I’ll admit it. I’ve looked up cheesy Instagram captions for my travel photos before–last week in fact for the ones I took in Vienna. One of them said “Lost in Vienna.” That’s so cheesy, I pointed out to my friend. I could never post that as my caption. Well, until it happened to me in Berlin.
I don’t know what happened but my luck just so happened to run out in the navigation arena. I always knew I wasn’t great at finding my way around, but boy was the first day rough (and the language barrier did not help). I went with my friend, but I was in charge of navigation because his phone was locked. Truth be told, I should never be in charge of this important duty, but I was the only one left to do it, so I took it as a learning experience. Every time we took public transportation–bus, tram, metro–we managed to go in the wrong direction. There were only two directions, and we had a 50-50 shot at going in the right way, but my luck had it that we chose the wrong direction each time.
Here are some examples of us just getting lost figuring out the public transportation system in Berlin. Upon arriving at Berlin, we took a bus further into the suburbs (what I labeled places when we got lost), when we didn’t even need to take that bus in the first place. Later on, we took a subway in the wrong direction for a few stops. I looked at Google Maps, bewildered at why the blue arrow wasn’t visible anymore. Turns out, it was visible when I zoomed out and we were far in the other direction. And to top it all off, we ended the day with an 11 minute bus ride that turned into a 2 hour commute. At this point, it was no surprise that we took another bus in the wrong direction. However, we were naive to think that we could easily get off, cross the road to the opposite side, and find our way back. Each time we couldn’t find a bus ride back, we would just go father in the opposite direction into East Berlin until we finally found a bus station that could take us back. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t realize that a car crash had created a detour, so we were waiting for a bus that was never going to arrive.
Looking back, I honestly don’t even know how we made it back. We bounced from one station to another with no help from Google Maps until we finally landed at one where a bus magically showed up. My friend and I looked at each other and had a split second to decide whether we wanted to get on the bus. Why not? We jumped on, testing our non-existent luck with the transportation systems (because at this point what was there to lose?), and somehow made it to our hotel. Our starting destination was close enough to our hotel that we could have avoided all of this by walking.
The following day turned out a lot better. We went to all our places without getting lost. I figured out how to read the screens in the subway, and didn’t depend on the blue arrow on Google Maps entirely anymore. It was great, up until the very end...
I thought I had budgeted enough time to get to our bus station, but I guess it still wasn’t enough with my track record. We were on the right subway, but my lack of confidence combined with a glitchy Google Maps led me to lead us off the correct track. When we realized we were on the right one, we had to wait for around 7 more minutes for another one to arrive. After arriving at our stop, we had to find our bus station. Once again, there were two directions, and we went in the wrong one. It was 8:15PM and we were on the opposite side of where we were supposed to be. Disappointed, I looked up when the next Flixbus would arrive and waited for another hour and a half. I persuaded my friend not to purchase the tickets in case the bus driver would kindly let us on. Luckily I did so because just as we were approaching the bus driver, another girl piped up and said that the 8:15PM bus never arrived. So technically, the Flixbus was later than we were. Thank the heavens! The bus driver told us to keep waiting, and subsequent Flixbuses told us to keep waiting. After 3 hours we realized out bus was never going to come and purchased tickets for the 11:15PM bus.
I finally made it back into my bed before the sun rose, and the whole day Sunday I did a lot of Netflix recovery. It was a whirlwind of two days in Berlin. As crazy as it was getting lost and stranded in Berlin, I did have a lot of fun seeing the Berlin Wall and East Side Gallery. It was a refreshing to see something more metropolitan than Prague and the other places I have visited.