Berlin, Berlin, wir faren nach Berlin! The night before my travel, insomnia attacked me, the case I always experience when I get excited about my trip. Berlin here I come!
I was so glad that I’ve got a ‘no-train changing’ ticket and that was according to the travel agent, who explained my itinerary. She clearly said that the train I was going to take would go straight to Berlin Hauptbahnhof- the Main Station. That’s great! I could sleep the entire trip. Alrighty! I got an itinerary of fuss instead. And the adventure comes knocking. (Verbs in present tense, as I reminisce these events.)
1) Finding Seat # 32
Get on the train called “ICE.” Seat number 32, to the left or to the right? Let’s try left. The compartment looks like the one for VIPs. But wait, I can’t find seat 32. There are seats from 30 to 38, where’s 32? Never mind, I’ll just seat here, #33. The ticket inspector approaches me and asks for my ticket. I show it to him then he says ‘This is a special conference compartment, seat 32 is not here, it’s to the right’. OK. No problemo senior!
2) Seat # 32 screams out, “Over here!”
Look to the right, to the left, my head reads 21-23, 22-24, 26-28, 31-33, 35-37. Damn, where are you 32? Out of the blue I hear a lady’s squawk ‘Oh My God!’. ‘Oooops, My God too! I’m soooo SORRY. I didn’t see that.’ My bulky handbag accidentally spilled a full jug of coffee all over a woman’s leather handbag and onto her papers. Awful! I use all the tissue papers I have with me to wipe the spilt coffee off her stuff. I apologize again after cleaning the mess. When I continue my seat number quest, there it is- 32! To the woman who got victimized by my clumsiness: ‘I’m sorry for the trouble I’ve caused and I’m sorry to tell you that this is supposed to be my seat.’ She transfers to another seat immediately with a smile. And I set myself down on the coffee- stained seat. 32 and dirty too, I finally found you!
3) ICE orders you to CHILL!
We, the passengers, normally take our jackets or coats off when on the train. But in this ICEy moment, the coat I wear is not enough to keep me warm. Is this why they named the train ICE? I want to go to the information table to speak up on behalf of the passengers but I just sleep it off.
4) ICE Edge 2
The train conductor is announcing something about changing lane? Train? Lane? Insane? What? He speaks both in German and English, but I can’t understand every word he slurs. I have to resort to the translation of people who understand and speak German. I get it- we all have to transfer to another train, not change lane. Which train? Another ICE train. Oh, so that would be the ICE Edge 2. Feels great being on this train, unlike the first one, this is comfortably warm. Sleep again.
5) Sail away, Sail away, Sail away!
Just when I am about to drool while asleep, I sense that my train-mates are getting off the train. I ask the lady with a fur coat, what’s going on? She replies, “We’re sailing away. We have to leave the train and go up to the ship.” Oh, I see. OK. When you find yourself lost in the entire announcement, then you fall asleep because you’re exhausted, the next thing you know, you’re on board- cruising! Isn’t that cool? So I follow the lead of the Russian woman who patiently instructs me what to do and when to go back to the train.
Well, aside from rail-trekking, cruising made the trip even more worthwhile.
After 45 minutes, we head back to the train. There, I finally get the chance to nap.
Hear ye, hear ye! Announcing my arrival at exactly 3pm, the busy Berlin Hauptbahnhof welcomes me with the ‘on the go’ atmosphere.
Since I had a package ticket- ticket & hotel, I didn’t have to think about where to stay. But getting there was the fuss. I always dislike maps so I didn’t take one with me. I just use my charm asking people for directions (but the charm doesn’t work all the time). It should only take five minutes to get to the hotel from the station. Relying on the different directions that people pointed- go that way- then this way and that way-, it took me an hour to locate the hotel.
After checking in, I was handed a key that looked like a man’s genital. Ooops, is it just my wild imagination? I don’t mean to be perverted but it really did look like it. I couldn’t wait to see my room so I took the elevator and finally unlocked my abode. Welcome to Le Château Chez Moi! It was roomy indeed with ceiling height up to 3.80 meters. First impression didn’t last though, my first night here was sleepless due to the thumping noise in the other room. I tossed and turned, I even had to cover my head with pillows. Maybe it was just a sound of two lovers passionately savouring their night together. But the noise went on the whole night. What the heck is that sound. ‘I’m giving this hotel a nasty assessment’ I murmured. They claim that their rooms are sound-proof? I don’t think so.
The next day after having my lovely breakfast, I went straight to the reception lobby, talked to the receptionist and expressed my discontent about the room. “Okay then, here’s the key to your new room.”- “Thank you!” And I’ve finally got a real sound-proof room. Such sound of silence gently cradled me to sleep after a long day of stroll.
There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin!
-Kennedy, John F(itzgerald)