It’s been 2 weeks since I checked into my sister’s crib in a European country. This time the travel was uneventful (luckily cause last time I was travelling I missed my flight back home and had to wait at the airport for 24hrs!). So this time there I was walking around the airport in Dubai trying immensely not to stand out…it’s something I’ve realized-I try extra hard to hide when I’m away from home surrounded by masses of foreigners.Feeling like the odd one out cause of my dark skin…am I the only one who feels this way?? Now that I think about it I’m thinking there must definitely have been quite a number of people feeling the same way. We were all out of our comfortable cocoons of countries and in the harsher bigger world. Every time i’d see a fellow African i’d smile and wave.
Good thing is when I got to the German airport I didn’t act completely clueless when I didn’t see a handle on the doors…Wah, last time I was soo…shady (I couldn’t find a better word). I stared at the door wondering how I’m supposed to get myself to the other side when they was no handle in sight. So I approached the door and swoosh, they open, triggered by pneumatic sensors in the floor right in front of the door. Only problem with these doors is once you’re through them there’s no for going back…and I’d left my luggage on the luggage carousels which were BEHIND that door! That was such an ‘eventful’ trip. Took me about an hour to get my luggage back .
Onto the next part of my travel arrangements for this trip-the train. Now navigating the German train system is a bother even for Germans themselves. Miss your train by a minute and your screwed time wise, you’ll have to wait for oh however so many minutes before you can board the next one. The trains run like clockwork. No, wait, actually I think the clocks run like the train works. So there I am armed with the directions my sister emailed me and enough Euros to cover the ticket. The automated ticket machines, thankfully, have about 5 language options. (Germany had to ensure their systems were internationally friendly when they hosted the World Cup). So after a lot of fiddling and fuddling, and watching other people use the machines I finally got the ticket and asked the lady behind me whether the ticket I purchased was good for where I wanted to go. Ticket down, but that wasn’t the worst hurdle. Hah! I get onto the train ramp and wait for the train. Now, which train should I climb. All though my sis had specifically indicated the train at every 51th minute of the hour goes direct to their stop 1hr away I thought the ticket i’d purchased wasn’t for said train so I asked this very nice old German man how to get to my destination and somehow, without a word of English in his repertoire and a word of German in mine, he made it clear I should take the next train coming, get off at the Central station then climb another from there. Would I miss the connecting train, I sure hope not. I’d been travelling for close to 22hours, my timing was off and I was exhausted. The train comes and he motions for me to get on. Ok, let’s get this party on track!
As an aside let me mention that there’s a huge fine if you’re caught using the Public transportation without a ticket or suitable prepaid transport card. About 2 yrs ago they never used to have conductors come by to check one’s ticket so some people would travel absolutely free…until the day they were caught. Random checks would be conducted and when the illegal travellers would see they were almost being caught they would run. You’ve never seen people run or jump off a moving bus like that. Now obviously you can’t jump out of a moving underground train so wonder what those guys did. Now to combat this, this time round on my trip there was a conductor checking tickets. And yes, I had one!
I was exhausted and the ride was going to be an hour long. I’d placed my suitcase near the door because if I placed it by my seat it would block the aisles. Usually I wouldn’t let my suitcase out of my sight but who would steal a traveller’s suitcase. So I slept…and slept…almost drooled(i will never confess) but I woke up when I heard the automated voice calling out my stop. Made it…well not just yet. I dint think I’d have a problem carrying 2 suitcases because most stations are fitted with escalators, lifts and stairs. Following the rest of the commuters as they exitted led me to the nearest exit-the stairs. I couldn’t see where the escalators were so I had 2 suitcases to try drag up these stairs. As I grabbed the 1st (which was heavy) in my right hand and the 2nd suitcase (which was empty) in my left I still couldn’t hack it. Someone noticed the stress I was soo visibly portraying and took the heavy suitcase and helped me climb the 2 flights of stairs. So its apparent chivalrous gentlemen still do exist what with him saving the damsel in distress :).
Grabbing a taxi to my sister’s and being welcomed by a hot cup of Kenyan tea was just the mother (do people still say that). Let the German adventures begin!