So Claus and I woke up in the hostel and got ready to go. I was ready first so I packed up all my stuff, then went and sat in the lobby to use the WiFi until he was ready. At 11 he came down and said he was ready to go, so we started back up to the room to get our stuff and check out. However, when he tried to use his key card to get into the hallway it didn’t work, and mine didn’t either. “Claus… when is checkout?” “11 AM.” “It’s 11:02! That’s why our keys don’t work! Why didn’t you tell me? Now we’re going to get late checkout!” I may have overreacted a tiny bit but I was frustrated. I left him behind and booked it down to the desk and explained what happened. The guy recharged our keys, we grabbed our stuff from the room, and checked out without any late charges.
It was odd to me that the hostel allowed us to pay in cash. In fact, I tried to pay with a credit card, and they said they would have to add an extra 2.95 fee or something, so I went ahead and paid in cash. What if we had stolen something or thrown a wildcrazyparty in the room and trashed it? Although now that I think about it, Claus probably had to give his debit card (because he SOMEHOW doesn’t have a credit card) when he reserved the room, so that makes sense. Ahh, the revelations that come from stream-of-consciousness typing! Okay, back to the story…
We stopped to eat on the way to the train station, then took the train into the main Berlin station. However, on the way, I ran into some bad luck (for once!). Now, we had been taking the train A TON in Berlin, and each time the ticket was like, 2.40. I got tired of buying tickets each time when they NEVER got checked, so before we got on the train each time I asked Claus how many stops we were going. Most of the time we were just going one or two stops and then getting off or changing, so whenever that was the case I stopped buying tickets and never had a problem, because we were only on the train for a couple of minutes at a time. As we approached the station for the last time, I considered asking Claus how many stops it was, but then was like, “Eh, it’s gonna be fine, we haven’t seen anyone checking tickets this whole time.” The train was there so Claus hurried up and bought a ticket, and then we jumped on the train. He was standing by the door and I was a few feet away sitting down when I saw some people in hats coming around flashing some sort of card, and everyone was showing them their tickets. CRAP. I tried to show them an old ticket, but they weren’t having it, and made me follow them off the train at the next stop, which just so happened to be the main station in Berlin that we were going to. As I got off Claus tried to steathily hand me his ticket but I dropped it, the officer people saw, and were NOT happy about it, haha. I tried to say that I had lost my ticket, that I didn’t have a form of ID, etc, but again, they weren’t having it. I had to pay 40 euros. Ugh.
Claus and I went to a couple of offices in the train station and tried to get my money back by showing them Claus’ ticket (he waited outside), but it did not work. So, life lesson: in Berlin, I maintain that you DO NOT need to buy a train ticket every time, but be smart about it. If you’re only going a stop or two and then getting off or changing, I wouldn’t buy one. But be aware: stand by the door and keep an eye out for the officer people. If you see them get on, get off and take the next train or even get on the next car. That’s what some people who rode with us back to Cologne did! Also, it would probably work to have one person buy a ticket and then not stand next to each other, so it’s not apparent that you’re together. Then if one of you gets caught you can hand off the ticket like Claus tried to do. (Mom and Dad, please don’t be too disappointed- I considered not telling this story then decided honesty was the best policy!! Live and learn, right?)
We killed time for a few hours waiting for our ride. We were doing the carpooling thing again and our ride was supposed to leave at 2:30, but then we got a call that it wasn’t leaving till 3. I wish it had left earlier because we had pretty much seen everything we wanted to, so we were just wandering around. Claus took a picture of me with my favorite tower, the Fernsehturm:
and we also went and saw the Reichstag again.
We stood outside the train station where we were supposed to meet our ride and it was late, so we started getting worried. It finally showed up and we all got loaded- 8 of us plus the driver again! And since Claus was in the middle last time, I had the middle this time, and the dude next to me smelled TERRIBLE. Seriously, Germany, deodorant and showering are your friends.
The traffic around the train station was really bad so it was almost 4 by the time we actually got on our way. We stopped a few times to go to the bathroom, and then we also stopped in Dusseldorf to drop off a couple of people. We were kinda mad about that, because it took more time, and there were also some bad traffic jams on the Autobahn that we either had to get off to avoid or that we got stuck in. Needless to say, it was taking FOREVER to get back to Berlin. I slept a lot of the way, but the smelly dude next to me smelled so bad that I couldn’t keep my head to the right, only to the left facing Claus! However, we did kind of become friends. He was playing backgammon on his smartphone and I expressed my approval (through sounds and gestures, because he didn’t speak English or French), so then we played a few games together. He beat me the first couple of games, then I won one, then I can’t remember if we played another game or not.
It was I think 11 or 11:30 by the time we got back to the Cologne main station. Yeah, it took like 8 hours when it should have taken only 5! Then we had to run to catch the train to Pulheim, the station by Claus’ house where he left his car. By the time we got back to his house, I think it was midnight or shortly after. Crazy long day! We ate the lasagna that Claus’ mom left out for us (MMM!) and then crashed, because we both had to get up early the next day (plane for me, work for Claus). To add to it, the wireless at Claus’ house wasn’t working so I couldn’t tell anyone I made it back to Cologne okay.
We got up the next morning and I had breakfast with Joseph. My flight was at 9:15 out of Dusseldorf, so Joseph, Lillian, and I left at 7- they generously offered to drive me! Also, as we were leaving Lillian handed me a paper bag full of chocolate and other sweets. And I mean a HUGE bag. I was so surprised and thankful- she told me it was for Halloween!
It should have been about a half hour drive, but Claus failed to mention the Monday morning traffic- it took us two hours to get to the Dusseldorf airport! We pulled in at about 2 minutes to 9. Yeah, and my flight was at 9:15. I thought there was gonna NO WAY that I made it. I said goodbye and thank you to the Schuhs, grabbed my duffel, camera bag, and bag of candy, and sprinted into the airport! I printed my boarding passes at the self-serve station (since I had checked in online the day before), booked it through security, and ran to my gate, which happened to be only a few gates away. As I approached, I saw people standing around and I started to get my hopes up… YES! My plane was delayed 20 minutes to 9:35! That’s right, I arrived at the airport at 9 and got to my gate at 9:10 for a 9:15 flight, and I made it!! Lucky girl. I called Joseph to let him know I made it and he was so happy. He felt terrible that I was going to miss my plane.
I took a flight to Munich, then had a few hour layover until my flight to Nice. While I was waiting, I actually met a nice older American gentleman on his way to Italy. He was from Joliet! So on my Germany trip I met two people from the Chicago area. I was so excited to be going back to my (temporary) home, where they speak a language I understand, the weather is warm, and people drink wine instead of beer!! I made my way back to Nice uneventfully, then got on the first bus that came by where I got dropped off on my way to the airport. I had no idea where it was going, but it was on the road next to the coast going toward my apartment, so I took it until we were next to Vieux Nice. Then I got off and hopped on the tram to go home.
I got home and knew I was going to have to leave in a couple of days for London, so I immediately unpacked (which I usually always put off), relaxed a little, and went to bed. This was Monday evening and I was leaving for London on Wednesday evening! Those will be my next posts, but I think I’m going to write them differently, not like this where I went through what I did each day. It just takes too long to write and for you all to read!! Anyway, tuned for my adventures in London! Not nearly as many mishaps as Germany though 🙂
OH and one more thing about Germany. THEY KNOW HOW TO DO BATHROOMS THERE. Clean, well, stocked, unlike France!