After five days in Berlin, I felt like a public transportation ninja, mistress of all trains, trams, and buses, conqueress of the Bahns. I didn’t need to follow my blue dot on Google Maps. I’m clever and experienced. I’m practically a Berliner!
I went to Berlin to take an abdominal massage course and I can personally attest to the mental relaxation that this massage gives you. I had transported myself across the city for the past three days using various forms of transportation and felt like I had a handle on all of them. I could not have been more wrong, but I blame the mental relaxation of the massage course. On the plus side, I was so relaxed, I didn’t get upset or nervous.
I chatted with a new friend after class and was closer to the tram than the subway, so I decided I would go home by tram and bus today. It was a little rainy and already dark, but since I took the subway in the morning, I’d just add some tram-bus variety to spice things up a bit.
The tram came and I got off two stops later and realized that it was the subway that dropped me off in Alexanderplatz in two stops not the tram. Oh, well. I hopped on the next tram a few minutes later and went on to Alexanderplatz.
I looked around and didn’t see my bus stop. Hmm. Now it’s starting to rain. Well, since I’ve already made one mistake, maybe I’ll pull out my phone and look at Google Maps for a second. Ok. Walk two minutes. Here it is. Next M48 is in 13 minutes according to the real-time updated digital screen at the stop. Whatever. I’m in the bus shelter with all these other Berliners and I’ll read this article on my phone, just like them.
Several Bus 100s come by, quite a few 200s, one or two airport buses, a couple of M85s. What the heck! I check the digital screen. The M48s keep getting pushed down the list. I check my watch. It’s been a half an hour!! (To be fair it was an interesting article.) Fine. Now it’s not raining and I know that the subway station is nearby. I’ve already wasted 30 minutes on a bus that wasn’t coming.
I get to the subway station and I think to myself, “I’ve been here before. I need the train on the left track.” It’s packed so I miss the first one. I get on the next one and take a seat and continue reading my article. A few minutes later it occurs to me that I should check the names of the stations as they go by. I turn my head and, just as the doors are closing, I see the name of the subway stop for my school.
I am an idiot.
I get off at the next stop, cross the platform to the train going the opposite direction, and commit to riding this train all the way to my stop. I confirm by checking the stops as we go along that I am finally going the right direction. I feel silly as we pass Alexanderplatz.
Then I realize that I haven’t checked my travel plan for getting to the restaurant where I’m meeting a friend for dinner. Ah, it’s a two-line subway trip. I see that the transfer station is an M-O-umlaut station. I look up and I see that we are at an M-O-umlaut station and I get off thinking that I could transfer here to get to the line that takes me closer to where I’m staying.
Of course, it’s not this station. As if there is only one M-O-umlaut station in all of Berlin. Not only that, if my brain had actually been functional, I would have known that this transfer wouldn’t work, otherwise, I would have taken this route to the school in the first place. Why walk 10 minutes to another subway station in the freezing cold if this one would be more convenient?
I am an idiot, but I’m just about to start hysterically laughing because this trip home has now reached the level of the circus of the absurd, starring me. (In an alternate version of this story, this would be masterful spy craft. No one would be able to follow this circuitous route!)
I get on the next train and totally commit myself to staying on it till my stop and also to not missing it. I arrive and walk home.
Now I only have a half an hour to drop off my stuff and get ready to go out for another half-hour trip on the subway. I’ve learned my lesson now: Google Maps, carefully assure myself that my blue dot is following the path, and do not wander.
I go to my subway station. Good. The train is coming in four minutes. And right then an announcement: the train is delayed. Internal hysterical laughter. Of course the train is late!
Google Maps gives me an alternate route. Out to the street again and the M85 is on the way. I will not wait for the inconsistent and betraying M48! I make it to the subway and I’m on the way with no more problems.
On the way home after dinner, some young drunk people get on the train and serenade the crowd with The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” followed by A Flock of Seagull’s “And I Ran.” And that seemed like the perfect end to my transit adventures.
One thought on “In transit 2 – The joys of Berlin’s public transportation system”
Well played! Grateful that you had an interesting sojourn on the public transportation system of Berlin and still managed to tell the tale without the need to remark on the system’s breach of the German punctuality code of behavior .
More importantly I am grateful this Thanksgiving that you “found” your way home 🏡 🦃❤️