Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Karl's European Vacation: The One Hour Flight

I left Berlin tired and happy.  I had the choice of a 7 hour train ride, or a one hour flight.  Obviously I chose the one hour flight.  After all, I am in a hurry to get somewhere and relax.  Hurry up already!  The problem with the one hour flight is that it still takes six hours.  Bus stop, bus, airport, pre-check in, check in, post check in, security, stop to celebrate your birthday because it is taking so long, and finally the flight.  But we aren't done yet-- you still have to actually get to the apartment at the new destination.  

It was rough right out of the gate.  I researched exactly how to get to the airport.  I had my Google Maps.  I was ready.  About 2 minutes in, I realized this was going to be a long day.  For some reason, the streets in ancient Berlin are made of uneven cobblestones and paving stones.  So my suitcase on wheels kept falling over like Muhammed Ali was punching it in the face.  Wobble, wobble, and suitcase is down.  Suitcase is down!  (Howard Cosell reference for anyone over forty.)

I finally lugged/carried/rolled/dragged my life in a box to the bus station.  Google Maps said it was the corner of two streets-- but there are four corners at an intersection, and each intersection had a bus stop.  Come on man!  I could literally still see my apartment and I was already fumblin' and stumblin'.

I was looking for bus 128 Tegel Airport.  Got it.  128.  128.  I finally found 128... But it said 128 Nordbahnoff.  Zuh?  Why is Google Maps lying about this one detail?  Why would it go through life so beloved and then choose to dick me around on this?   I was confused and quite frankly, a little hurt.  Google Maps, you son of a bitch.

128 was rolling up.  Great, we are off to the airport--or so I thought.  A nice German guy wearing a McDonald's uniform suddenly emerged from the shadows.  (Or he was also waiting for the bus.  I wasn't paying attention).  He asked me where I was headed.  I said "airport".  He pointed across the street.  Not this 128.  I needed... The OTHER 128!  Thank you, kindness of strangers!  Especially ones that smell like freedom fries and cigarrettes.  I found the other bus and was at the airport in no time.

The flight itself was non eventful, and suddenly I was in Frankfurt.  I needed to get to my new apartment, and quickly too; the guy I was renting it from was waiting at the place to let me in.  It was 10:00 pm and I was hoofing it from the airport terminal to the train into the city.  I was completely lost.  I spotted an info kiosk (manned by a human) in the terminal.  Yes!  Okay, time to turn on the charm.  I patiently waited as the info guy watched the World Cup Soccer game.  I could hear the crowd cheering and his eyes were fixed on a tiny TV above my head.  I stood there for a couple of minutes, literally staring at him 2 feet away.  Was I invisible?  Was this a Bruce Willis thing?  Were we "Sixth Sensing" it?   He picked up the phone and started talking.  Screw this.  Can info kiosk employees be tenured?  I guess they are in Germany.  I ran over to a map on the wall and figured it out.  Info kiosk guy was no help-- he put the weiner in Frankfurt.  (Hot dog SLAM.)

You know that scene in the movies when the guy rolls up to the train, and the doors close in his face?  And then there is sad music as the girl on the train cries and the train speeds off?  Well, that really happens, except it was just me and my broken down suitcase missing the train by literally 3 seconds.  Huff, puff, slam, chugga chugga.  Wah.

I spent the 30 minutes waiting for the next rain wisely--mostly cursing and wandering around.  A half hour later I got on the train and headed into Frankfurt.  Now I was really stressed-- this poor guy was waiting for me at the apartment and he probably had to work the next day!  I hiked over to the apartment and at 11:45 pm started apologizing.  He said "is no big deal".  Is no big deal?  It was almost midnight on a weekday!  I apologized profusely that I kept him up and he had to travel all this way.  I felt awful.

Then he explained that he was a student and he didn't have anywhere to be tomorrow.  Well, yeah, okay... but he still had to travel all the way over to the apartment!  "Is no big deal," he said.  "I live next door".  Yes, his apartment is 4 feet down the hall.  Mellow German guy then threw me some keys and let me settle in.  Welcome to the big city!

So remember, travelling sometimes can be a pain, but sometimes is "no big deal".