Pint Size Media were invited to Germany for the launch of a World Tour cycling team, the newly sponsored Team Giant Alpecin. The trip included a day in Berlin, the country’s capital, as well as a quick stop in Bielefeld, where sponsor, Alpecin is based.
Our trip began on Monday afternoon with a little time at OR Tambo airport. We arrived early to ensure easy passage through customs and security, so once through passport control, we spent some money and relaxed in the BidVest lounge in International departures. We enjoyed wines, soft drinks as well as the traditional Bloody Mary cocktail while we waited for our flight to be called.
After an hour or two we made out way to the boarding gate to board our Lufthansa A380 flight to Frankfurt. Unfortunately, while boarding, a passenger had a medical emergency and the flight was delayed as the passenger had to be seen to by a doctor on board.
Once airborne, a meal of tomato chicken was served along with very tasty red wine. Our only complaint was that water was served in little glasses and we would have preferred a small bottle that we could access throughout the flight. But saying that, the cabin crew were on hand at all times to fill up our glasses and they made a point of telling us that drinks were available in the gallies.
The flight was bouncy, and with the excitement of a new experience, the flight seemed really long. The economy class of Lufthansa wasn’t great with leg room just that little small. The in-flight entertainment was great with a large variety of movies and music on a personal touch screen situated in the seat in front of you.
Due to the delay at take off, we arrived at Frankfurt a little late and it was a rush to try and make our connecting flight. We tried our best, but if you have ever landed at Frankfurt, you will know that the airport is one of the biggest in Europe. We landed at gate Z66 and we walked for what felt like hours. Once we reached the central hub, there was another security check. But what a check it was! We had to take ALL electronics out of our luggage, and as we are a production company, we carry a lot of electronic goods, like batteries, microphone cables and cameras. Once walking through the metal detector, we had to have a full body pat-down and we had to remove our shoes. Suffice to say, after all of that, we missed our connecting flight as well as the next one. We made our way to a friendly Lufthansa assistant desk and they booked us into the next flight to Berlin. They also gave a 5 Euro voucher to buy a little coffee and breakfast of lovely pastries available at the airport.
After a short wait, we boarded the short flight to Berlin and landed in the capital with rain and a high of around 4 degrees centigrade. We caught a cab to our hotel, the Grand Hyatt Berlin, a modern, 5 star hotel situated in the heart of the city. After a quick shower and change, we headed off to explore Berlin as best we could in the 6 hours we had left in the day before our first Alpecin gathering and dinner.
Trying to condense Berlin into a few hours is impossible. The city is large and there is much to see. We decided to focus on the recent history of the Berlin Wall. The square on which our hotel was based was ground zero for the wall, so access to all the attractions was very easy. We also made our way to Checkpoint Charlie, but a local told us that it’s the “Disney World” of Berlin as nothing there is original. Everything is a reproduction, which was a little sad. We would have like to see some of the original artefacts from the era.
After a long walk around the city, as best we could, we asked the hotel concierge to suggest a market of some sort. They suggested that we take an underground train to see a Turkish Market on the other side of the city. They gave us a map and instructions and off we went to explore the public transport of the city. And it could not have been easier. We bought a ticket, found the right station and we were off to experience the city as a local. A short walk from the station and we found the market filled with great food, amazing materials and cheap clothing. We would suggest you shop at a market like this one instead of spending your money in a regular store. It’s certainly cheaper, and much more entertaining.
We made our way back to the hotel for the first presentation from Alpecin.