Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Taking a Walk

Feeling good simply taking a walk down a busy street…

Yesterday I decided to take the bus home instead of the subway. It takes about ten minutes longer to get home, but sometimes it is really worth the extra time and effort. I ended up going for a walk down the Ku'damm (Kurfürstendamm - the Berliners have a nickname for everything!) before taking the final bus home. This is a street known as the shopping/tourist center of the old west Berlin, and also happens to be the street on which I work. It was so interesting to see all of the tourists… they mill around with their eyes wide open, surveying everything around them.

Many times an innocent bystander can catch snippets of conversation… You can hear different dialects of German, Spanish, Italian, funky British English, and of course the Orientals are running around making the occasional twing-twang while snapping thousands of pictures with their expensive cameras.

The funny thing for me is to see a couple that are fighting. Usually it is the woman giving the man hell, many times about them being lost or late or something similar. Sometimes it isn't the best thing to be traveling together… all that time with only each other, and little or no breaks… it wears on even the best of relationships.

Another funny thing is to see the intrepid explorers ambling down the street with their head buried in a travel book. HEY! You're HERE! Open your eyes and enjoy… stop trying to learn about all of the minute details… experience the city!

Then of course you have the map readers… They are trying to find something, and it is obvious they are hopelessly lost. I have pity for them, I've totally been there. Normally I will listen for a moment and try to hear what they are searching for. If it is a language I can understand, and I know how to tell them where to go, I will ask them if I can help.

The ones I really feel sorry for are the ones that have the "I'm lost" face and still have their luggage in tow… they are completely new, still carrying around all of their belongings, and have NO idea where they are. Usually I can at least get them going in the right direction, even if we don't speak the same language. My Mother always taught me that it was impolite to point… gotta tell you, much of my non-English communication wouldn't be possible without being able to point at a map, then point in a direction.

I've met some of the nicest people while providing this service. They are always so happy and show incredible amounts of gratitude for such a simple gesture. Many of them immediately hear the American accent and comment on it. When I do this for a German they show the greatest surprise, but are always quite patient with my crappy language abilities.

Really I think I have the wrong job. Perhaps I should work in the travel industry. It would give me great pleasure to help people understand and learn about this great city. Hmm… maybe it wouldn't be limited to this city, probably just anywhere… but maybe a good place to start would be the city I enjoy so much… Berlin, Germany.

"Here is the Wiki about the Ku'damm".
"This is a 360 of the main corner... where I started yesterday's walk".

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