Monday, September 22, 2008

Nach Berlin and Beyond

It is 5am, and I have just finished figuring out the charging system on my Mininote (apparently if you completely discharge a Li-Ion battery, it will take ages for it to get back the first 20%; after that it will charge rapidly, as normal). The bus’s electrical system is 24V, and my car charger isn’t rated for that.

Poland is bits of brilliant interstate bookended by stretches of dual carriageway in a very odd fashion; the autobahns appear to start from nowhere and lead nowhere. Germany, as seen from the road, is essentially featureless, and I look longingly at the posh bahnstormers in the left lane; I want to come back here with my own car. We stop for a late lunch at a massive strip mall on the Berlin bypass, basically a bigger Lõunakeskus – think of the Rocca-al-Mare mall in Tallinn and you’ll be about there. I trawl the shops and remark again upon the lack of visible counterculture in Western Europe. I have lost some 30kg since my surgery, and can now expect to find appropriate sizes in most big clothes stores, but as I walk around C&A – chosen because it doesn’t have stores in Estonia – I am disappointed: same drab stuff, nothing worth buying even at a bargain price. The electronics are marginally cheaper, but we’ll be doing a run to Andorra, Europe’s VAT-less shopping paradise, so I hold off. Besides, fucking Germans probably wouldn’t accept my Visa card anyway.

The F1 hotel outside Leipzig is conceptually impressive – just short of being entirely self-service. For 26 Euro per night per room, whether it fits one person or three, it is certainly good money. But I’m suffering from information withdrawal. Only the threat of horrifyingly expensive mobile roaming charges stops me from hooking up my mobile to the laptop. If Tele2 offered an m-pilet type deal on pan-European roaming – a fixed fee for 24 hours of unlimited data – you would have been reading this article a lot sooner.

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