Log in

No account? Create an account
10 September 2009 @ 10:21 am
On the acquisition of Power in Hamburg  
Disaster pretty much struck as soon as I unpacked in the hotel room and fetched out the handy adaptor plug for the Mac which B had given me as I ran out the door. Two prongs: check, two round prongs... err... no. I could get wireless internet from the hotel room so I spent an hour or so letting people know I had a power crisis and generally catching up on anything that looked urgent. Then, as the power dropped below 60%, I regretfully closed the laptop down on the grounds that I had a talk to give the next day and no real idea what the arrangements might be, so I wanted to leave the option of using the laptop open. A rather dull evening followed (I'd not even packed a book because I had a list of things I wanted to do on the computer though I had packed some papers that needed refereeing ) enlivened at about 8pm when I at least found a pen at the bottom of my back pack.

Wednesday morning I was up early. I registered for the conference and asked if there was anywhere nearby that I could get a power adaptor. After some discussion they agreed that the Haupbahnhof was the place.

All aboard the mystery S-bahn* and across the Alster. Having austeiged rechts (though also having considered attempting to austeige links just to see what would happen) I wandered around the Haupbahnhof for a bit investigating chemist and photography shops in the hopes of finding a power adaptor and giving the place marks for posters advertising Vikings. Eventually I asked in Tourist Information and was pleasantly surprised to be directed straight to a nearby Department Store.

Of course this is Germany so the store wasn't open until 10am, the first conference session started at 10.30 and I was giving a talk so I didn't really feel wandering round a department store at 10 trying to find a power adaptor was wise. Back across the Alster with a vague plan to return at lunchtime. No one arond at conference venue. Check Program. First session starts at 11.30am. Back across the Alster. Brief internal debate about ticketing - no one has checked or marked my ticket for the earlier journey therefore could I reuse it and fall back on stupid foreigner if caught out. In the end I decide that there is no useful purpose for small euro coins except to go into S-bahn ticketing machines - their only alternative is to live in B's sock drawer. Besides, try as I might, I couldn't construct a reason it was the S-bahn's fault I kept having to travel back and forth across the Alster.

The Saturn department store, it transpires, is an electrical department store complete with internal Apple store. Yay! Unfortunately the Apple store only sells complete power adaptors for Mac laptops (rather than just the spare clip on plug bit I was looking for) at 80 euro a pop. Not so Yay! So instead I ventured upstairs and wandered around aimlessly a bit, before asking some shop assistants who directed me to the power adaptor section in impeccable English. This is probably just as well considering my limited German does not run to the word "power adaptor". I used to embark on these foreign trips armed with a Rough Guide, a Dictionary and a Phrase Book but I find I get increasingly blase about it - to the extent of pitching up in Lisbon two years ago and only realising then that I had absolutely no grasp of Portguese at all and that is considerably more of a handicap than only speaking a little bit of German. Fortunately on that occasion I rapidly located a handy PhD student who had brought a dictionary and phrase book with her and so together we managed to successfully reach the hotel and, you know, actually thank people en route.

Having successfully procured power at the cost of 13 euro for the adaptor and about 5 euro in train tickets, I returned to the conference with plenty of time spare to load my talk onto the machine provided. Of course the bulb in the projector promptly over-heated and expired... but that's another story.

*TBH, the only mysterious thing about the S-bahn is what the S stands for.
fredbassettfredbassett on September 10th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC)
LOL! You're a lot braver than me when it comes to foreign travel! I panic at times even in France!
T: 3 Bassetssixgun45lc on September 10th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Just commenting to say I LOVE Fred Bassett comics. :D
fredbassett: fredbassettfredbassett on September 10th, 2009 06:08 pm (UTC)
LOL, so do I!
louisedennislouisedennis on September 11th, 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
TBH, if I hadn't felt a power supply was pretty integral to my life I wouldn't have gone to the effort. But I kept asking myself how hard could it actually be to purchase something and the S-bahn is pretty easy to navigate (plenty of maps and such like).
helflaedhelflaed on September 10th, 2009 09:05 am (UTC)
Strassenbahn (literally street train)
louisedennislouisedennis on September 11th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
Presumably the U-bahn are subway trains? Someone was trying to convince me that S-bahn were "lower level" and U-bahn were "upper level" and since the S-bahn were all street level I had this vision of these flying train lines in the sky with carrying the U-bahn.

The Hamburg skyline rather disabused me of that notion however...
helflaedhelflaed on September 11th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
U Bahn stands for UndergrundBahn- underground train. Other half has informed be that S Bahn does not stand for Strassenbahn, but is the local commuter train. Matters are complicated by the fact that many U Bahn do have overground lines as well.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on September 10th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
I gather Hitler found it difficult, as the city was so stubbornly SPD...

Oh, not that sort of power. Still, I'm sure you'd be good at it...
louisedennislouisedennis on September 11th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Now I have Power in Hamburg... nothing in ze vorld can stop me now!!!

...or maybe not...