My trip to Germany started with me staying all night in the airport. I didn't especially want to pay for a taxi to take me to the bus station at 2am (partly due to my fear of riding in taxis), so I took the tube at midnight instead. I took the bus to the airport and arrived at around 2am. Check-in for most flights didn't start until 4:30, but I was far from alone. I had no idea how many people would be there, sleeping in front of check-in desks and under the big television screens. Everyone started waking up around 3:30 and I checked in a little after the desk opened. I slept on the plane, but was exhausted the whole day anyway. Lilly came to meet me at the airport because she is just that awesome.
We ended up taking about five different buses before finding our way to Potsdam. Lilly kept asking people which buses and trains to take. They would answer to both of us and I would just nod my head pretending like I understood them. Then Lilly would translate for me after they left. It was a good system we had going.
In Potsdam we went to Sanssouci Park. Apparently some feudal lord (whose name escapes me) had all this land and built a palace for each one of his wives so that they would never have to meet. I don't know how successful his strategy was at keeping his secret, but after walking all around the park, I'd say it's possible never to run into your neighbor. The park was huge and we had fun taking photos of the palaces and each other.
Bridge over Reflecting Pool
Saturday, Lilly showed me around Cottbus, the city where she is studying. It was nice, but deserted on weekends, so we didn't stick around long. We went to Berlin for the afternoon. We spent quite a bit of time in a cathedral called the Berliner Dom. We climbed to the top and walked around the dome to get a beautiful view of the city at sunset. We also got to see a fountain with a sculpture of Neptune, a fancy car showcase, Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag (parliment kind of building), and eat yummy pretzels!
Sunday we spent in Desden, which was, unfortunately, colder than Berlin had been. We walked down a row of trees decorated with Christmas stars, saw a bunch of churches (from the outside), warmed up inside a mall with some coffee, braved the cold again to see more churches, passed a Christmas market (complete with signs and lights, but no stalls), warmed up inside a gift shop, saw more churches, and warmed up inside a restaurant with an ice cream Mickey Mouse.
The Great Wave
Catching my flight back to London was a bit stressful. I had been using Lilly's friend's student ID to ride the trains for free. Lilly and I got on the train, but she forgot her ID, so she got kicked off and had to take her friend's ID with her. They didn't check tickets again, so I was okay until I had to switch trains. I got my ticket at the next station easily enough. The man didn't speak English, so I showed him the paper with my schedule. He said "Cottbus?" and I said "No". Then he said "Oh, Schonefeld" and I said "Oui," because I figured any foreign language was better than English. It was only €2,30, which was the last of my euros. After that I accidentally left the station in the wrong direction. It wasn't until a few stops later that I realized it and I got out. The problem was that this train to the airport only ran once an hour and the next one was going to be cutting it very close. I got on the next train back, but I didn't have a ticket for the first four stops and I didn't have any money left to buy another ticket. So when the woman checking the tickets came around I hid in the bathroom until we got back to the station that I bought my ticket at. Then she came to check my ticket and told me something about how I should have validated it, but I didn't understand her. Then she got out her translation book and I thought I would be in trouble. She asked me where I was going and when I said the airport she said "okay" and left. The train arrived at the airport at about 8:50, so I only had five minutes left to check in. I ran to the terminal. The large tv screens said my flight was done checking in and was now boarding. The only Ryanair desk I saw said "Dublin", so I stood there for a few seconds waiting to talk to the people behind the desk. Then I turned around and saw the London desk behind me just as they turned off their sign. They were just closing, but the woman was nice and let me check in. The rest of my trip went well. I spent it sleeping and laughing about how I almost got standed in Germany.
A lot of my weekend was spent reminising about camp on our train rides to the city and back. The cities were beautiful, clean, and not very crowded. It was the perfect break from London. I fell in love with Germany and can't wait to go back!