cons.
We got a meal and a snack for the duration of this flight, and I’d say the meal was pretty good. Closer to landing, the snack we got was a weird tomato and pepper calzone. I was hoping for a full on meal, seeing as it was a 12 hr flight. Lufthansa gave us two meals on the flight over.
So, as an fyi, most int’l transatlantic/transpacific flights on regular carriers will serve you alcohol free of charge (Condor Airlines, which I flew a few months ago to Germany, doesn’t count as “regular” airline – low cost carrier sadness). I had some Swiss beer “Quöllfrisch” and a Swiss white wine “Vin De Pays Suisse.” Both were quite delicious. I only wish I had more lol.
As everyone knows, arriving in LAX via int’l flight is a huge PITA to get through. Passport check was easy enough, with the whole automated kiosk thing they implemented a few years ago. Baggage pick-up also wasn’t too bad. But the line to get past baggage check/customs took forever. I don’t even know why the line got so huge and moved so slowly. For the other entry points I’ve had at SFO and PHL, I had no such problems. But LAX, even after renovations, is absolutely turrible man. It was about 1.5 hrs from landing to reaching curbside, and then of course the hour or so trek to get back home. Absolutely draining.
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