thedonproject
Europe. Brussels, trains, and Berlin.
Personal
Published 07-23-2009 on my old wordpress blog.

This is the first night I have slept the whole night. I think I was tired. Maybe it was the tear gas. Maybe it was the nice room.

I woke up later than I intended, but pretty rested. Nerdy American guy and guy from I don’t know where were already up and about at the bright and early hour of 9:00 AM, but the Canadians are likely still asleep. As I was sitting in the common room, eating my raisiny sugary bread from France, it started to rain again. I got out my rain stuff and checked out of my swanky hostel.

I was thinking this morning, so I just walked to the Metro station and paid €1,70 to get a subway ride to the train station. I like the Brussels Metro very much. It would have been ridiculously easy to ride for free, I think. I arrived at the train station and asked some folks how to get a reservation. I went to the Travel Centre and said “I want to go to Berlin today.” The man said, “the train leaves at 12:18. First class is the same price as second class, so we’ll get you those seats. Reservations will cost you €8.”

My eurail pass is finally starting to pay off! I traveled to Berlin for $12. In first class, no less! In my wait time before the train, I got some cheap picnic lunch for the 7 hour trip and used 4 more MB of my data roaming (why can’t I turn off image, Apple!?!?) to get myself a single room for two nights in a hostel in Berlin. Things are looking to be swanky for some time!

The ride to Köln (Cologne) was nice. I talked with my seat mate, who was from Denmark, about a lot of stuff like travel and politics. The countryside whizzed by at up to 244 km/hr (roughly 150 mph) and I saw a lot of farms an cool graffiti. My phone company sent me a text when it changed providers, signifying I had arrived in Germany. Yay!

I got out at Köln and found my connecting train without too much difficulty. It’s a little less classy than the first one (no plug in, for example), but I got a single seat facing backwards which is cool. Okay, it’s not that, cool, but… Adventure! And a hot stewardess just gave me free chocolate and spoke to me in a language I don’t understand, so that’s cool, I guess.

I arrived in Berlin at about 19:08 and started walking to my hostel. iPhone said 3.3 KM. I said, “well, I’ve been sitting on trains all day, trudging through Berlin with my heavy pack on sounds like good exercise.” So I walked and saw some things and learned a little about Berliners by observation. Eventually, I came to 20 Kurstrasse and walked into my hostel, enjoying the rest of my day in style. Ha ha a ha ha! Turns out there are two Kurstrasses and they are ten effing miles apart!

I’m going to try to think positively about the last four hours, but today I’m glad to be doing this thing solo because I would have just stressed my imaginary travel partner out with my endless stream of epithets and self-loathing. Them again, a travel partner might have kept my anger in check… At any rate, I know I wanted adventure, but I wanted it to be adventures like tear gas and meeting lots of people, not doing a 10 K wearing a 20 pound backpack and a shoulder bag. At any rate, I attempted to use public transit but it was all in German and the lines I needed to take were all undergoing construction and rerouted and making me angry so I walked all the way back to the train station, trying to do so as quickly as possible so that someone would be there to check me in. Of course, the phone number I had did not work. Sometimes my life is a comedy. The kind that makes me want to cry a little bit. But I held it together and asked the info lady how to get to Spandau, way the hell out of town. Turns out there was a direct train straight from the station I arrived at. And it is free for eurail pass holders. I could have saved myself 6.6 KM of walking if I had just been some sort of psychic super genius. Or if I had looked up the hotel name instead of relying on the address. But that’s in the past. I’m here to learn how to let go, right? How to escape?

I made it to Spandau Station and used more expensive data to find out how to get from the station to the hostel. 2.2 more kilometers of walking and my bruised shoulders an blistered feet made it to the destination. To find that no one was there. However, the number on the door actually worked!

A surly German speaking guy answered and berated me for being about two hours late. I considered telling him to suck my schwanstucker and giving up my 5€ deposit. However that would mean I’d have to walk back to that weird looking hotel/spa/gym thing I saw on the way in and pay more for a room.

He sent down a guy that told me the price left to pay was 50€. I let him know it was really 45€, and that I only had 30€ in cash. He let me know that he didn’t know how to work the credit card machine and that a bank was 200 meters down the road. I walked down there to find the ATMs all behind locked doors. I walked back and told my friend that I could just cancel the second day and GTFO tomorrow. He called up his boss and they spoke in Russian and got my card to work. So I’m here for two days. It’s about what I expected. A bed in a room. The Wi-fi is unreachable in my room. The bathroom and shower is down the hall. There doesn’t appear to be a common room. Everything is dark. It’s kind of like the place is being remodeled. All of this wouldn’t be so bad if it was at the other address, the center of Berlin, as advertised. Instead, I’ll have to take a bus and a train to go walk around town tomorrow. I don’t even have a tourist map or anything.

Okay, enough complaining. I’m in GERMANY! This might be blasphemy, but I think the Berlin ladies are hotter than the Paris ladies. Tomorrow, I’m going to walk around and see some sights if I can move my legs. As for right now, I’m turning off my german TV and going to sleep.

Keywords: berlin, brussels, europe, trains, travel
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