Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel
We’re home! We arrived in Vancouver late Monday night (Sept. 4) and Neil’s parents picked us up at the airport. By the time we cleared customs, got our luggage, reported the tears in Ingrid’s luggage and got home, it was after midnight. We were tired and wired at the same time. Neil was able to get to sleep a little earlier than Ingrid; Ingrid was wide awake until 3:15 am, so she unpacked, organized things, put things away and finally went to bed. Today is Friday, and we’re almost back on Vancouver time, though we still don’t have our internal clocks synched.
Now, back to our adventures!
Aug. 26, Day 18
August 26 we traveled to Berlin. We took a train to from Ansbach to Nürnburg, and then Nürnburg to Berlin. On the train to Nürnberg we met a very nice businessman whose name was Peter who explained what the various digital signs above the seats meant, which we were quite confused about. Some signs meant that passengers had booked those seats from and to certain stops, others meant the seats were for disabled people, some were for frequent travelers with a special card, etc. Then he proceeded to point out interesting landmarks along the way. Over here a castle dating from such and such, over there a church dating from such and such. He was very nice. He went on to tell us that we would be winding our way up a mountain path, and during that climb we would be entering the former East Germany, and we would still be able to see a difference. And it was true. The buildings were more run down, there was a lot more “tagging” and graphiti, and gardens and lawns were unkempt. It was also very cool to see the rest of the train from the window as we snaked our way up the mountain path.
After we cleared the mountain pass, the train was able to pick up speed.
As we were waiting for the plane in München, there was a commercial for the Deutsche Bahn, Rail Germany, playing on a tv monitor, and they advertised the train barrelling along at speeds up to 300 km/h! Perhaps we went that fast and missed it… bummer.
When we arrived in Berlin, it was quite late. As we said earlier, the Berlin Hauptbahnhof is huge, but we didn’t have any trouble finding an info centre. They were extremely helpful, and we booked a room in a pension for 3 nights. We found out how to get there by bus, but decided to walk instead. The walk was great! We were a little apprehensive walking in a strange city, not knowing really where we were and what to expect, but the guy at the info centre said it was safe, and it really was. It’s gotta be safe when couples are walking with their baby strollers at night. We heard music some distance from the train station, so we stopped to check it out. There was a concert happening. Neil saw immediately that there were lots of moving lights. We wondered who was playing and lingered for awhile, then decided to continue on our way to the pension.
So we walked and walked, past the Victory column through the Tiergarten. We walked down tree lined allés, along cobbled roads, past roundabouts and then we heard more music in the distance. Cars rushed past us and we walked nearer and nearer to the music. There was an event happening, and a major street had been closed off to traffic and pedestrians were ambling by, walking towards tents and food stands. In the distance something was happening, but we couldn’t really make out what it was. I stopped and asked a police officer who explained that it was a skate board and mountain bike demonstration/festival weekend. So for the whole weekend there was a festival for skaters and bikers in the Tiergarten! Cool! Welcome to Berlin!
And we kept walking. We came across another event outside an expensive hotel. There were Martha Stewart-esque paper bags with sand and candles lining the sidewalk, so I had to stop and try to take some “artsy” pictures! (Neil is a very patient man, by the way…)
And we kept walking. We walked past cafés and lovers kissing. We walked past monuments and old buildings. We walked past new buildings and construction zones. Our wheeled suitcase made a dull rattle across the cobbled stones, and our feet kept time to our own rhythm. Suddenly the sky opened up and it started to rain “cats and dogs”! We ran under the cover of a restaurant’s awning, put on our jackets and kept walking. No sooner had it started raining than it stopped. A common occurrence in Berlin, we were to discover.
After almost 1 ½ hours of walking, we reached the pension. By this time we were quite tired and looking forward to crawling into bed. The room was clean and comfortable, breakfast served until 10am every morning, and so we tucked in for our first night in Berlin, looking forward in anticipation to the next day’s adventures.