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Euro Love Train part 4 16th July 2018: Berlin to Copenhagen

By Monday morning the horrors of Amsterdam were very distant, geographically and temporally. All the tube and world cup and restaurant fail of Berlin was enormous fun, and I had a good night's kip on a surprisingly comfortable sofa bed in our enormous Airbnb.

The glass shatters a little bit as there is loud shouting in the living room, due to the discovery that one of our picnic bags full of stuff has disappeared. It's likely on a train somewhere or perhaps in Amsterdam. Oh well. Let's crack on: our train leaves Berlin Hbf at the leisurely time of 1039, so there's no need to hurry. Bags get packed and outside we order an Uber and a MyTaxi.

Mike's flying home a bit later, so gives us a giant grinning send-off from the balcony.

We've got, like, an hour or so until the train. A bunch of provisions are sourced from a supermarket in the basement, then we all go sit outside in the sun. There's vague tourism to be done around here, in the form of a giant physical hashtag and a nearby river.

But I'm quite hungry. Lots of us are. Andrei and I go in search of coffee for him and a pretzel each. God I love pretzels. Especially pretzels that are cut in half horizontally for usage as a sandwich, containing butter and cheese.

Also I go into the stationery shop and buy a replacement pen. Yes! Andrei had given me an American Airlines freebie that was definitely better than the Amsterdam thing but I really really really wanted to get a replacement for the nice pen that Helen bought me, and I succeeded. Hurrah! For the second time on the trip I feel like I'm living that "My pen! My pen!" sketch from Kids In The Hall.

Seriously, I did get that excited about buying a pen.

Anyway. Outside there are lots of birds. Ed tells us there are hardly any pigeons in Berlin, but tons of these smaller cuter birds. Sparrows? No idea. "Just as much of an unhygienic pest" though.

The river is worth a look, so I go and take a look.

It's very panoramic around here y'know.

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.

Before we know it they're announcing that we're coming in to Roedby and everyone descends to their cars or the train. Caught by surprise, we are yet to buy liquid provisions for the next leg so Andrew and I buy some ludicrously expensive bottles from the cafe.

Back on the train, aircon is broken and it's a fucking sauna. We are all sweating buckets. The views are nice; Denmark has a lot more water to look at than most of Germany.

For the first time in a while, people check our passports. No stamps though. There's working wifi and Andrei gets out some stroopwaffel. Oooh, stroopwaffel. Denmark is flat and sunny and we are running 20 minutes late, a delay that does not get made up but since this is our last train of the day it scarcely matters.

At Copenhagen, Ed buggers off to go have dinner with his mate while the rest of us go one stop to Nørreport station and then a short walk to our Airbnb. It's a large 5th floor flat, in a building with no lift. We're all carrying our own bags plus picnic bags with heavy stuff in them. Oof. I like the idea of five consecutive flights but not in a stairs context.

There is lots of huffing and puffing and huffing and puffing as we finally enter. Immediately I think: I haven't had enough stairs, I'm gonna climb the next set to go check out the roof terrace.

We have to try and plan and agree well here. No-one wants to "pop out" for anything with all these bloody stairs, and besides there's only one set of keys which means we have to stick together. A couple of folk have showers and then we all go out to a pizza place Andrei knows nearby, but it's too busy so we go to a different pizza place even nearer-by.

Leaves! Look! Health!

Yet more drinks spillage occurs and John accidentally knocks half a bottle of full fat coke over Andrei's pizza. God damn it. Anyway. We need to get roof-terrace-sunset beer plus provisions for the following day before the supermarket shuts at 10pm, since our train the next morning is before 0800 and furthermore no-one wants to make multiple trips up and down the stairs still. Ed joins us at Irma where we all have a massive argument about beer but eventually there's a couple of baskets full of stuff, including cubed cheese, and I pay and we're all good. Everybody back to the flat, where the plug sockets can cheer us up.

Might be worth another look out over the city as the light fades too?

Up top and everything packed away into fridges 'n that, Andrei and I are like "well, we're going out again, because in case you didn't know there's some of the most amazing beer on earth around here and we like our hipster beers". Also neither of us are scared of the stairs. My Amsterdam hotel certainly helped prepare my legs for them at least.

So, up the way we cross the river that's not a river but just some random body of water in front of a small non-castle. The pavements are wide and there are lots of groups of people playing music and having a beer by the wayside. The temperature is extremely pleasant and it's very nice around here.

A further 10 or minutes later and we're finally at Evil Twin/Himmeriget. The very first thing that my eyes are drawn to is a drink named after my first ever username on a computer of any sort (albeit one letter missing).

"No, it's f-o-r-E-m-a-n"

But I dont want vodka and raspberry crush. I'd like a beer. Over on another menu there's a bunch of beers by "Melvin", which is my bro's nickname. Is this bar made for us? Anyway: do they have any dark beers here, perhaps in cans?

Shit the bed. This place is ridiculous. They have 10 beers on tap, albeit only one dark, the 10.5% imperial stout I opt for. It's very powerful. But then there's that set of canned stouts plus the small matter of the bottle list.

Wait hang on what? 10.5% followed by 10.5 pages of beers, most of which are dark? Oh my oh my oh my. I mean, most of them are devilishly strong imperial motherfuckers and the prices go as high as – and I'm not joking here – £178 for 330ml of a 17.2% thing, but I'm still absolutely gobsmacked by the glory and wonder available.

But it's late and we've an early start and we should be sensible. OK, this trip isn't sensible, but we shouldn't go properly off the rails lest we miss our trains and stay, err, off the rails. So we have just the one here and walk back to the hotel via another craft beer bar, for a final nightcap of something lighter.

The route here has basically completed a square, meaning we're just a couple of blocks from the flat. Everyone is asleep apart from Ed, handily enough since I'm sharing a room with him so haven't had to disturb. It's almost midnight, and I'm chatting with Helen back home. Her messages are bizarre, incoherent and nonsensical.

Last trip to the roof terrace 'cos I love me some stairs, and I'm up there alone as the city is virtually silent but for the atmospheric sound of a church ringing in midnight. Ed's set his alarm for 0530. I should probably get some sleep.

Created By
Darren Foreman
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