Our hotel couldn't have been better situated. It was right beside the central railway station, so we didn't have far to go after checking out to catch the train to Schönefeld airport in Berlin and make our way back home.
We got to the station with plenty of time to spare. The bar we had our eye on for a beer was closed (again 'for technical reasons') until 1pm, so we stopped off at a really nice café inside a beautifully bright and airy bookshop for soup and a bagel before going back to the bar. A grumpy barman served us our beer and we sat outside his bar in the general concourse (Germany don't seem to care as much as we do about enforcing a smoking ban, anywhere other than public spaces) before going to the train platform. Once again the weather forecast proved wrong, and what was supposed to be cloudy turned into another sunny day, a change which we could see because of these sunbeams reaching into the building.
Our train was due to leave at 2:15pm. We waited and waited but there was no sign of the train. There had been no warning of a delay when we entered the platform, but when we checked back at 2:30 a delay of 30 minutes was showing on the departure board along with a message which we couldn't understand about a change in the carriage layout. The station officials were rude and unhelpful when we went to get some information and the situation did nothing to reinforce the great myth about German efficiency. The train finally drew into the platform and left more than 40 minutes late.
We had carefully planned our itinerary online back in January and now faced an on-the-fly rearrangement of our connecting travel from Berlin Südkreuz to the airport at Schönefeld. Things were going to be much tighter than we'd planned, and got even tighter when the train we ended up getting turned out to be a slow one which called at every stop between Südkreuz and Schönefeld. When we finally got to the airport we weren't even sure that we'd catch the plane and rushed as fast as we could to the 3rd-world-style Terminal D from which Ryanair flights leave.
That's when we hit the tortoise-paced queue for passport control. The two officers on duty were ridiculously slow processing the queue, which trailed away in both directions along one wall of a narrow passageway. The room we ended up in is little more than a shed, with too few seats for the numbers packed into the space. There was nothing like the normal departure gate with its announcement of boarding. Instead, somebody came upstairs from tarmac level and unceremoniously opened what looked like an emergency exit door. All in all, the experience was really bad. While nobody could lay the blame Ryanair for the appalling conditions in Schönefeld's Terminal D, we promised ourselves that we's travel with Aer Lingus the next time we go to Berlin. We'd also learned that Deutsche Bahn's timetable should not be taken at face value.
After the delays and the discomfort, the flight itself was fine.