Monday is finally here and the chance for (probably) my only vacation this summer has arrived finally. To get to Germany, where I expected to have a great week as well as get relieved from all the school-related stress, I took a train. For the first time in my life it was a ride significantly longer than going to Olomouc or Prague (maximum of four hours). This time I was supposed to survive on the board for more than ten hours, change twice on the way and to make it even more memorable experience, I had a bike to take care of.
The first difficulties showed up as early as a week before my departure when I wanted to reserve a spot for the bike. I understood that the trains were pretty crowded at this time of the year, so I was forced to take a different train than I planned originally. I expected getting on the train with a bike and kinda heavy backpack to be difficult but things were worse than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. First of all, due to a construction work on my route I had to start my travel by actually getting further from my destination rather than approaching it from the first minute of the train. At least I could cover the very first stretch by car which turned out to be very helpful. Second, I was close to remain in the train in the station of Brno for ever. The train stopped quite far from the platform and as a result I had no idea whether it actually stopped or was just waiting for an available platform. However, a much worse problem occurred – I had to somehow handle a big jump from the train and honestly, I would probably never ever get the bike of the train if it was not for the help I receiver. At this point, therefore, I would like to thank the lady who offered me her selfless help with the bike. It was much appreciated, very welcomed and literally made my day.
The ride by EC (EuroCity) train from Brno to Berlin did not begin in an easy way either. I had a bike spot booked in a certain car. I entered it just to find out that the spot right next to the door was occupied. I made my way through that narrow isle and reached the other end of the car in few minutes and after several stumbles. What a surprised waited me there – the other spot was not free either. The train conductor gave me couple of “I’m sorry” and tried to explain how it happened. She finished her monologue by saying that I got a reservation for a spot which did not exist. The solution she could give me was to stand with the bike in the isle till Pardubice station (1.5 hours long ride). Honestly, I was not very delighted about the generous offer she made to me. At the same time, I was truly lucky. A German guy with a mountain bike lent me his climbing ropes to fix the bike to the car door. Thanks to him I could sit down in a much shorter time though I was nervous if the bike was still OK over there. In Pardubice, finally, a spot for me – well, my bike – got available. It was a relief to hang the bike on the hook there and do not care about it any more for several hours.
As relieving as it was, the journey got a bit boring at the same time. I spent quite a while comparing a flight and train ride for myself. Based on my personal experience, the result is as follows: first, the train definitely offers much more space – a double seat only for me provided just enough space for my short legs. Second, the view is incomparably more exciting and varied. On the other hand, no food was served, which made the ride awfully monotonous. Furthermore, there was no screen and movies and games available. A blanket would be pretty nice as well as I started feeling really cold for the last two hours of the ride. To somehow entertain myself, I had National Geographic magazines and book of crosswords and Sudoku puzzles. The longest music listening session of my life helped a lot as well and I would like to particularly thank Adele, The Piano Guys and Czech interprets Jaromír Nohavica and Petr Spálený.
Having mentioned the advantage of nice view when going by train, I must highly recommend the stretch between the Czech town of Ústní nad Labem (a town through which the Elbe flows through) and Dresden in Germany. Shortly before leaving the Czech Republic, the mountainous landscape with houses of all possible sizes, shapes and colors, squeezed in between the huge rocks emerge. The scenery was so diverse and so much fun to watch! Furthermore, many of those buildings radiated their rich history and old age. That was the first time I was tempted to leave the train and do something more funny than just sit – namely, to take pictures there. The unusual architecture could have been seen once we crossed the Czech-German border, too but shortly was replaced by sunflower fields and the panorama of Dresden. While approaching the city, the second moment of temptation occurred – there was a smooth-looking biking trail right along the river, which I would love to use for a roller blading trip.
The last hour of the ride was about the worst time in a long long time as I was so cold, moreover, the end of the ride was so close (at least in comparison to the situation at 9am in the morning) and yet the time seemed to slow down terribly. After all, even that last hour passed and I finally got of the train. And the bike with me. It was not that hard to find my travel companion for the next week. Moreover, a great feeling of seeing him again after a long long year flashed from the mists of any obstacles on my way to Berlin and lack of sleep the last night. Thank you for coming to see me, Grandpa.
Surprisingly, it was substantially harder to find the lodging than each other at the station none of has been at before. The German system of numbering the building defeated us initially. I am used to even numbered buildings to be on one side of the street and buildings with odd numbers on the other one. (At least) In Berlin they have a different way though- numbers were decreasing on one side while on the opposite side of the street they grew. After couple of unsuccessful phone calls to the place and no one on the street who could really help us (though the lady on the bike did her absolute best), we gave it one more try and went down the street once more but on the other side. When we finally made it to the place, it was not quite what we expected. Let’s keep it a secret, and therefore I will limit my description of the problem as “severely threatening my further moral development”. For this reason, a search for another place to stay the next three nights was needed. Thankfully, we got some help in this first place, thus being able to solve our problem rather fast and with little effort. Our seemingly aimless walk down and up the main street came to the end not far from the famous shopping street, Kurfürstendamm. We reached the hotel at the right time as it started raining quite intensively when I was having a shower. Good night, the first one in Berlin.