My travels to Berlin started in the Morning at Marco’s.
I packed up my stuff, made a few sandwiches, and dashed out the door, coffee in hand, since we were running late.
We got to the train station just in time, only to find that the train was delayed 10 minutes. Since I was originally scheduled to only have 13 minutes to switch trains, it might be tight.
The train pulled up, I thanked Marco and was on my way.
The trip to Frankfurt went smoothly, and since I’d been at the Frankfurt station before, finding the right track was easy. The ICE train to Berlin was also delayed, so I was there with plenty of time.
Once the ICE train arrived, things went less smoothly. Marco had been unable to get me a non-smoking seat, but said that there were sometimes free seats on the train. I got in, found an empty seat, and plopped down for a nap. Shortly however, the conductors booted me, because I had plopped down in a 1st class seat, and my railpass is only for second class.
I travelled down the cars, searching for an empty seat. I had my large luggage in tow, which barely cleared the isles, so there were plenty of annoyed glances as I thumped my way down the train. Three times I thought I had found an empty seat, and three times I was booted. I finally found myself (gagging) in the smoking section, but was unable to locate the seat I actually had a ticket for, due to the odd numbering system (there are three numbers: car, area, seat. I could get car and seat to match, but couldn’t find the right area).
Finally I gave up and did what I had seen many others doing, I sat down in the space between cars. It was noisier and bumpier than in the cars, but there was room, so I sat down on the floor, surrounded by my luggage.
I soon discovered that since this hallway was adjacent to the smoking section, people from the non-smoking section would come here to smoke. So I was essentially in a smoking area, without a seat.
At this point I started to get very depressed. I was too stupid to figure out the seat numbering, and too embarrassed to drag my luggage back down the train to at least sit in a non-smoking piece of floor. The fact that I couldn’t figure out a simple rail system had me nearly in tears, either that, or it was all the smoke I was breathing in. What the hell was I doing, I thought. What the fuck was I doing in Germany, all by myself? How stupid was I?
But lately, I’m not very good at being depressed, so a couple stops later, I tried again, and grabbed an open seat in the non-smoking area. I couldn’t really sleep much, since each new stop was like a game of russian roulette – would someone with this seat number get on the train and make me homeless again? Every time the train stopped, I would crane my neck looking at the people getting on, cursing them as potential seat thieves, and praying to the god of trains to let me keep my seat. My luck held, and I made it the rest of the way to Berlin.
From Berlin, getting to the subway was a quick walk next door, and it was a straight shot to my stop, though it was almost the full length of the line, so took awhile. I got off on my stop and then realized something.
I had somehow forgotten to write down the name or address of my hotel. I had a vague idea in my head of what the name was like and what the street felt like, but nothing concrete. I saw a street that felt correct, and began walking down it.
After a block, I wasn’t so sure anymore, so doubled back and tried another street, one that felt less right but seemed in the realm of possibility. I saw a hotel there, not mine, and went inside to ask for directions. A note at the desk said the clerk would be back in a few minutes, so I waited in the lobby. It was nice and cool.
I remembered I had the cellphone Marco lent me, so I tried calling him. No answer. I tried Alice. Again, no answer. I put the cellphone back in my bag.
The clerk appeared, and I suddenly remembered the name of the hotel and got directions to it. Turns out I had been on the right street before, I just needed to walk one block down.
I got to my hotel, and the lady at the front desk, who it seemed likely was also the owner, was very nice. I checked in, and carried my bags up to my room. As it turns out, 3rd floor meant I had to walk up 3 flights of stairs, since here the ground floor is floor 0.
Once in my room, I set my bags down and flopped on the bed for a moment. Then I got out my laptop… and discovered that I couldn’t connect to the internet. I could connect to a kind of weak access point marked “Hotel2” but I couldn’t get to the web from there. I called the front desk, and the woman related a story of woe, which the long and short of was that the access point in the dining room worked, but not the upstairs one.
So I carried my laptop down to the dining room, the desk lady brought me some sparkling water, and I briefly browsed the web and fired off a few emails.
I went upstairs, intending to go through my guidebooks and plan my day out, but what happened instead was that I passed out in bed, and slept from around 9pm until about 9:30am. Guess I needed it – I’d only slept 3 hours the night before (turns out coffee at midnight is a bad idea) and hadn’t really slept at all on the train.