Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting there


If you follow me on instagram or on facebook you might know already that getting to Berlin was less than straight forward.

Last time I went to Berlin via train. It went as follows. Got on the train in Bern. It left promptly at 9:03 (I love Switzerland) and I stepped off the train at 6:58 in Berlin. Roughly 8 hours later. And it should have gone much the same this time around.

Should have.

Yeah, it didn't.

When the train left the hauptbahnhof (yup all one word) in Bern promptly I pulled out my lap top and wrote for the hour it took to get to Basel. We pulled into Basel and I triumphantly sent to a text to John that I had met my word in the day in an hour!! Anything else was going to be gravy! Very wordy adverby gravy.

We sat in Basel for a while. Which happens because this is where they switch train crews from SBB employees to Deutsches Bahn employees and they check the food stuffs etc. We sat a little longer than usual but no biggie! I had not a care in the world. I had a reserve seat in first class with a table. Not a care was had. The train left and off to our next stop, Basel Bad. That would be about 6 minutes from Basel and in Germany. Awesome I was in the Vaterland and they were speaking echte deutsch!

The train stopped in Basel Bad. And we waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. An announcement came that we were delayed and when they had more information they would let us know. I called my mom. I was still hitting a Swiss tower with my cell phone so yay no roaming. I informed her I was running late and that when I knew more I would call.

5 minutes later we're all told there has been a medical emergency on a train ahead of us. We are so delayed 40 minutes at this point. They're cancelling the train and we should all head to the information desk to figure out what's going to happen next.

Crap.

I get off the train. Try to call my mom back. No answering. Yeah I know I spoke to her like 5 minutes previous but my mom has this thing where she turns off her phone when people need to get in touch with her. So I tried Johnathan. No answer. Called my dad. Hallelu! He answers. I explain the situation. He says go to information but they may just tell me to get on a train to Frankfurt and then transfer when I get there. We discuss the fact that really this is annoying but not a huge deal. I point out I haven't even cried about it. And honestly, I'm making out way better than the person having the medical emergency on the train ahead of mine.

I wander down to information and stand in line with everyone else that was on my train. I finally get to the front and speak to one of the two people working. Honestly they were getting through people with an efficiency that even the Swiss would be impressed with.

I should stop for a moment and tell you something. I speak fluent German. I have all my life. I have been completely bilingual since I could speak. In moments such as these I speak English only. Sometimes people are more sympathetic and sometimes its because I don't want any information lost in translation in my brain. I told they guy, "I NEED to get to Berlin TODAY! Please tell me that will happen." He says yes. I ask him if my first class ticket is still good. He says yes. I ask him if I still have a reserved seat. He says no.

Crap!

But he informs me I can get my money back from the SBB on my reserved seat. Wunderbar! He writes on the back of my ticket, stamps it and tells me I can either take the train to Frankfurt that is about to leave or wait for the next direct train to Berlin.

I call my dad and tell him the situation. I tell him I'm not entirely sure what I'll do but I will let him know when I know. I ask a DB employee who is on the platform that has a train sitting there. In English I ask her if this will get me to Berlin. She says, "it's going to Frankfurt, you'll transfer there. Get on we're about to leave we're already delayed enough."

So I get on. And off I go again in the direction of Berlin. Excellent.

Okay not so excellent. No seats in first class. So I am stuck sitting on my zuca bag which is actually designed to be sat on. I'm sitting in the corridor between first class and the dining car. I text John about the situation. The DB staff checks my ticket and then says she will try to find me a seat but it's really really crowded. People are standing every where. She tries and she can't. As a "I'm so sorry" she hands me a handful of mini packages of my favourite brand of gummy bears. Little moment of awesome.

So there I sat on my bag for 2.5 hours on route to Frankfurt. Note picture at the top. On a train running 40 minutes late. John finally called. I told him I had no sympathy for the fact that his 2 hour meeting turned into a 4 hour meeting. I tell him I need him to find trains leaving for Berlin from Frankfurt around 3. Direct preferred and text me the information because at this point I'm roaming. I also ask him to email my dad the same information.

Once in Frankfurt I found the platform I was suppose to be on and the minute I could get on the train I found the first available seat with a table and threw my bags on it. Then I asked the rather put together young man sitting across from me who happened to be reading Hemmingway if that seat was free. Yes, yes it was.

AWESOME!!!!

So I sat and I wrote and stared out the window. And smiled as we passed Autostadt in Wolfsburg and I thought of the first time I ever went to Berlin almost 10 years ago. Now I was on my way back not for the second time but the third.

I got to Berlin 2 hours later than I should have and my dad met me on the platform with a tiny bottle of alcohol. Which I guzzled before we board the train to their place in a way I'm not entirely proud of but was understood by my well traveled father after the kind of day I had.

And that my friends is how I got to Berlin. Tomorrow we'll talk about 10 things I did in Berlin for our Tuesday 10.

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1 comment:

  1. Oh my! It sounds like you really did have a rough travel, though what a relief that Swiss are so efficient and time-oriented. No wasting of your precious time! Last time my husband and I took a bus to Panama, the border took about 2 hours just to get our bus passengers through the Visas line. I'm pretty envious of Euro travel, considering the waits I've seen here in Latin America.

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