Sunday, July 26, 2015

Day Fourteen First Day in Berlin

On the road again
            The entire group woke up extremely early in order to make it on our train to Berlin. After a very quick breakfast we made our way, packed luggage and all, to the tram where we would ride it to central station. We boarded the train once we purchased a small snack and got comfortable for the six hour ride. I was eventually lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the train. Once I woke, I found that our train had come to a complete stop. Overcome with glee that we had finally gotten to Berlin, I looked around at my surroundings. It turned out that we had only traveled two hours from Amsterdam. The train was about to head back to where it came from since the storm had ruined its initial path. No one had known of this information, and the faculty struggled to contact other members of the TNCIS program in the U.S. to gather other options. German policemen came through the aisles at one point (we were in Germany, just very far from Berlin) to notify us that the train would be turning back soon. A person spoke overhead on the train loudspeaker. They said that the train would be leaving in exactly one minute, and that there is another train leaving from the same station that we were parked at for Berlin. Once we heard the ridiculously last minute news, the entire group scrambled off of the train at the speed of light.
 The train left immediately after everyone was off, and we all waited anxiously for the train to Berlin. I treated myself to a few German snacks from a vending machine nearby for less than a euro. One was spaghetti bubblegum, a gum that came in the shape of spaghetti. The other treat I got was chocolate wafers. Once the train came, I did my best to get to the front so I could manage to get a seat. Sadly, I only managed to get a space on the floor of the bicycle cart. That’s right, there’s a special area of the train only for bikes that people carry on with them. Before I sat down, however, the class was trying to help people get on the train when it started to move. About half of the group was still on the platform trying to board the train when it started moving, so it was completely terrifying. Luckily it stopped after a few seconds, but it still scared me quite a bit even if I was already on the train.
Surrounding by at least fifteen other people from the group, I sat on the floor next to the bikes (which took up a considerable amount of potential space for other students). There were two German women who spoke very little English, and kept complaining about how we shouldn’t be sitting on the floor there. They suggested over and over that we all leave the train and get on another cart. For fear of the train moving again and knowing that the faculty would be opposed to this idea, none of us moved. When the train finally started to move, I attempted to keep myself occupied since there was no way I could use a laptop to do any homework. Eventually, we came to a stop that lasted longer than the others. Someone said over the loudspeaker that the train would be going through maintenance, and they had no idea how long it would take. I took this time, already stripped of two layers of clothing, to get some fresh air outside. There was little to no air conditioning in the tight quarters and I really needed a break. Almost as soon as we got outside, people began to go back in, stating that the train had already been fixed and that it was ready to go.
Once the train had started moving and made a few stops, the German women, along with other passengers got off the train and took their bikes with them. This provided much more space for the students having the sit on the floor. Some actual seats even opened up for others. I moved to a real seat on the bike cart and eventually fell asleep. I woke up a few hours later, our train extremely close to our stop. When the time came, we all got off and kissed the ground. Not really, but I was so happy to be off the train and finally on the way to our new hostel in Berlin. The group took a dinner break for half an hour before we made the trek to the hostel. I was excited to find a Burger King at the train station, and downed a chicken sandwich and fries in about 30 seconds after waiting in line. I had to eat it quickly because by the time the food was ready, the 30 minute allotted time was already up. At about 20:00, we had made it to our hostel. I was overjoyed to find that I got my own bed which happened to also resemble a tower. I was also happy to see that we had much more space than before, as well as large windows for fresh air. Upon discovering all of the amenities our room had to offer, I immediately went to bed.