We left Prague (photo view from our hotel room this am) today on the 10:28 train to Berlin that actually left at 10:58. Prague station seems totally disorganized. About 75% of the trains were reflected as arriving or leaving late. Ours wasn’t but left 30 minutes late anyway. At one stage the platform number of one train went up 1 minute before its due departure time and everyone had to run to get to the train. It was total chaos. When we got to our train, the doors to the carriage we were booked on were locked so we had to board through the neighboring carriage and walk through. By the time everyone was on, there were not enough seats and people had bookings for the same seats – they just sat down in the aisle and waited. No conductor in sight and it didn’t seem like anyone cared to sort out the issue.
The train was pretty slow going as well. It was meant to take 4.5 hours but it took longer (because we sat in the middle of nowhere for about 15 minutes as well). Before the Czech border no-one even checked our tickets, it was only after the Deutsche Bahn people came on the train that they bothered to check the tickets and two people behind us were in the entirely wrong carriage (which might have explained something of why there were no seats for people with bookings). The WiFi on board worked well until we crossed into Germany and thereafter it didn’t work again. And I think the Germans must have thought the train was actually a sauna because it was very hot inside. Not the most pleasant of train journeys I have had in my life but we got to Berlin eventually.
What I also cannot understand about Germany is how poor the cellphone signal is in most parts of the country. We traveled for about 2 hours on the train either without cellphone reception at all or the signal was Edge (basically so slow you can’t use your phone except to send a text message and even that will probably take 5 minutes to go through). Smoke signals would be faster. This is not the first time I have moaned about German cellphone coverage and speeds though – if you have ever read any of my other blogs while I have been in Germany you would have heard me moan about this numerous times. South Africa (supposedly a much more backwards country than Germany) has much better coverage and speed than Germany. To prove my point I am battling to upload photos to the blog now as the speed in the hotel is only 2Mbps. I thought maybe my cellphone would be better as it was showing 3G but alas that in came at 0.2Mbps (don’t think the speed test registered that low!).
The other thing that I notice every time I am in Germany is that all the announcements on the train are only done in German. In Czech Republic, notices done in Czech and English. The moment we crossed into Germany all the announcements done in German only until we arrived at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. The train was full of English-speaking people (I reckon 75% of the train were tourists who were English-speaking) but no announcements in English. At least I can understand the German and follow enough to be able to understand the announcements.
We are staying at Cosmo Hotel Berlin Mitte (http://www.cosmo-hotel.de/) – photo from our room window again. The area (not the hotel) was recommended by my nephew who is currently staying in Berlin. We had agreed to meet him for dinner tonight. We took a taxi to meet him and the taxi driver dropped us off and pointed down towards the river. It looked fairly dodgy and on the way down someone remarked ‘Where has Daniel taken us to’. We arrived and discovered it was a private party (with the same name as the restaurant) but it wasn’t the restaurant! And at precisely that moment the heavens opened and it pelted down with rain. We had to call another taxi and by the time we got into it we were all drenched (and I mean drenched). We had to go back to the hotel to change and then back to the actual restaurant.
We eventually arrived about 45 minutes late at Spindler Restaurant (https://www.spindler-berlin.de/) and so by the time we finished eating it was 9:30pm. The restaurant is rated Top 10 trendy places to eat in Berlin (well done Daniel on selecting it). After dinner, we went to seek out ice creams for desert and then walked back to the hotel (and got back about 10:40pm). Our clothes are still seriously wet (they’re going to need a day to dry it seems).
For some reason even though we spent most of the day on the train, we are all pretty tired.
So until tomorrow
P, H, M, S, C, O (she lost her ranking today based on not understanding why Michael wanted to sit next to me on the train so we could watch cricket on my iPad)