Sunday, 4 June 2006

Can I be easily impressed?

Experience dampens first impressions
Sometimes, I do wonder if the tendency to sarcasm laced with informed cynicism has lead to the point that one is not easily impressed.
Then I think to myself and surmise, a lot of things I am involved in end up in a sort of drama in which I hold the starring role.
So, I arrived in Berlin yesterday, a few days before the World Cup just to see how the city has been spruced up, for the global visitors who would invade Germany for just over one month of soccer madness.
It is a shame that we have Roland Garros (Tennis French Open) running into the second week but completely overshadowed by the expectancy of beautiful game. One is not impressed.
Not worthy of getting impressed about
In fact, I would have visited Berlin last week, but the frustration that accompanied trying to book a ticket on the Netherlands Railway (NS) website condemned me to the Humbug trip.
The reason being, until the 28th of May, the main railway station in Berlin was Berlin Zoologischer Garten Hbf (Berlin Zoo) and from the 28th the new station which was heretofore Berlin Lerhter Bahnhof was to become Berlin HauptBahnhof (Berlin Hbf) - the main station - moving it a few kilometres East. One is mildly impressed.
So, the knowledgeable programmers at NS could not effect a flexibility that allowed you a return trip to Berlin - arriving at Berlin Zoo before the 28th May and departing from Berlin Hbf on the 28th of May which happened to be the last day of a long weekend holiday. One was not impressed, not at all.
Banking on getting impressed
So, we arrived at Berlin Hbf, a station on at least 5 levels with shops a-plenty and a palpable atmosphere of readiness for the World Cup.
Finally, found signs to the taxi rank which eventually turned out to be on three sides of the station - a station hardly a week old - some escalators not working - so I heave my lightly packed luggage for two nights, down the stationary escalator towards the exit.
I need a bank - impressionistic antenna in over-drive - beginning to feel seriously unimpressed.
Saw a sign about banks and went in that direction only to realise it was a big advert of 0% rates, fine, there are at least two of those. So, I check the floor directory, no banks two of those levels - I suppose the station intends on run on a cashless basis.
Then, on looking up to the 4th level from the second, I see the sign of the Reise Bank - the Travel Bank is on to a nice little earner; we can pay up to 4% for using their automatic teller machines. Resisting the urge to be utterly unimpressed.
So, I get to the bank and it looks like the ATM is in with the currency counter in the bank shop, so I grab hold of the door handle which runs the length of the door - more or less a pole - as I pull, it yields, but I have no open door, the handle had not been attached properly.
Here I am with handle to the door of the bank in hand, looking like a vandal, when it fact, that was utterly shoddy work. Impressed with myself - people laugh - unimpressed - how many more botched jobs are being fancied up the World Cup?
My impression banked wildly
So, I apologise for my lack of intuition regarding the handle and then find that the ATM is really next to the bank, my powers of keen observation seem to be failing me.
So, I get there and finally I am able to withdraw some money, I would hate to think there is only one ATM in the whole of that station. Have to impress myself with the architecture.
Not really, the station is full of locals who have come to admire the edifice, we tourists and travellers hardly have space to move around - Good Grief!
I finally, got my taxi, and we traversed a tunnel that went as far as Potsdammer Platz - about 2 to 3 kilometres long - even I, did not know there was such a construction taking place under the Tiergarten (Animal Park - zoo to others). I am impressed.
The twins called unimpressed and impressed
As I check-in at the hotel, the lady confuses my AmEx credit card for a guest card, I had to re-present it making the fact known and then it dawned on her, but I get booked into a room with twin beds. That is a no-no.
Next minute, I am back at the reception, but in the lift one of the staff notices I have a problem, I only use double rooms, so goes ahead to effect a correction. Mildly impressed, this is supposed to be a 4* hotel, though as a holder of the Accor Favourite Guest Card, you can get deals that are a steal.
Then, he comes back, the only rooms left have twin beds, I would be offered a drink in compensation; they wished they could do something for me. Well, they could, I would not be fobbed off with a paltry drink, I can buy my own drinks - Unimpressed, definitely.
Put me into another Mercure Hotel of the same standard elsewhere in Berlin - that would be expensive - thankfully, my patience is not tested, he accompanies me to another room, it has a double bed and I also have the free drink to assuage my inconvenience. That is what impressions are made of.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination a vexatious customer, I am just one with a requirement - when you book into a hotel with at least 4 stars, and you can expect that requirement to be met, without fuss.
I was almost impressed upon, but I ended up being impressed.

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