I have always liked the idea of going Interrailing. As you can see in this blog about Canada, I do enjoy train travel. After some research, a multi-country pass was coming up at about £180. Two days after discussing it with Karl, and planning out an itinerary, I received an email from Ryanair. They were offering £20 off every single fare. Our plans changed. I worked out that we could visit five destinations in ten days for just £100. With a couple of friends to visit, we devised a new itinerary.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Our first flight took off at “omg o’clock”. We struggled out of bed at 02:00 to bus across London for the first Stansted Express train of the day. Dead bodies slumped over suitcases littered the McDonald’s just outside Liverpool Street station. Clearly, we had all made the long journey for the same thing.
At Stansted Airport, and utterly exhausted, we needed sustenance. As we had already been up for hours, we decided to get a Boots Meal Deal each for breakfast. We boarded the plane and popped our hand luggage into the overhead locker. I gave my passport to Karl as we taxied, when I realised our bags were now inaccessible. After takeoff we inhaled our breakfasts. We stuffed the rubbish in the seat back pocket and fell asleep.
I awoke to a persistent tapping. Karl wanted me to take my passport back. Now, ladies clothing very rarely includes pockets large enough to house a passport, so I wedged it in the Boots bag and fell straight back to sleep.
“Rosie, Rosie, they’re collecting rubbish”.
“Sure, the Meal Deal bag”.
Arriving at Berlin Schönefeld Airport immigration, I realised my HUGE mistake. Ryanair’s twenty minute turnaround policy meant that the plane already had new passengers boarding. We were walked through to a control office where the long wait began.
We needed to get to the British Embassy in the centre of Berlin, but to do so I needed an alternative form of photo ID. Unable to drive, I have no license. I don’t know how it happened, it was a dozy fog of tiredness and stress, but I believe I entered Germany on a scan of my student ID! Speaking to the Embassy on the phone was a mixed experience. The first lady I spoke to, told me I would have to turn straight around and go home again. I cried. From the other side of the desk, I heard another woman say, “Let me see what I can do”. Good cop and bad cop firmly established, I had some photos taken at the airport, and purchased a special permit that allowed me to get to the Embassy. I think it was about £30.
When I arrived at the Embassy, I filled out my lost passport form and submitted it. Only bad cop remained at the counter. She gave me a look of disdain as she pushed an emergency travel document towards me. “She shouldn’t have done this” she spat. Good cop had re-routed it through Germany, Italy, Spain and France so we could complete our trip after all. What a lovely woman!
Feeling completely drained (it was now 17:00 in the evening) we sat for an uninspiring meal in a slightly overpriced restaurant on Alexanderplatz. Failing to see any sights, we took the U-Bahn two stops North to Senefelderplatz. We had a room booked at EastSeven Hostel, a real gem of a place. Our double room was spotlessly clean (although it was painted an eye watering shade of lime green) and the reception was incredibly helpful, whipping out a map as soon as we arrived. They offered free walking tours, among other free events, but due to our shortened time, we grabbed a leaflet for a bike tour. This looked like a way to see lots in a short time, and you can read about it here.
(Disclaimer: Our camera was pick-pocketed later on in this trip, in Barcelona, so there are very few photos, and those I do have, I’ve had to steal from another trip to Berlin and Abi White’s most excellent collection).