Wednesday 27th July, 2022
So today the Big Bag is packed for the final time for a while and I am heading back to Scotland.
I treated myself to a Premier Inn breakfast (they even do Baked Beans, although I wouldn't thank you for them) before the walk to the Zoologischer Garten station.
For once Deutsche Bahn managed to produce a train on time and not full, and so it was off to Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Apparently long-awaited and massively over budget I was keen to see how good it was!
The auto bag drop was fine once I worked out it was a two stage process. 1) print your baggage tag and attach to bag then 2) in a different location load said bag onto a conveyor belt and get a receipt.
Then it was time for Security. The queue was long but not ridiculous, and eventualy when you get near the front of that queue you choose a mini-queue for each scanner. I got behind the "family from hell" who had no concept of what they were allowed or not allowed to take through (I saw them arguing over pots of yoghurt) and because of the way the scanner was managed there was no way to bypass them. Eventually it was my turn and I was slightly disconcerted to see my laptop being taken aside for examination - turned out it had to be scanned for explosives. Never happened before.
Finally I got through (and stabbed the red sad face feedback button!). The departure board said gate C17 and I was by now getting slightly short of time so decided to go through passport control and then find something to eat and drink. Big Mistake! After passport control (more on that in a moment) there is nothing, apart from another Duty Free shop. No catering, no shops. Just some vending machines! Be Warned!
Passport control took some time as I ended up in a micro queue behind someone who was being lengthily questioned by the border official.
Finally it was my turn and said official then tried to make sense of my passport stamps. There is no rhyme nor reason to how they put them on the pages - I had most stamps on one page but a couple at random on other pages. However the issue was, I had no stamp for entering Germany. This was, in fact, perfectly in order, as you only get stamped on entering / leaving the Schengen area. Alles in Ordnung once I explained I had crossed the border into Germany by train. I do have a spreadsheet showing everything as I think at some point it may become necessary!
After an uneventful flight I collected Big Bag and went to catch the bus to Stirling - I had booked a seat because of train strikes. That was lucky as the bus was full! I met a volunteering friend on the bus and we had a good natter on the journey to Stirling.
Oh - no photos taken today - sorry!
So - that's me for a week or two. The next trip is likely to be UK based and then I will head for southern Europe after the Stirling Highland Games on 20th August. There will be the odd update in the meantime!