It's also way too fucking hot. I can't stay outside, but anyway we should go to the platform. There's a 25 minute delay to our service but who knows how well the efficient Germans will make that up, so better safe than sorry.
It's such a fucking haupt bahnhof here. The east/west train lines go from the basement, while north/south lines go from 2 or 3 storeys up. The platforms are vast and cavernous, and the trains take about 3 minutes to come to a halt. They're long enough to have 2 restaurant cars. And since the 25 minute delay isn't being made up, but extended to 30 minutes, it's a good job it's so impressive rather than boring. It's also quite worrying, mind, since we're on a fairly tight change at the other end and this is eating into it. Andrew has researched alternatives but nothing seems particularly feasible.
There's a Czech train to admire next door.
Hanging out near where we know the first class compartment will be, we're up and ready when it finally pulls in at 1109. There's 6 of us on this leg of the trip and we have an enclosed 6 seat mini-cabin. Our bags go up top, and we can relax because our connection should now be safe. A bit of fruit and other snacks come out and Mark continues to display his commitment to drinking from a glass rather than straight from a can or bottle.
This goes disastrously wrong almost immediately as a mishap causes almost all of it to go flying, mostly onto his shorts. D'oh! So we mop up with a bunch of kitchen roll while he grabs his suitcase to get a new pair of shorts to change into in the carriage's WC.
Note, we haven't actually left Berlin yet. There are a few announcements but no-one can make out what they're saying, even the native German speaker in our midst. Then all the power goes out and we're plunged into darkness. With Mark still getting changed in the loo, whose door we hope is not electric.
All the while we've had solidarity SMSes from Mike, not sympathy texts but tales of plane woe: his flight seems to be suffering in the same way our train is, from initial delay all the way through to boarded-but-technical-fault-requires-a-reboot.
Eventually the lights and power come back on, but we still haven't moved, and the nearest member of staff has no news for us. Then an announcement is made which Ed can make out: it's "we have no idea if we can fix this train, but that one on the adjacent platform is also going to Hamburg so if you want you can go get on that".
Fuck! Everybody pack your shit up, everybody off, everybody scramble and try to find the first class coach. Of course the whole thing is mental and busy and chaotic, and while they're amenable to letting people on from the fucked train we just got off, they don't want to leave late. Everyone except John and I get as far as the bar near second class, while the two of us camp out in a vestibule in first class.
Reconnecting via facebook messenger, a couple of scouting parties reach us and decide that our vestibule is the better place to be, and after a while we're all stood there. Fuck it, anyone want a beer? This is a big pile of bullshit but, deep breaths, we're now en route to Hamburg, finally, and might even still make our connection... with 3 minutes to spare. Let's have a drink. Mark continues his dedication to drinking from glasses even while standing in a corridor.
We kill the time playing geo trivia nerd games. What's the only UK territory which uses the Euro as its currency? What are the two country names which start but don't end with A? What are the US states which have a capital city that starts with the same letter as the state? And that kind of stuff.
With half hour to go we're still seeking alternatives for once we get to Hamburg. We've got a place booked in Copenhagen for the night and don't know how we'll get there if we miss the train. Lester is utterly convinced we'll make it and if necessary the connection will wait, but nonetheless the rest of us make a ton of alternate plans: boat from Kiel to Goteborg? Lubeck to somewhere? Fly direct to Stockholm and fuck Denmark? Nothing seems realistic or cheap or pleasant and anyway we're coming in on time and standing in the vestibule, able to get off quicker than anyone else. So let's try and make things happen as they should first: everyone grab your designated bag and get ready to peg it to platform 8 from platform 4.
Never any doubt, was there? Except for Mark getting wound up that we hurried so quickly he lost sight of us, and didn't spot us congregated to the side at the bottom of the escalator nor hear us shouting his name, that is. Not only did we make it, the connecting train was fucking late anyway, by 5 minutes. Ha!
On we get, a Danish train with first class seats. Seating seems weird, we might have 6 in a line, but everyone on the whole train looks confused so we just grab a 2 and a 4 across the aisle and get on with sandwich making and wondering why the plug sockets are in the ceiling. The dark beer bought from Berlin is fizzy, sweet and not very nice at all. I settle down to write up the previous day while Germany rolls past.
This part of Northern Europe has tons of wind farms everywhere. It also has this train that we're on that gets on a boat, because fuck yeah train that gets on a boat. We did this in reverse direction in 2013, when a similarly traumatic Copenhagen-related train ride had us delayed and seeking alternatives and etc. It's the train ferry from Puttgarden in Germany to Roedby in Denmark, and literally the train's carriages park up on the 3rd deck and everyone gets off to go cross a border.
Well, actually, 3 of them go upstairs and the other 3 of us go seeking Kirschwasser in the duty free shop, alas to no avail. On deck we find the others and take drink orders, then Andrei and I descend back inside to buy 5 bottles of Tuborg and a Coke Zero. Back up top we can celebrate putting yet more fucking stressful fail behind us because fuck yeah we on a boat.
It is glorious.