Ugh, what a long day. Had to be at the train station here in Liberec at 4:51 am to catch the first of many trains that would take me to the Czech Embassy in Berlin. Because I had to be up so early, I didn’t really go to sleep last night. I just kinda dozed, and half-napped for about and hour or so. It was refreshing, but not nearly enough. The first train was an uncomfortable, rickety thing that is probably a holdover from the communist days. I took that to a town in Germany called Zittau. In Zittau I hopped on a more modern, and comfortable I might add, train and headed to another town in Germany called Cottbus, and from there I made my way to Berlin.
I arrived in Berlin at 9:48am or so, so it was a four hour train ride. Then I had to figure out the mertro/public transit system. It’s called the S bahn, or at least one of them is. The other one is called the U and is followed by a number, depending on where you ride it. So, not only did I have to figure out where these things were, not all that difficult, but it did take me a few minutes to find where I could catch the S bahn. Once I found the proper platform, I was then faced with the challenge of buying a ticket from the machine. It’s in German of course, which wouldn’t be a problem if I knew German, but since I don’t I ended up paying too much for a ticket. That is I bought one that covered a lot more distance than I needed to go. Still, I was successfully able to by the ticket, and navigate Berlin’s public transit system so I was pretty proud of myself for that.
Then at the embassy I had to fork over some serious Euro, and wait around for about a half an hour as they sorted the paperwork and filed it so that I can get my visa and be officially allowed to work here.
The return journey was much more interesting that the way there. First of all, I cannot seem to buy a round trip ticket whenever I travel by train or bus and I leave the Czech Republic. This is ridiculous, and frustrating. It happened to me when I went to Ukraine too (and I will write about that experience one of these days–it was so long and surreal that I just haven’t mustered the mustard to tackle writing about it). So I had to by my return ticket in Berlin. Not a problem, right? Should be easy, right? Well, kinda.
I was able to buy a ticket for the first part of my return in Berlin, but only as far as Cottbus. I tried to buy a ticket for the whole way, but the woman at the ticket counter wouldn’t sell me one. She said I had to get the next ticket in Cottbus. I was annoyed (as I was not going to have much time in Cottbus to get to the ticket counter, and then get on my train and head for Zittau). Once in Cottbus, I rushed to the ticket window, only to discover that I had to buy the tickets for the remainder of my trip from the conductor on the train. I blinked my eyes in disbelief, then shagged ass to the platform where my train was just getting ready to pull out.
After not being understood by the conductor (she couldn’t understand me when I said Liberec) I finally showed her the slip of paper with the name of the town on it. Then she said it, almost in the exact way that I had said it, just with a little more emphasis on the Li part. She sold me the ticket, and luckily it was good all the way home, and walked off. I shook my head at the exchange, and just concentrated on getting back to Liberec so I could do a little internetting, and then get to bed at a decent hour; class early tomorrow, you know.
I still had some Euro leftover, some in cash form and some in coin form. Since the CZ is not on the Euro, they do me no good here, so I went to the exchange place and tried to cash it in. Well, they exchanged the cash, but they wouldn’t touch the coins. What the hell is up with that? It’s money isn’t it? YES! And to annoy me more, I had five Euro in cash, and five Euro in change, so I only got half my money back, and this means that I’ll probably have to go to Praha (that’s Prague to those of you not in Europe) and exchange three measly coins so I can actually use them here.
I guess I could save them for my next adventure into the land of the Euro, but I have no idea when that will be, and I kinda need the money now.
Berlin, from what I saw of it, was nice, as was the German countryside. And the weather was beautiful.
Still, I did not get back to Liberec until 6pm or so, and could have done without the nine hours of train riding, and additional time spent waiting for the train to arrive. Oh well, such is life in the CZ, I suppose.