Tot ziens, Utrecht – Hallo, Berlin!

Posted: August 12, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Thursday, 09 August 2012

Tot ziens, Nederland! –> Guten Tag, Deutschland!

On Thursday, we checked out of our lovely home for the week in Utrecht — Hotel Mitland — hopped into a few cabs, and went to Utrecht Centraal.  At the central train station, we dragged our bags onto the regional train to Amersfoort and then transferred to the red “Hispeed” train to Berlin.

After a couple of hours, the announcements on the train switched from Dutch to German and we stopped to pick up a German engine and staff at the first border station.  On the train, some of us slept, Angelique and Erin watched one of our course films [“Zwartboek” or “Black Book”], a few people made their way to the lunch car for a first taste of German fare, and others spent the six hours watching the landscape fly by through the windows.

We pulled into Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) at around 17:30 (5:30 pm on a non-24-hr. clock).  It sure is an impressive train station!  It even has a huge sign on one end of the ceiling that says “Wilkommen in Berlin” — Welcome to Berlin!

After getting our transportation passes and getting a feel for our new home, we made our way to the S-bahn platform (the S-bahn is like an above ground metro/subway) and rode to our stop in the Ostkreuz neighborhood.

Ostkreuz S-bahn station – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Ostkreuz S-bahn station – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

And what a neighborhood Ostkreuz is!  It’s filled with restaurants and snack shops (one block alone has a Pho place, a “chicken hut,” a Mexican/Indian joint, and a Japanese/Korean eatery).  Right next door to our hostel (A+O) is a “biologisch” market = all organic with LOTS of vegetarian and vegan food.

Street art in Ostkreuz – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

Ostkreuz neighborhood – Photo by Shady Grove Oliver

We dropped our bags in our rooms and went out for a wonderful dinner at the Indian restaurant.  For a number of people, this was their first time trying Indian food!  It seemed to be a big hit.  Several bowls of palak paneer and aloo gobi later, we walked back to our new home for nice, long night’s sleep…

…But first we went downstairs for an impromptu survival German lesson and a sampling of local beverages.  I went up stairs to get the vocabulary sheets; when I came back down to the communal area to meet everyone else, I was surprised to hear Disney songs emanating loudly from the lounge.  I was even more surprised to see that it was emanating from two of our own intrepid students who had–to the delight of the lonely barista–discovered the karaoke machine.  Post-Disney and Michael Jackson, we all sat down for a crash-Deutsch course, followed by a round…or two…of pool and then sleep.

Will be updating about our last few days in the Netherlands – due to illness and lack of internet for a few days I’m playing catch-up.  But current updates to come as well.  For now, I bid you…

Auf Wiedersehen!


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