The beginning of a crazy Berlin experience.
After picking up my luggage at the airport I knew that I needed to find a hostel right away. My nonexistent knowledge of the German language confused me to the extent in which I was starting to panic and going crazy. It was not only the fact that I did not understand the language but also the fact that my google maps app was not working properly.
Anyways, once I figured out how to get the bus to Berlin downtown I felt an incredible sense of relief. I got on the bus which took me to the main train station of the city. I was tired as my two bags were heavy.
I remember that my first thoughts of Berlin were interesting.
Indeed, it took me a while to understand the dynamics of the city and the way a city could be somewhat divided into two different ones. The beauty of Berlin was not only in its big parks, night life, and beautiful scenery but also in its history and how this history shaped the structure and the culture of the city. For me, the most obvious difference in Berlin was in the infrastructural differences between the East and the West. You could see the difference between the communist buildings and those that were not.
While looking at the window of the bus on the way to the train station I kept thinking that I had probably landed in the wrong country. Perhaps I had arrived in an Eastern European country or even a Latin American country. My memories from my previous travels in the Balkan region and some countries in Latin America were resembled in that short 10 min ride from Tegel Airport to the train station. Subconsciously, my brain probably was expecting that a German city would look all advance, super clean, super organized, and with plenty traditional buildings but my preexisting ideas were challenged. The big buildings, the big parks, and the roads kept reminding me of countries like Bulgaria and Kosovo or even cities like San Jose, Costa Rica.
But the more I entered Berlin the more beautiful and more interesting it got.
The kebab houses and the amount of Turkish restaurants gave my soul the push that I needed. It brought so many memories from my time in Istanbul that I was not sure if I was still amazed by the differences of the city.
I was excited to explore it all. To understand it. To see it. To feel it. And to enjoy it.
Once at the main train station I knew that I needed to find the train to Berlin downtown. This normally would be easy for me as I have a great sense of location but the complexity of this train station was too much for me at that moment. My traveling skills were rusty from living comfortably in the United States as people tend to drive cars instead of taking public transportation.
I knew what I needed to do in order to fix this confusion: ASK FOR HELP!
I approached this gorgeous German girl. She had the most beautiful green eyes I had seen for a while, her skin was soft and her chicks were pink. I stopped her and asked her for some help. Although her English was limited she tried to explain to me how to take the train to downtown Berlin. It was not that hard to be honest but she did her best in explaining to me that I needed to go all the way to the top floor and catch it over there. I took the electric stairs all the way up but on my way up I kept admiring the complexity of the train station. There were stores, restaurants, bakeries, and lot of steel. It was a grey building with different stations and different areas of commerce.
For my luck the bus ticket was the same as the train ticket which eased the complications of buying tickets without having euros. In Germany once you buy the ticket you need to validate it. But being me I decided to pull a Greece. Well when I say pull a Greece I mean that people in Athens never paid for the public transportation. The two times I had visited the country no-one really paid for the bus fare or if they did they did not validate the ticket.
In my head, I had the story already planned in case someone asked me for the validated ticket. I was gonna say that I had just arrived to the city so I did not know how the ticket system worked and that for the next time I was going to follow instructions. Plus, I was going to suggest that I did not understand the language. The funny part was that every time I would ask any German person about how to take the public transportation they would always say the same —you must validate your ticket before taking the public trans, your ticket has not been validated —
Little did they know that I actually did not want to validate it.