Our train was scheduled to leave at about 1.30pm, so we still got enough time to explore the city some more. From the hotel we walked down the street of Ku’damm to visit the Kaiser–Wilhelm–Gedächtniskirche. First, we went to see the new church which replaced the original one for services and concerts. Both outside and inside of the new church looked completely different than what I am used to and than what I would expect it to be like. While the inside was not really spectacular, the altar area at least had some church-like and ceremonial look. However, the facade outside kinda killed the place and its atmosphere. To me, it looked like a bunker. I wonder whether this was the architect’s vision.
Afterwards, we eventually made it to the old church, the one that was bombed badly during World War II. This one was truly a master piece! Nice tower clearly representing what happened decades ago, stunning interior with mosaic ceiling, accompanied by objects found in the ruins and information boards with history of the church since its first architectural project. I had known how much the city of Berlin as well as Germany as a whole had been through, however, it was at this very place when its terrifying past with freedom and equality suppression, historical, cultural and artistic losses as well as thousands of victims fully emerged.
Being through all the serious stuff, I felt like going back. As we were checked-out already and there was still about an hour until we should go to the station, we sat for a while in a cafe, where each had a cup of hot chocolate. While watching the life on a busy Berlin street, we worked on an US caramel roller, which was fresh about five days ago and has made quite some traveling since then.
As regards the traveling, we started our journey at the Zoologischer Garten (ZOO) station, where we got by city train. It was the last ticket I bought in Berlin. There we were waiting for a train for little more than half an hour. Though it was a regional train, it was really nice and had screens providing information on the arrival time to upcoming stations. At the time we got on, the car allowing bike transportation was pretty crowded and it did not look to good for us. Fortunately, many people got off right at the following station, which provided enough space both for us and the red bike. Along the way, a cycling club of seven retired ladies got on as well. I think it was quite a challenge for them to put all their bikes in as they surely exceeded the maximal number of bikes allowed. However, what really mattered to us was that thanks to them our red bike was very down in the pile. I did not even like to think about a situation when we would get off the train earlier than them. It was a relief to see them leaving the train several stations earlier than us.
An issue of the greatest significance was, after all, the delay of twenty minutes. I believe it occurred because of a delay of the train that was departing the same platform only few minutes before ours. As we had to change in the station of Schwerin Hauptbahnhof and had 21 minutes to do so according the regular schedule, I was getting pretty nervous as I witnessed the delay getting any smaller. Thankfully, the conductor announced where to get off in order to catch the subsequent train with enough time to change. There were two problems though. First, she said the information in german only and we were thus fully dependent on my understanding (I hated this responsibility so much). Second, the station where we got off (Schwerin Süd) was a tiny one – with two rails and two metal huts at each platform. There was no departure board, neither a tiny information board providing us with any sort of assistance. To make sure we were waiting at the right platform I also asked a German man. To me he seemed to be very confident about what he was saying to us. Moreover, he gave exactly the same information of a trio of hippies traveling with us. His confidence though, might have had to a pretty severe impact on our traveling.
The train to Hamburg arrived to the other platform and I barely managed to read which destination was written on the first car. It took quite some time to cross to the other side as it did not make sense to try to cross the rails. Instead, a detour to the regular crossing was needed – if not for our safety, then because of the bike. I doubt I had any hope in catching the train as I was running towards the closest car of the train. Thankfully, miracle happened and I made it. The only change for the bike – and Grandpa in the first place – to make it to the train as well, was to stand in such a way that my body would prevent the door of the train to get closed. It tried to do so twice, while the train conductor was probably not very happy about that as she shouted something about “departure” in German language. I just thought to myself: not my problem. Finally, Grandpa with the bike made it too and he even earned an appreciation from the hippie trio: “Wunderbar.” The train was already loaded with bikes but we found a spot for us. After all that, an hour long ride to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof passed like nothing.
To sum up, I liked that we had decided to see the church today. As regards the traveling, I wish it had been less stressful. On the other hand, if it had been too smooth, I could not have been proud of us how well we managed.