After one of the most dramatic weekends of my life I was finally saying goodbye to Belgium. We had lost our minds at Tomorrowland and made a fools of ourselves in Brussels, but it was time to say goodbye to some cool Adelaidians and make my way to Poland.
It was a 4am wakeup. After a dramatic taxi farewell I was on my way to Brussel’s airport. I had lost my phone at Tomorrowland and I arrived document-less and teary eyed but determined to get on the plane to Krakow. I lined up at the counter, eager to get my hot little hands on that plane ticket.
Guess what? Brussels has two airports. And my plane was not at this one.
It was crushing. In all my time of terrible travel planning and disorganisation I had never made such a rookie airport error. I was disappointed, devastated and ready to give up on making it to Poland.
I sat down to
cry brainstorm. Apparently another Australian decided I needed help.
I was emotionally unstable so do not remember his name. He asked to borrow a phone charger and being completely phone-less now I told him to keep it. He was extremely grateful and was sympathetic after hearing about my day so far. He was heading to his families villa in Southern Italy and was adamant that I should join him. But my heart was set on post-communism not bolognese. Apparently my new friend had some other good ideas though and suggested the train station downstairs.
I was in Europe, of course I could just catch a train. It seemed blatantly obvious and uncomplicated. I would be able to spread out my legs, enjoy the view and be in Krakow by nightfall. I was way too optimistic.
It was going to take me 4 trains to get to Krakow. Making a long journey through Germany. My faith in German trains being on time was about to be very tested.
The first leg went smoothly and I enjoyed a sunny lunch break in Cologne. At this point I was fully appreciating the art of train travel, and the pure luxury of quick snippets of unexplored cities along the way.
By the time I was bound for Berlin there had been delays. Connection-missing kind of delays. Delays that leave you stranded and homeless in Berlin. But I was not alone. I had made friends with Nan who had spotted my Tomorrowland bracelet. We had bonded over the power of great music festivals while suppressing our concerns for our delayed trains. She ended up also missing her connecting leg, and as we lined up at the ticket office to get help we met Melody, another girl stranded in Berlin.
The beauty of train travel.
We teamed up and intensely googled for any availability at the nearby hostels but had no luck. It was July in Berlin and unless we were willing to spend our life savings on a the Hilton there were not many options. Basically we thought of two: We sleep in the train station or we sleep in a park.
It’s not quite as slummy as it sounds. It was a beautiful summer night and assisted by wine and good company napping in front of Berlin’s Reichstag may not make it on TripAdvisors list of ‘Top Things to Do in Berlin’, but it definitely was a lot of fun given the situation.
We dumped our luggage in the train station lockers and set up camp for the night. The park was surprisingly lively for a weeknight but I was emotionally drained and exhausted and fell asleep pretty quickly.
It eventually got later and seedier and we returned to the train station. We each found a bench and somehow managed to get through the night. We were grumpy, sleep-deprived and maybe a little smelly but we had survived. And nothing brings people closer together more than surviving a ridiculous night of sleeping in Berlin’s public areas.
But it was time to say farewell, as my train had finally arrived. I said farewell to my overnight buddies and passed out somewhere between Berlin and Krakow. All was well. Until an angry Polish lady yelled at me for sleeping on her seat… But that’s another story.