03.12.2015 was Day 3 of the trip, a day which started out pretty… disturbingly.
We had special plans for later that day. We would be visiting my Dad’s last living cousin (more on this in the next post)! However it wouldn’t have been till 10.30am that we would be leaving for Solzow, a part of Eastern Germany, hence I decided to squeeze my time in Berlin for all it’s worth and told Mum and Dad that I’d go for a little exploring on my own. Next stop: Der Berliner Mauer (The Berlin Wall)! (Or so I thought…)
*This* was where I was planning to head to. The East Side Gallery is thankfully only a single U-Bahn stop away from Warschauer Straße, i.e. where I got my lunch for the tour I went for the day before.
It reads, “A double row of cobblestones traces the Berlin Wall’s route over 5.7 kilometres through the city centre. This tour from the East Side Gallery to Bernauer Strasse via Potsdamer Platz passes memorials, Berlin Wall remnants, former border watchtowers and documentary panels with photos and details of the area’s history.”
This time round, the train took me to somewhere a little more remote, a little dirtier and a little more… eerie to put it nicely. It is a little difficult to explain. As I hopped out of the train, I was greeted by a somewhat rundown flea market vandalised with senseless graffiti drawn by directionless hands under the influence of young, careless minds.
I don’t know whether it was the gloomy skies or the temperature which had sent literal chills up my spine. Or maybe it was the slightly suspicious characters eyeing me… It was uncomfortable but my lust for adventure was too strong for me to let a few unnerving conditions catapult me out of my plans, especially since I was only 600m away from my destination.
Moments later, I walked past these posters. They read, “THE GREEN MARKET BERLIN Winter Edition 2015; VEGAN LIFESTYLE MARKET.” A pity that they’d only be taking place 10 days after I had read these posters that day. A blessing, though, that Miriam texted me about this days later to inform me about this knowing that I was in Berlin then. A blessing that I have angels around me in the form of friends.
“Two hundred twenty-two… two hundred seven… one hundred ninety-eight metres. Getting close! Very very close!” I mumbled ever so softly. I love how excitement feels like: my pulse raced, my hands clutched my phone tighter and my lips formed a little smile.
However, it was right then when I looked up from my phone and spotted a group of clearly drunk middle-aged men. One of them had his face covered in scruffy uncombed fur that was his grey beard. Another had oily hair which almost seemed as though it had not been washed in months. Yet another one was dressed in dirty rags and was flashing his toothy smile at… me. They were all looking at… me.
They came closer…
… and closer…
… until it got too close for comfort and something in my heart told me I’d be better off heading back to the hotel. My safety was worth more than the 6,90 Euros I invested in the U-Bahn Tageskarte (Day Card).
I swiftly turned around and began rushing towards the U-Bahn station. My feet felt so heavy and time seemed to have slowed down. It was torture fighting my desire to run yet appear ‘normal’ to everyone around me. My heart palpitated so strongly against my poor ribcages and my diaphragm was working so hard to make sure my lungs were expanding and contracting efficiently and that I’d be properly oxygenated for a potential dash.
I looked behind me once more and saw the men wobbling and tumbling over one another as they made their way towards me. I’ve never been this terrified during my time in Germany so far.
After that, neither did I look back anymore nor care about appearing ‘normal’. I simply dashed for my train. I just ran and ran and ran as quickly as my feet could take me.
When I was no more than three metres away from the beeping train doors, I heard the loveliest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Nothing ever sounded so sweet and so… safe.
Christmas carols were echoing from inside a cabin that was nearest to where I was. I could almost ‘see’ the tunes flowing out of the train and ‘feel’ them reaching out to and embracing me, urging me to come inside and simply shrug the little scare I had just experienced.
There were little kids occupying the entirety of both benches in that cabin and they had the most adorable cheeky smiles plastered over their tiny round faces. A flush of warmth flowed through me and I’ve never felt more thankful for having found a sense of comfort and promise of safety in a foreign land.
Here’s a taste of the jolly tunes which wafted into my ears during that very lovely train ride…