Highlight: Not sleeping in a train station. The highlight of my day was finding a bed to sleep in in Dusseldorf. What a shitty day.
Lowlight: The whole day sucked. Spending 10 hours on trains without a book sucked. Going to Berlin and not finding a room sucked. Almost not finding a room in Dusseldorf sucked.
Money spent: 14 Kr + 39 Euros
Pairs of clean underwear left: 7
Around 10:00 AM
I still have 3 hours to go before I reach Berlin, and already I’m bored and going out of my mind. I really need a new book. There’s only so much Solitaire I can play.
I had an empty compartment to myself until Dresden. I couldn’t figure out why everyone passed right by my carriage. It wasn’t until a young man joined me and promptly lit a cigarette. I was disgusted and left. Then I realized that I was in a smoking designated compartment. Now I’m jammed into a full compartment and I can’t even play solitaire.
Around 1 pm
Well, Berlin was lots of fun. I got off at Ostbanhof (the main train station in East Berlin) and tried calling hostels to see who had rooms available. I called 4, none did. So, I jumped on a train to Zoo Garten station where the tourist info office is located. When I arrived it had closed for lunch hour and wasn’t scheduled to open for another hour. So, I screwed around with payphones that kept eating my money, called another 5 hostels, and realized that Berlin was booked solid. Not a room available anywhere. Dejected, I jumped on a train for Dusseldorf.
Around 3 pm
Now I’m cruising west on an ICE at 240 km/h. They have a speedometer on the wall that I can’t stop staring at. I really need a book.
To amuse myself, I played more solitaire card games. It took me 20 tries, but I finally beat one that Erin taught me.
I briefly considered taking a train all the way to Amsterdam, since it was going to be my next stop anyway. But I hear that its busy, and I don’t want to arrive at night and have to sleep in the train station. Instead, I’m going to get off at Duesseldorf. It’s a medium-sized city with 2 hostels, and there are several trains that run from there to Amsterdam. Dusseldorf doesn’t strike me as a busy backpacking location, so I should have no problem finding a room.
Around 5:45 pm
My first stop was the tourist info office that was closing in 15 minutes. The guide book says they book rooms at the hostels. The lady gave me directions to both hostels and assured me both had beds available. Relieved, I jumped on a bus to the nearest one. When I got off the bus, a kind old lady pointed me in the right direction. After a shitty day, I was feeling much better about traveling. Thank god for kind old ladies.
My moment of joy was short lived. In the window of the hostel was a sign proclaiming: “No rooms available”. My heart sank. Not again.
I found the bus stop to get to the second hostel. After 10 minutes of waiting, the electronic sign said it was due to arrive in 21 minutes. So, I walked across the street to a pay phone so I could call the hostel and prevent any further wasted effort. I called 4 times – no answer. Then, the bus pulled up to the stop. I madly grabbed my stuff and ran back, barely catching it.
The bus has this cool television screen that shows what the next stop is. I knew the name of the stop I wanted so I waited until it was displayed, and then got off. Unfortunately, it was wrong and I got off a stop late. I had to walk all the way back.
Then I couldn’t find the hostel. After about 10 minutes of searching I found it hidden behind some construction scaffolding. When I finally got in and stood in front of the receptionist, I was fully prepared to be rejected. It was just one of those days.
But they had a bed available. I was so happy, I almost cried. I dropped my stuff off and immediately went to call hostels in Amsterdam. But I couldn’t get international dialing to work on the pay phone.
By this time, the long day of heart ache was catching up to me. I had only eaten granola bars and snacks all day. I was starving. I hiked downtown and found a pizza place and ordered a medium vegetarian pizza – just something quick, satisfying, and filling.
Today was the worst day of the whole trip. The day in Florence when Ariel had her wallet stole and we had an argument with the hotel owner was bad. The day Ben cracked his shoulder and I spent the day in the hospital was bad. But I had someone to talk to and share the pain with. This was just a long day of constant disappointment and solitary confinement.
Did I mention it rained all day, because it did.