Monday, May 11, 2009

Güten tag

Lemme tell ya about our overnight train from Paris to Berlin. OMFG. After our first experience passing on a couchette (a small bed in a sleeping car of an overnight train) we decided to invest the extra Euro to have a good night's sleep this time around. If you'll recall, our first experience on an overnight train was a relatively sleepless night, mostly in the fetal position, on uncomfortable seats. We were interrupted by another passenger taking up his ticketed seat (jerk) for several hours in the middle of the night. This time, with tickets for a reserved couchette in hand, we happily made our way to the train looking forward to a relaxing and comfortable trip.

Now, we understand that traveling by train has its compromises. We can understand that the French have different hygiene standards and so a little body odor is expected. And, yes, sometimes people travel with children who can be a little fussy. Again, understandable. But what in God's name did we do to deserve the two stinkiest French women and their crying child in our sleeping car?!?! Not only was it the two of us and the three of them, but there were two other passengers squeezed into the six-bed car (that is the size of a closet, mind you). Seven of us, two stinky, one crying. Are you understanding the horror of it all?

Luckily, within minutes of settling in, Mandi managed to break her bed and enlisted the help of a friendly young Frenchman from the sleeping car next door to fix it. Twenty minutes later we were chatting with that same helpful young man, Maxim, from Paris, and the two other gents in his sleeping car (Matt, 20 year old from Michigan whose parents had both been laid off from their jobs in the auto industry and Mirko, the Italian who had just lost his job as a mechanical engineer). We were joined shortly thereafter by a nameless young French musician who busted out his guitar for an impromptu serenade/sing-along.

Sadly, at some point we had to go back to our own car to attempt to get some sleep (with the window now open, of course). Long story short, we made it to Berlin early this morning and had a busy day exploring the city including the Reichstag (the home of German Parliament - the building has a glass dome at the top that provides an excellent view of the city), the Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie and its adjacent museum. The computers at this hostel suck too (but at $11 Euro per night, who can complain?) so we can't upload all the photos now, but we'll get to it as soon as we can.

Mandi and Bekky

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