So today, the reason my job is paying for me to be here began. There’s not a deal you can say about the conference – one line summary is, I went, it was OK. Most of this year’s conference, the ‘theme’ if you like, is about a technology known as containerization, which is something we don’t do at all as yet. I find it quite interesting, brilliant even, but I struggle to figure out how we might deploy it in our current setup. I did manage to score a free mini-tankard from the HP stand in the dinner break though!
Anyway, I left the conference at 4.30pm, before the final keynote talks, and took the good old U-2 to Alexanderplatz clutching my fast pass for the lift to the top of the Berliner Fernsehturm. I had been watching the weather forecasts whilst I was here, and yesterday’s forecast had claimed that Tuesday would have a clear(ish) evening but the rest of the week was socked in with cloud and some rain. That decided it, Tuesday it has to be. Sunset was due to be around 6.30pm, so I booked a ticket online for 5.30pm. I actually got to the tower pretty quickly and through the first set of security checks with a good 35 mins to spare. I then asked the guy guarding the stairs to th
e lift area when I should go up, and I think I misunderstood him to say wait here (on the ground floor) until 20 mins before your time, when in fact he must have said go up the stairs and wait up there for another 20 minutes and they’ll let you up. I therefore waited in the wrong place for too long, and when I did go up the stairs 20 mins later and found the waiting area I should have been in, all the people who were waiting there were for the 6pm slot. Yes, it was confusing, not helped by the fact that people were in fact randomly waiting on the ground floor anyway and there were long queues of ‘on the door’ ticket holders everywhere.
Luckily I wasn’t alone in having missed my group being fetched, so another guy and myself managed to catch the eye of one of the ushers, showed him our 5.30pm tickets, and he pushed us through with some of the regular ticket holders going up there and then.
At this point we had to go through another security screening, but this time much more thorough than the previous, in fact much like an airport screening. I don’t mind this at all, but it was the first lot of serious security I had seen in Berlin, which when compared to the armed police and bag searches just about everywhere in Paris a couple of weeks earlier was quite sobering.
So security cleared it was up to the top of the tower; I stayed up there until the sun set and grabbed some pics. A lot of pics actually, but I have just posted the one of them here. The windows in the top didn’t help with picture taking, being dogged with reflections and all sorts, but I did my best. Bear in mind I don’t like heights much and all the time the back of my mind is nagging away that I’m nearly 700 feet up a tower built by the Commies. Anyway, the view in the picture at the top of the post is looking out over West Berlin (duh, it’s a sunset, of course it’s West!) with the Dom in the foreground, following Unter den Linden, through the Brandenburg Gate and into the Tiergarten. My hotel and the conference venue are somewhere under that cluster of tower blocks at the very top left of Tiergarten.
When I came down again, it was nearly dark and Alexanderplatz was really busy with tourists milling round the food and other stalls in the German market. Whilst I wandered around with them I snapped this pic of the train station, which I quite like for it’s colours and to prove that not everything is perfect in Germany – you’ll notice several letters are broke.