Diary of an Expat, Part 46
... in which we return to Berlin
Because I am back in Berlin, that means that I am back biking :3

It was a nice day, this Saturday, and I biked down to Friedrichshain before exploring some of the area around the Spree. Berlin is very, very good at this — you can spend a lot of time skirting the water's edge on hard-dirt paths, listening to the sound of waves on moored boats and gliding past the mosquito hordes that lie in wait to devour any passers-by.

It's starting to get darker earlier, which is something of a shame, I guess. But it also has been cooling off, and that makes it a little bit more fun to go on these long nighttime bikerides, down desolate streets and through empty parks in those city corners that the city sometimes seems to have forgotten.

I sometimes have this thought, where biking is concerned, and it goes something like, "you know, Berlin, if some random fat American asshole with a fifty-pound bike is consistently overtaking you, you're doing biking wrong." Then I realize that, of course, it doesn't really matter because they'll just catch me up at the next light, and there's always a next light here.

Of course as an American I'm too concerned in where I'm going. If I had to sum up the difference between how Berliners and how Americans navigate their cities, I would say that Berliners are out to go places and Americans are out to get places. Generally I have a destination in mind, and it's important to me that I be able to reach it something like on time.

However, because "on time" is not a concept that Berliners are generally familiar with, it's better to budget a little bit extra and just see what the city has to offer. Considering that it always has something — the ad-hoc art galleries, the graffiti, the way that the setting sun casts rays of light off the windows of a passing train to a fast staccato beat — this isn't really a waste of anyone's time.

I can think about these things because when I get off work I am no longer wasting time on the Internet. I am no longer wasting time on the Internet because, courtesy of Telekom, I no longer have Internet. My modem has power, and it runs the WLAN fine, but it is not talking to its buddies down in central-DSL-land and this is a problem.

I had hoped that this was because of construction that is going on in my apartment. I didn't have Internet before I left for the states on vacation, and I had sort of hoped in my heart of hearts that a worker had taken out a cable and, by the time I got back, somebody would've come out and fixed this. However, while the construction work is still ongoing my Internet is not yet back, and I have to imagine that the other people in the apartment aren't keen on going without 'net any more than I am, so if it was more than just me it would likely have already been called in.

I called Telekom, and got to a point where I seemed to be waiting on hold, but then I had to go, so I wound up sending them an E-mail instead. I know that they know my E-mail address and customer information, and apparently so do they, because they waited until they had another bill to send out to reply to me, and they sent them both together. Which was nice; it shows they care.

The reply says that it is unfortunate that my telephone service is now not able to have a connection, although it does not propose, strictly speaking, any resolutions to this problem.

Until these things are settled, I have a 3G modem from O2 that I am paying daily for. It's not terribly expensive, and it's pretty fast, so all in all I'm not super disappointed with this state of affairs — but the bandwidth cap is downright miserly, and that is a bit irritating. We'll see how things go — like, there are some things I would like to do that require bandwidth (uploading large amounts of media) and I would like to play me some MechWarrior Online already :<

But it is, at the moment, not to be.

The way that prepaid works in Germany is you buy a sim-card from O2 (or wherever). You can essentially put money on it anywhere, either directly or in the form of redeemable vouchers. Everyone sells these vouchers, and there are even kiosks at certain train stations. Not that you need that — if you have your phone number you can type it into any ATM and add money to your account right from there. It's ridiculously simple. For €35 a month I could have 7.5GB of 14Mbps Internet, which isn't all that shabby.

Right now I'm paying by the day, in the hopes that Telekom will get their act together in fewer than ten days (it's €3.5 a day for 1GB). This may prove to be optimistic, but there's a shop right across the street that sells O2 prepaid cards I can use to onload money to my account.

I've just come back from this shop, indeed. The card was €15. I handed over a twenty-euro note, and then entered into one of those riddles where you try to figure out what denominations someone has when they tell you how many coins they're holding and their total value. As it turns out, the answer is:
  • 3 50-cent pieces (€1.50)
  • 9 20-cent pieces (€1.80)
  • 14 10-cent pieces (€1.40) and finally
  • 6 5-cent pieces (€.30)

Which gives me a grand total of many freaking coins.

But I have to do laundry tomorrow, so I guess it all comes out in the wash.
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