Thursday, August 12, 2004

11/8/04 Berlin (Train ride out) and Gifhorn

There is an automatic ticket dispenser at the station which I study for a long time and watch others use. I _think_ I could get it right but to get to Gifhorn there is a change of trains required. In the end I am not quite confident enough, so I decide to get some human help. The lady at the information desk can speak a little English and she prints out a piece of paper with the exact two trains I need. With this firmly in hand, I proceed to the ticket office, where I am in the line for more than half an hour! It’s not really the ticket sellers fault, there are only three of them, and one of those is tied up by a young girl who really doesn’t seem to know what she wants. A lady in the line behind me is getting pretty irate, I don’t need to know what she is saying to tell that. Finally there is only a young lad in front of me and he walks up to the next free ticket lady, who promptly sends him back into the line. As he gets to me I ask whats wrong and he says that ticket seller only speaks German and won’t serve non German speakers. With a bit of trepidation I approach her and show her my piece of paper with the two trains listed and she seemed pretty OK with that. I tried to get first class, but “no first class to Gifhorn” apparently.
By 1955 I have left the Zoological Gardens station on the fast ICE (Intercity Express). 15 minutes later we are in the countryside. It’s been a fairly long day and I notice for the first time that the back of my shirt is streaked with salt. I hadn’t noticed this in the humidity of the day. The LED display shows the train is doing 220kph but there are no objects near the tracks so it doesn’t look fast at all.
I get to Wolfsburg at 2100 and it is a deserted place. I catch a local train to Gifhorn and the last few km take nearly as long as the rest of the trip. Ralf arrives to pick me up and we go back to his house.
As part of the amusement Ralf suggests we go out and see if we can see the predicted meteor shower (the Perseids). Ralf assures me that there is a deserted road which he often goes roller blading on. We nearly get run over three times! We also don’t see very much in the way of meteors either. I later hear from Sabine that a group she was part of saw them, but the sky in Germany is badly light polluted.

Thus endeth another long day.

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