Friday, December 13th. The American Council on Germany's 2013 Climate and Energy Tour is officially over. But I am not quite done yet. Not only do I want to polish off one last delicious frühstück at the Westin Grand, but I've booked an additional night several miles away at the Hotel Astrid in the Kurfürstendamm Shopping District. I won't have a lot of time for shopping or sightseeing...this was just a Travelocity choice based on a good rate with easy access to both a U-Bahn station and a bus directly to Tegel Airport for my Saturday departure.
I am planning to put together a story or two to run in February concerning this trip, and I have had very little time to shoot video. I've managed three brief interviews (with excerpts included on previous pages of this blog), but have one more interview scheduled, and I need to shoot a couple of standups* and teases. While much of the centerpiece of this Tour has been renewable energy--primarily solar and wind--the irony is that up until now there has been very little wind and we have not seen the sun once since arrival. However, I am in luck! On this last full day, the sun is out! But the days are short in mid-December Northern Germany, so I need to get cracking.
One ingredient I want to get on video, is the perspective of a fellow Tour participant, and Edward Stern has agreed to meet with me. He's the one who I was chatting with on the very first night we arrived...only to realize we had met almost two decades earlier in Crested Butte, Colorado where he was reporter/editor/photographer for the town newspaper. Eddie's lived an interesting and varied life since then, and these days is the Executive Director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association. So he knows more about renewables than me--a traffic and transportation reporter--from the git-go. And since like me, Eddie hails from a Western state with abundant sunshine, that leaves me several potential areas to ask him about. Eddie joins me out on Friederichstraße where we have a brief conversation on camera. You can find the link to an excerpt on the upper left side of this page.
From there, it's down the stairs to the subway system. The U-6 takes me to the Hallesches Tor station where I switch to the U-1 for a ride to its western terminus at Uhlandstraße. While walking the two blocks to my hotel, I note the times posted for catching the 109 bus to Tegel Airport the next morning. The bus stop is about 50 feet from the Hotel Astrid's front door. And with a bus scheduled at 7:30 and my plane departing at 9:45, I will have just enough time to squeeze in frühstück, which starts at 7:00.
I've stayed in places like the Hotel Astrid before. It's not a stand-alone building, but rather occupies one floor, while the rest is presumably residential. Rather than climb the long staircase to the 2nd floor check-in, I call for the elevator, which has an interior and exterior door--both manually operated--and offers a four person maximum capacity. The room is surprisingly large with a very high ceiling, and I am happy to find that it has its own bathroom/shower. I've been to some of these smaller places where the facilities are down the hall. All is good, and about 45 minutes later, I am out the door.
A short bus ride takes me back to the Zoologisher Garten station which is the gateway to Kurfürstendamm and is right next to another large Weihnachtsmarkt similar to the one in Gendarmenmark where the week started. After a short walk, I find a nice place to sit down, grab a kafee, a Kugelschreiber und Papier and think about what I want to do for standups and teases. I like to leave standups for last, so that I can come up with something that will logically fit into the flow of the story. But I really won't have a feel for that until I get a chance back home to go back over the interviews I recorded in Germany, as well as add a couple of more from Nevadans. But I put together two standups and two teases which I think are specific enough to address some of what we've been learning...but also loose enough to give me a little leeway to write around. Good enough.
For the first location, I don't move too far. I want something that will include traffic in the background, but will also clearly be Berlin at a glance. So I find a wide median island on Kurfürstendammstraße and frame my camera to include the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in the background. This is a very distinctive landmark on the edge of the Ku-damm, and I've been here before. You can find a link to my 2009 "Video Postcard" about it on the upper left side of this page.
After multiple takes to get it right and some odd looks from passing Berliners, it's off to my second location...the Reichstag. There is not a direct U-Bahn connection, so instead I go to the Zoo-Garten station and hop on a Regional Express headed for Cottbus but with a stop at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station), where there's a U-Bahn connection that serves only the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.
The Berlin Hauptbahnhof is a relatively new structure that just finally opened in 2006. It's on the same site as the historic Lehrter Stadtbahnhof. But that structure was demolished in 2002 to make way for a much more modern station that is in keeping with our Study Tour's theme. The building's glass exterior incorporates a grid of photovoltaic solar panels to increase energy efficiency. It was also designed to include a platform for a planned Maglev train (see Day Five of this blog) between Hamburg and Berlin...before that project was discontinued in 2003.
The Reichstag seemed like an ideal spot for a standup and a tease which refer to the politics of the Energiewende. Since Mother Nature was cooperating, I was able to find the right angle for good sunlight, and the enormous open space in front left plenty of possibilities to have a reasonable amount of privacy and not worry about people getting into the shot. My spot also gave a nice side view of the adjacent Chancellery, connected to the Reichstag through underground hallways. We hadn't seen much of the Chancellery's exterior, arriving on a dark afternoon a few days before, with our bus pulling right up to the entrance.
For some reason, I was having a lot of trouble with the phrase "Chancellor Angela Merkel", and it took me 16 (!) takes to get it right. But eventually I got it all on camera...and thus ends the work portion of this trip.
From there, a little bit of wandering around the Weihnachtsmarkt, and eventually I found myself at Mommsen-Eck for dinner. Once more I had the problem of not being a fan of sauerkraut, beets, cabbage or horseradish...which was in just about all the main courses. I somewhat sheepishly ordered a cheeseburger--which was enormous and tasty--before heading back to the Hotel Astrid for the night. After making sure I had two alarms set for 6:00 AM, it was time to hit the hay for once last night in Berlin.
* The part in a story where the reporter appears on scene--not necessarily standing up, but that's still what it's called.