On the train from Berlin to Gdansk


Despite some lingering concern that flooding in Germany is still disrupting rail service, my train left Berlin’s impressive new train station (hauptbahnhof) right on time, in true German style. Now we are zipping across fields of corn, wheat and some other shimmering yellow crop, through forests of spindly fir trees, stopping at the occasional village with red tile roofs and, sometimes, wind turbines, between Berlin and Gdansk. God is there anything better than a train ride to a brand new place, listening to music on an iPod, feeling decades younger than You are. Probably but I do love the liberating feel of riding a train. Never feel that way on a plane or a bus. Sometimes I feel it in a car but I’ve still got to drive or sit in a confined space. I am in a six person compartment with a sliding door and three young women who seem a little less enthralled by the ride.

What I could use is one of those computerized maps on airplanes so I knew when we are in Poland. I wonder if there will be some telltale signs…beyond signs in Polish. Not sure I know the difference but the latest sign sure looked Polish and some of the young women in my car said we are indeed inPoland and have been for the past 30 minutes or so. Who knew?

My last day in Berlin was pretty laid back. I wandered around Charlottenburg, the gentile neighborhood near my hotel, past elegant buildings and attractive cafes. I browsed around KaDeWe, an opulent department store akin to Harrod’s, although the food halls didn’t have as enticing food. near my hotel in Wilmersdorf, I stumbled upon a quiet well tended residential street (Duisberger or Dusseldorfer Strasse) with a plaque at the corner explaining that this was where Charlottenburg’s Jews were relocated before their ultimate grim destination, the death camps. Took me aback. Reminded me of a conversation I overheard during my first day in Berlin. The dad kept pointing out to his two little kids this sight and that sight but his son kept asking “are there any concentration camps here?” Dad tried ignoring his question but finally said gently, “No, this is a city that is coming back and has all this cool stuff.”

Just arrived in Gdansk and some kind young people here for a big music festival helped me find my hotel, tucked in the old town, a house circa 1451. Two of our favorite bands are playing at the festival, turns out. The National and The Kings of Leon! Who knew? Below are some photos from the train journey!

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