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10 June 2011 / leggypeggy

Run for your life at Potsdamerplatz

Yesterday morning was like a nail-biting segment of The Amazing Race.

Poor John and I had to be at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (main train station) by 10:26 to catch a train to Hannover and then on to Oberhausen. We left the flat about 9:20 and had oodles of time. After all, we had fewer than 10 underground stops to go. The fact that we would have to take three different trains really shouldn’t have mattered. Normally, the route to the next train is clearly marked. Coming out on one train, you turn right or left and follow the signs and arrows. You may have to run up or down a set of stairs or two, or maybe even cross the street. But in no time, you are usually at the new platform and the next train is pulling in within five minutes.

One of our hurdles -- an escalator with no steps!

Not today. We have been staying near Nollendorfplatz Station and there is construction work on the train lines in both directions. This has never really presented a problem. It simply means that to go almost anywhere else, you have to go at least one stop east or west and then change trains. Generally we have gone one stop west and changed at Wittenbergplatz. Today we studied the map and decided to head two stops east to Potsdamerplatz. It appeared to have three train options available to us, rather than the lone one at Wittenbergplatz.

Big mistake. When in a hurry — avoid Potsdamerplatz! The place is huge and maze-like. The various types of train stations are poorly marked and spread across great distances. We were on a U-train and wanted an RE-train. The S-trains were fairly obvious, but quite a hike away. After scrambling around the station it turned out that the RE-trains are ‘sort of’ co-located with the S-trains. Duh! But where are the signs? Anyway, we got to the RE-trains only to discover the next train to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof wasn’t until 10:26. Exactly the time we needed to be pulling out of the Hauptbahnhof! Yikes!

The station at Leipzig taken on a day we weren't in such a rush.

So it was a mad scramble back through four U and S-trains to streak into the Berlin Hauptbahnhof and down four flights of stairs to Platform 7 just a minute before the train left.

Poor John usually likes to cruise along the platform, choosing his first-class train car carefully, but today the bully in me said — Just get on the train.


Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / Jun 10 2011 6:59 pm

    Goodness Peggy! You certainly were in a rush. It seems incredible that the Germans, who are renowned for being organised, have train stations with no signs. And given the number of stairs involved, I don’t think I want to go there anymore. I like places with escalators and lifts. Pleased to see though that you eventually ended up where you were supposed to be. I look forward to reading what you’re up to so keep them coming.

    Best wishes


  2. Sy Seltzer / Jun 12 2011 8:26 am

    Hello LeggyPeggy and John,

    There is never a dull moment when traveling and trying to catch trains,buses, boats or planes. If you had to catch a very important means of transportation and one that was a connection to a second one (like a plane to a far off destination)… then that would be a crisis. However, I don’t think that your travels to Berlin Hauptbahnhof was a major one. Never-the-less I would also be huffen and puffen if I had to scramble to get connections. All this reminds me of the New York City subway system and surface buses….. so complex and so many people, that you have to give yourself plenty of extra time to get somewhere. And as you know, still the unexpected happens. However, very good that you made it to Berlin Hauptbahnhof (I assume).

    In my one year traveling around the world, I was fortunate to not miss any connections. However, I came close in India. I arrived at a train platform only to see my train starting to leave! I raised my voice, waved and the train stopped with the last car at the very end of the platform… and I was lucky to get on!



  3. leggypeggy / Jun 12 2011 9:13 am

    Oh my, Sy, you were very lucky in India. We only worried about reaching the Berlin Hauptbahnhof because the train would get us to Hannover in time for a lunch appointment. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have rushed. But tonight I am trying to figure out how to get a ticket to Belgium. The online function isn’t working. We’ll just take a stab at it tomorrow. Fortunately we don’t have a strict schedule to meet this time.


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