Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Die Rundfahrt war ausgezeichnet.

Die Rundfahrt war ausgezeichnet.

My Tuesday in Berlin. This is the long blog post that precedes the next really long blog post about my Wednesday in Berlin. ?

Setting the dogs a-barkin’.

After a fairly decent night’s sleep, I got up at 0700 to search out some Fruehstueck (breakfast). There was a cozy shop just across the street from the hotel with some truly wonderful coffee and a chocolate croissant that hit the spot just right. I found the stand for the Berlino Rundgang bus and managed to buy the 20-euro “all day” ticket without speaking English. However, the young lady at the stand had me figured out after she gave me directions on where to meet the bus. “Would you rather I speak English?” she asked with a smile.

I replied, “Let me see how well I did. Cross the street, and catch any bus at the stop where there’s one standing now?”

“Genau!” (“Exactly!”) she replied. Yay! Points for me.

The next several hours I spent traipsing all over Berlin, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to visit the country I’ve been dreaming about for 25 years and not see as much of it as I can. Since I’m stuck in Berlin more or less, that means Berlin will have to stand in for all of Germany. I realize that’s a bit unfair, but my German friends should know that Berlin did a super job. ? The day was mostly overcast but the slight coolness was refreshing, and eventually the sun came out during the last legs of my tour around the city.

My first stop was Postdamer Platz, from where I saw the Kulturforum, the city orchestra’s performance hall, the city library, and the Sony Center.

One thing worth noting about Berlin is the way that the angular, modern architecture cohabitates without shame with lush forest greenery, and equally lush and unabashed advertisements for slight bits of fabric draped over skin. No problem with that here — Berlin is a city very comfortable in its own skin (and out of its clothes), which I discovered on my walk to the hotel yesterday from the zoo, during which I passed the garish but apparently very popular Erotik-Museum. And yes, I did say “passed.”

Next up was Checkpoint Charlie, where the soldiers don’t seem like they’d really pass muster:

The Checkpoint seems to attract a lot of young people. They bustle about, jostling the sightseers and laughing. “Feuer?” one asks me. “Nein,” I reply, empty hands raised in a shrug, “es tut mir leid.” I get a shot of a remaining DDR obelisk and a fragment of the old Wall, flanked by adolescent Berliners affecting urban cool. Futilely responding with a fit of uncoolness, I get my passport stamped as evidence of my visit to Charlie for a couple euros. The young man at the stand assures me that it does not invalidate my passport; in a worst case scenario, I suppose I’ll be stuck here long enough to regain more of my language skills.

Although the Juedisches Museum Berlin’s stark design beckons, I have a lot of stops still to make. So I vacate quickly for the Gendarmenmarkt:

A kindly older gentleman with a surfeit of laugh wrinkles around his eyes and a well-maintained accordion nimbly hops through some Brahms and Mozart. I drop some coins in his case and he allows me to take a little bit of video to show my kids. The next stop is Alexanderplatz, where I see the Berlinerdom:

There’s a unique sculpture garden there as well, with a huge bronze Marx and Engels looking across the park. One imagines them wincing inwardly and stoically at the oncoming wave of commercialization:

At least the water maidens are serene, though:

LinuxTag, Day 0.

Pretty soon it’s getting close to time for Max to arrive from the Netherlands, whence he’s flying with Jeroen. My feet are starting to ache a bit, but miles to go before I sleep, and all that rot. Once Max gets to the hotel, it’s not long before we hit the road again, this time heading to the Messezentrum where LinuxTag is being held. We’re going there to meet Gerold, Jens, and the other Ambassadors.

We take the wrong station exit, which means we get a firsthand experience of the gargantuan expanse of the Messezentrum grounds — the building that I mistakenly assume at first is our destination, is just one of many, many halls that are each bigger than football fields, dotting the perimeter of the property. Finally we find Halle 7 and the site of the LinuxTag expo:

When we arrive, you can see the amount of meticulous, painstaking work that the Fedora Ambassadors have put into planning this event. First, the booth is located at the foremost entrance to the Linux hall, so basically the first thing that people see as they arrive in the hall will be this enormous, professional looking stand:

I also get to meet Harald Hoyer, and we have a nice chat about the upcoming event, his long tenure at Red Hat, and his upcoming hazing induction into the Fedora Board.

After setup is all complete and everyone admires the handywork, it’s downstairs to have a meeting of the Fedora EMEA e.V. organization, introductions for everyone around the room, and a briefing about expectations for the event. We also get to pick up our blue Ambassador polo shirts so we can have a standardized and very professional appearance (to complement our very professional booth).

I knew that the Ambassador team here was organized and experienced, but even so, I’m simply amazed beyond words at what they’ve accomplished for LinuxTag. There’s a set of pedestals with elegant laptop computers set up with Fedora that invite passersby to try their hand; XO laptop units to show off the Sugar interface; a LiveUSB “filling station” where attendees can get their own bootable flash drive of Fedora 9; and of course a bevy of incredibly skilled and knowledgeable Ambassadors to answer questions and spread goodwill!

We have to split the group up to find late accommodations for dinner, but everyone ultimately gets fed and watered (or water substituted, as the case may be). We agree to meet back in the lobby at 8:00am to depart en masse for the S-Bahn train back to the Messezentrum.

Yes, my blog posts always run a day behind. You can blame it on a combination of jet lag, and being a frustrated writer. LinuxTag Day 1 information coming soon.