I’m sitting on a train I am moderately convinced is heading towards Berlin. I think the uncertainty of getting on a train in another country where they don’t speak English makes the experience just a bit more exciting. I could just imagine getting off the train only to realize we somehow managed to end up in western Canada. In case you aren’t familiar with the events of my life, I’m in the middle of a ten day vacation trip in Germany with my longtime friend Scott.
Growing up in Colorado I have developed a resistance to using public transportation. One thing I’ve been noticing is that trains in Germany can go really fast. In addition to numerous messages in German, the electronic message board at the front of the passenger car would occasionally say how fast the train was moving. During the trip the speed of the train would reach 250 kilometers an hour. To put that into perspective for anyone not familiar with the metric system, that speed is 108 times faster than any form of public transportation moves in the state of Colorado.
After watching the German country side for an hour or so I eventually dozed off. I’m not exactly sure how my brain works, but my overactive imagination doesn’t seem to sleep when the rest of my body is recharging itself. I started dreaming about my apartment back in Boulder. I suppose I need to preface this by saying I’m not the best at keeping my apartment as clean as I possibly could. In my shower I have a circle of rust from a shaving cream can that has been there for, well, a lot longer than I really want to admit. It’s there, and I know it’s there, and it knows I know, but it doesn’t smell funny or seem to be growing, so I generally don’t spend much time worrying about it or attempting to get rid of it. But in my dream, the ring of rust penetrated all the way through the material of the tub and a perfect circle fell through to the floor as I was shampooing my hair. Mental note to self-clean shower upon returning to apartment.
Our hotel room, which Scott picked out, is quite clean and spacious. And it is right across the street from the “Erotik Museum.”
We started the day traveling to the east side of Berlin. Until 1989 this section of the city was controlled by Communist forces where the general population was forced to wear funny hats and dance the mamushka every night. We took the subway to one of the main squares in East Berlin to get a better idea of what life would have been like under such an oppressive regime. As we walked up the subway stairs one of the first things I saw was a man wearing brightly colored clothes, a large rainbow umbrella, and a strange mechanical contraption around his torso. Upon closer inspection, the equipment was a completely self-contained grill designed for cooking sausages. Say what you want about communism, but they are light years ahead of us in personal hot dog vending devices.
Despite several navigational errors on the local subway system, we are still in Berlin. Due to a massive misunderstanding in the scale of our map, we decided to walk the entire length of a park located in the center of the city. On the map the park was roughly the width of my thumb. In reality it is much, much bigger. By the time we got to the exact middle of the park we realized the magnitude of our miscalculation. Of course by then we didn’t have any choice but to walk the rest of the way out of the park.
After seeing a few more sights in the morning, we headed back to the station to catch the train back to Stuttgart. I’m not sure why, but the train stations in Germany have a noticeable lack of seats. I guess they decided the trains are so punctual that there isn’t any need to wait for a train-it’s just there when they say it is. Scott and I were sitting on the ground waiting for the train to arrive when what looked like a homeless man started talking to us in German. Being that I can’t even pretend to speak German, I just kind of nodded. When he realized I didn’t know German he got all annoyed and started saying things I can’t repeat here. Not because they were profane and inappropriate, but because we was yelling at me in German which we have already established is not my language of choice for optimal communication. After a few minutes he got bored and walked away, possibly to yell at someone else who doesn’t speak his language.
These are the highlights from Berlin. Stay tuned next week for the last part of my vacation involving a road trip to the countries of Austria, Switzerland, and, most important, Liechtenstein.