I got to the train station around 6:20 am, my train to Berlin was not yet listed on the board. I went to get a croissant from a shop open at the station, I sat in the shop and read my Kindle, planning what I would do in Berlin. I went out to check the board to see which track the train for Berlin would depart from, I found it & went up and waited. The train arrived on time, I asked the conductor which car my ticket was for, I have gotten in the wrong car before, it is easier to ask the conductor, instead of finding out later.
The German train had one first class car, divided into sections which seated 6 passengers. I found my seat among a group of 4 Germans who appeared to be close friends, the rest of the compartments were either empty or had one person, I decided to move compartments. The group of Germans I was initially seated with were nice, but it was early, I wanted my own compartment to sleep. My compartment began to fill up as the train made more and more stops on its way to Berlin.
The train ride was uneventful, I talked to an older German couple who boarded the train in the middle of the trip to Berlin. There was a language barrier but we were able to communicate, they told me about their daughter who has lived in Berlin for 20 years, the husband told me when we entered what was once East Germany. He emphasized it has been over twenty years since Germany reunified. I told the Germans about my trip, where I planned to go, the husband said I am a strong, courageous woman traveling all these places alone. He also advised me to be careful in Budapest, Hungary, there is racial discrimination against people who look like me, my color, the German man said. This is a rough interpretation, there was a language barrier, but we were able to communicate.
|Me on Train to Berlin|
|Me at Berlin's Central Train Station|
I got on the bus to my hostel, I had no problems finding it, I followed a couple of backpackers who I knew were headed there, we got off at the same bus stop. The hostel is nice, I would say the nicest hostel I have stayed in yet, it is almost on the level of a hotel. I checked into my room, none of my roommates had arrived, last time I checked I still did not have anyone in my room, will I get a private room for the price of a dorm tonight, we will see.
I went down to the lobby to use the WIFI, then an American I met in Amsterdam walked in, saw me and we decided to go get German sausages for lunch. Always nice to see a familiar face in a new country, someone to get lost with, a temporary travel companion. I don't mind exploring alone either, Berlin is a huge city, so nice to have others to read the map and find destinations with.
We got a recommendation from the hostel staff for a place to get good sausages and set out to find the place, we were both starving after our six our journeys to Berlin from Amsterdam. The sausage place was located at a subway station, there was a crowd, we knew we had found the right place. I ordered the curry sausages with fries, I got the large menu for 5.40 Euros, it ended up being too much sausage for me, they were delicious but I did not eat them all.
|German sausage stand recommended by Hostel Staff|
When we neared the location of the Berlin wall, we noticed people looking at exhibits, there were signs in German without any English translation. There was an enclosed area with three bells, we never figured out what these were were, there was no English translation. We finally found the area where the Berlin Wall once stood, it is always powerful for me to see these historic places in person, my reaction, wow, this used to be East and West Germany, people died trying to escape the East, families were divided by the Berlin Wall.
We walked further, there were portions of the wall left still standing, there was a watchtower, across the street was a museum. We went to the park, I looked at the memorial with pictures of those who died trying to escape East Germany, people had left candles and other mementos. I stood where the wall dividing East and West Berlin had been, one foot in the East and one foot in the West, not long ago the Berlin wall stood there.
We headed back to the hostel after visiting area where the Berlin Wall stood. I spent the evening hanging out in the lobby using the WIFI & later moved up to the bar area to hang out. Tomorrow, a full day of exploring Berlin.
|Me crossing from East to West Berlin Where the Berlin Wall once Stood|
Berlin Day 1 Photo Album: