Train to Berlin
Trip Start Dec 27, 2010
105Trip End Aug 15, 2011
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For the first time during our stay in Prague, it was overcast and a little rainy as we packed up our things to leave the apartment. We had come to feel quite at home in our apartment and the neighbourhood and had developed a nice connection with the two women who ran the building. They had been so friendly and helpful to us and had really appreciated our easy-going nature towards the late-night partiers and various housekeeping issues. We had our hugs and were on our way.
The specially-ordered five-seater taxi took us to the train station, and we found our platform and car without a problem. Our seats were in a compartment of six, and a man from Prague joined us. We started talking with him (like so many people in European cities, he spoke English very well) and learned that he was retired from work in Berlin. He asked us where in the city we were staying, and Mark looked up the hotel address and told him, Kreutzberg. (Having done a little research in planning our stay, we learned it was an up-and-coming area with lots of cultural activities and restaurants; it sounded great.) Our cabin mate had a slightly different take on it and told us -- amongst other things -- that the hooligans in the district burn three cars a night, and the police can't stop it. Watching our kids sitting wide-eyed, processing this thought and fretting over the prospect of spending two nights in this unruly neighbourhood, I felt that the man probably did not have children. Mark and I made some lighthearted remarks and quickly steered the conversation onto the lovely scenery.
After about 4 ½ hours on the comfortable (Austrian) train, through some beautiful Czech and German countryside (mostly along a river, adorned with scenic villages), we arrived in Berlin. Down the taxi line, we found a van that could carry us all, and we got loaded up. The driver was a bit gruff and a bit wild (he made an illegal turn that put us face-to-face with another cab) but soon, we arrived safely at our destination. The neighbourhood looked fine -- actually pretty -- and we entered the secured gate and took the elevator up to the reception desk. It was a pension-style hotel, with a breakfast/bar area and funky decorations. Our room was basic, but nice and big and clean. We all liked this place right away and the kids’ worries over our safety seemed to melt away. All three kids enjoyed going to the bar in the evening and having juice and hot chocolate and playing cards.
But there must have been some lingering connections in Jack's mind to the story of the burning cars, because when we had all settled into our beds and were ready to sleep, we heard a cry (it sounded like it was coming from a young child in an apartment across the courtyard) and Jack responded, “There's the first scream of the night.”