Monday, June 8, 2009

in the far cold north

well i did manage to make it from amsterdam to berlin, with just a few difficulties such as missing my train entirely...! unfortunatly the woman at the station did not warn me when directing me to the small local train i had to take to get to the outlying station from which i was to catch the german train to berlin, that on this particular day i would have to transfer to an unknow other train in order to make it to the correct station. and since i didn't know this, and when they told us over the loudspeakers (in dutch, and so crackly i was never sure if they were actually saying anything over the noise of the train) i didn't hear and so when i suddenly became worried when it was getting close to when i was to arrive at my station and not seeing it anywhere, the train reached the end of the line and i confronted the conductor who informed me, near laughing, that no i was in completely the wrong direction and should have transfered and he had said so. i tried to explain that he had said this in dutch and therefor could not expect me to know it, but that did no good. in the end i was forced to throw a tanya harding style fit, look desperate and near weeping to get any practical assistance. he told me i could just cross down and go to the other side and take a train back that would go directly to the station i needed, it was just that it came in thirty minutes and therefor i would completely miss my very expensive german train. some tapping on his fancy handheld device produced the news that there was another train going the exact same route just departing two hours later than the original one i was supposed to catch, though he didn't know how that would work, as i had a reserved seat on the first train, would i have to buy a new ticket? no useful answer to that. so distressed and cold i waited the local trian back in the right direction and made it to the station a mere forty minutes before i was to catch this proposed other train, only to stand in line for an extraordinarily long time, and finaly be informed that i could take this train without purchasing a new ticket as there were like 100 available seats... and so easy as that and the train arrived less than twenty minutes after i sorted my arrangments, i boarded and settled into the very cushy interior (a bank of four seats to myself no less) and doodled and snoozed and generally occupied myself for the intertveining six hours of travel to berlin.
now a word about the berlin public transportation system. or should i say systems. as there is the subway, over fourty lines called U2 or U34 etc, the S Bahn which is like a subway but above ground, the ring bahn which is part of the S Bahn but circling the city center in a clockwise or counter clockwise direction, a series of busses and also trams. this is extraordinary, and amazingly confusing, though thank goodness i had directions from the woman i was set to stay with on exactly which trains, s bahns etc to take and transfer to, if i wanted to make it to her apartment, and it worked out just fine. i think over all, on each inter-european-city-trip i can manage to keep my exceptionally annoying transportation blunders to a one-per-trip maximum. not too bad so once i mess up once i know i am not in danger of doing it again any time soon...hopefully.
so now i am in berlin, for two days and what am i going to do with this time, which is not very long to see a whole city. well my friends i met in amsterdam had just come from berlin and gave me a city map which had the starting point of the neweurope free walking tour and so i figured, why not do that, it is a good way to see a large part of the city with limited time and a knowledgable tour guide with lots of fun facts and answers to random questions, and even a chance of meeting some other people (especially since i was not staying in a hostel i felt the need to at least try to make some friends). which i did. some aussie girls and a big group of new york/new jersey guys. the tour ended up being very informative and interesting although most of the history it was covering was a not charming stuff, all nazi book burnings and and the no mans land at the wall where all attempting crossers were shot on sight. and after the tour ended i joined up with the east coast boys to wander about the city on foot, and we stopped into a communist souvenier shop to avoid the rain and the large grey fur hats looked like they would be so cozy. and i decided to go on a pub crawl cause it was friday night and why not, and it is absolutly mad in berlin, this huge group of gap-year british and aussie kids running around like fools. but entertaining. and not even getting to the club (matrix) until after one and we didn't leave until maybe fiveish. and odd to wander through the u system at such an early hour with the sky so light and the birds singing up a storm. amazing thing. and of coure freezing cold too. and after sleeping away about half the day i spent the later afternoon time wandering around the city some more, went to the berlin wall memorial museum and the church across from it which was demolished to make way for the wall and rebuilt after. and i met up with gesa and we tooled around the shopping district discussing how germans couldn't really get away with wearing cowboy boots without looking extreemly foolish, and ate 'mexican' at a resturaunt called the frida kahlo and packed and crashed early. still tired from such a late night on friday.
and then sunday was back to the traveling. sbahn and a shuttle bus to the airport and then some wandering around the airport to find the correct terminal and then waiting for such a long time for my flight but thank goodness i had a lovely picnic lunch of strawberries and chips (actual ketchup!) and really good grapefruit soda and the flight was so easy, just a quick one hour jump to sweden, looked like we were going to land in someones backyard as the airport was situated in with all the little foresty farmhoused. and after waiting almost half an hour for my luggage to arrive i caught a bus to the train station where my friend beth was there to meet me. and that was amazing, i think i shrieked involintarily on exiting the bus i was just so excited to see someone that i already knew. and so now it is sweden, home of svelt design and modern simplicity and ikea! even more difficult to wrap my head around being in a new country when the jump was so far and so much faster my air than by land, and then leaving so soon. so i will just layer all of my tshirts at once to keep warm and enjoy the fact that it never gets dark here and then sooner than i can wrap my head around, be taking off for another country and city and another new set of adventures!


  1. lol thankyou for being/sharing such fun and travails

  2. awesome, max! I wish I was still there! but reading these, it's almost like I am!

    did the frida have her paintings at the restaurant too?