It was Wednesday 10pm and I had packed bags with snacks, a camera, more clothes than needed, and even vitamins. Walking through Vallendar at 10 pm was equivalent to as if I was walking at 2 am. The streets were empty. I went to the bus stop to catch the 10:37 pm bus to Koblenz’s main station. I was going to Berlin for a few days!
Due to not many buses running at night, I was early for my 12:57 am train to Cologne. I spent time at the Koblenz station getting used to finding platforms, and understanding the express train seating whether to get on from A-F. This turned out to be helpful for other long distance trips I took. The rest of the 2 hours I was reading and talking to my brother. My first seating was in the train car, “Wagen”, 10.
I had decided to take the overnight train to have one more day in Berlin. From Cologne, it was straight to Berlin’s main station. For this trip, I was on the ICE in train car 24, which also had Wi-Fi. I mostly slept, but also talked to my friend back home thanks to the time difference, and arrived in Berlin around 9 am. Towards the end of the train ride, many people also going to work were getting on. Here, I was sleeping under my jacket, hat, and scarf, planning to explore Berlin while they were starting a normal work day.
The Berlin main station had many levels, because I took many escalators to get to the main exit. Some floors were underground and some were above ground. There were many shops at the station from clothing, food, flowers to travel services. It was a sunny day luckily, because so far most of January had been cloudy in Germany. I finally found the tram station and realized the tram had a machine inside it where I could pay.
After settling into the Airbnb and sleeping for a few hours, I walked around, shopped, and had dinner in the Pankow area (Northeast Berlin). There were pedestrians walking around everywhere. It was so nice! Berlin was turning out to be a pretty cool city. I kept walking on Schönhauser Alle Strasse (Street), and saw buildings with mural art, cute cafes, flower shops, and book shops. In addition, the train tracks ran in the middle of the street with trains passing by often.
I shopped at a clothing and accessory store which was eco-friendly and bought a lot of souvenirs and gifts for family and friends, including a water bottle for myself. Usually German restaurants don’t provide water for free, and I was buying too many plastic bottles, so it was an investment. I went to a German gummy bear shop which had vegan gummy bears. I also went to a café to get some work done and had a delicious mint tea. This was one of the few cafes which had people sitting there with laptops. Otherwise, cafes usually don’t have Wi-Fi and were more for talking with a friend or having coffee and cake. I hadn’t planned it but Berlin was turning out to be a gift shopping weekend. Coincidentally, I had also pre-signed up before coming for a sustainable and eco-friendly shopping tour of Kreuzberg (southeast Berlin) the next day.
For dinner, I did something unusual. Instead of preplanning, when I felt hungry I just googled nearby vegan restaurants (one of the advantages of solo travel). There was one only a few minutes away. I went back there Friday night as well! The best part: the food prices in Berlin seemed to be very student friendly.
Even though I had slept part of the day, the overnight train was worth it because I explored Pankow. And I was excited for the next two days in Berlin.