I had a last look around Alexanderplatz, then descended into the station to look for a train to the airport. Utterly confused by the many transport options available, I asked at the information desk, and at the touch of a button was given a printout detailing exactly which trains, platforms, stations and times I required.
Unfortunately, by the time I made it on to the Airport Express, my two-hour travel ticket had expired. The conductor listened to my attempts at an explanation before waving it away, leaving me to stew in embarrassment, relief and guilt for the rest of my journey.
At Schönefeld, I took advantage of one of the lounge passes issued with my smilemore account. On the way out, at Stansted, this had been fine, and I was welcomed with open arms. In the Hugo Junkers Lounge, however, the woman on the desk frowned at my digital pass, asked to see my boarding-card, and pronounced "Die Lounge ist nicht für Ryanair Passagiere!
I was all "That's not what this LOUNGE PASS says", only of course more politely, and she made a phone call, and at length I was admitted. My coffee and cake were hard-won that time.
As usual, I had a fistful of postcards and had failed to find a postbox. I asked the lounge lady, without much hope, and sure enough she told me in sucks-to-be-you tones that, unfortunately, the postbox was before
I tried a bored-looking duty free salesman in a kilt, who indicated that he would post my cards for me, taking them in a dramatically secretive manner that gave the transaction a clandestine feel. So my last impression of Germany was my usual one of kindness, generosity and a sense of humour (although I don't think any cards have actually arrived yet, hmm).
Much queueing and sitting around at the gate, a flight with a lucky window seat right at the back at the plane, and I was disgorged into Stansted soon after 3pm. I took the bus to the long stay car park, put on all my cold damp bike gear that had been sitting in the top box for three days, sneaked round the exit barrier, and was home soon after 5.
I packed a lot into what was really only two full days and two extra bits, but there remains much still to do (going up the TV tower! The DDR museum!), and I hope I can return before too long. Some more photos on Flickr.
Arakin had negotiated a late start at his workplace, so there was time for a rematch with the pastry shop next door and a visit to the nearby supermarket (so I could buy Haribo for the office) before we said goodbye.