mercredi, août 06, 2008

International Finance, Plastic Bottle Deposits, and Die BonVoyageNacht

My daytime activities were actually rather productive, but pretty unexciting. A bunch of phone calls to my banks in the US, a flurry of email responses, and an attempt to figure out the best way to transfer money from my American bank accounts to my French one. At first I was going to do what I did last time and transfer money between my US Paypal account and my French Paypal account, and then deposit the money from the French Paypal account to my account at LCL. However, Paypal is now charging fees for cross-border transfers, such that moving 1000€ would cost me a bit more than 30€ in fees. So I’ve tried setting up a Wire Transfer directly from my US account at Chase to my French account at LCL. There are still fees, but at least the fees are fixed, such that any amount of money costs $40US from Chase, and 16.50€ from LCL for the transfer. So I just have to transfer large amounts all at once to make it worth my while. Still, it’s a pain in the ass.

I also went out for an afternoon adventure, trying to return a bunch of plastic bottles so that I could get the bottle deposit back. A bunch of supermarkets have machines that take the bottles, but it’s not that simple. You see, there are some bottles that are thin plastic that will be melted down and re-shaped, and those you can stick into machines that will crush them and then give you back the deposit right away. But there are many plastic bottles that are mehrwegflasche (many-ways-bottle), which are made of sturdier plastic and are just washed and sanitized before being reused, which uses less energy. Anyway, these mehrwegflaschen have to be taken back by vendors and returned in the crates in which the were initially received; this means that stores will only take back bottles of products that they actually sell. You can see how this might get complicated. You can’t just wander over to the nearest corner store and say “Hey, here’s a bunch of plastic bottles, please give me my money back.” Instead, you have to remember where you bought each bottle and then go back to that store, OR you have to wander around your neighborhood and stop at each store, asking, “Do you take these bottles? No? How about these ones?” And, just to add to the fun, store owners will sometimes say, “Sorry, I don’t have any more crates,” which I take to mean, “I’m sick of taking back bottles, dammit.”

Anyway, that was my day. Then came night.

Step One: Kantine Berghain

Fantômette’s roommate was leaving tomorrow afternoon, so we had made plans to go out tonight and see him off. The plan was to head over to the Kantine Berghain (see my description from a previous visit here) to have dinner and drinks and then hang around till the end of the evening.

This was perfect except for two complicating matters:

  • The kitchen closed just after we sat down (23h00)
  • The outdoor patio (which is the primary reason for being there) closed at midnight and then we had to go into the Kantine and stand around in the club.

When we discovered that the kitchen had just closed, we managed to get a round of free shots from the server as an apology, but she wouldn’t take any more food orders from us. So we took turns going to the imbisses near Ostbahnhof and had ourselves some delicious greasy Turkish food. OK, so the dinner plans were a wash, but at least we found something to eat and now we can lounge around in the biergarten.

Then we found out that they were kicking us out of the patio and into the club at midnight. This was pretty much exactly what we didn’t want to do tonight. No crazy clubbing for us tonight, we just wanted to hang around outdoors, drink beers, smoke (not necessarily tobacco) and see our friend off.

After standing around inside the club miserably for a few minutes, we decided to move somewhere else.

Step Two: Club der Visionäre

We decided to hit Club der Visionäre, since we were guaranteed to have techno of some sort playing and the outdoor patio floating on the canal is always pleasant. For reasons that are completely foreign to me, we decided to walk all the way there rather than take a cab. It was a good 30 minutes at least on foot, but we got there.

CdV was exactly what we needed and we ended up spending the rest of the night there. We were surprised to find Sammy Dee, star of the Perlon label doing a ping-pong set with a female DJ that none of us could identify. After hanging out on the patio for a long while drinking beers and chatting, we migrated into the tiny dance space indoors and shuffled along to the music for a while, happily dancing until the wee hours of the night. I finally decided to head home around 4h00, having decided that that was enough of a night for Wednesday. The last time that I started partying hard on a Wednesday, I came down with a killer cold by Sunday…

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