“You have to exit the train in 2 minutes!!!!!”
This is what I woke up to after riding the night train from Berlin to Munich. I had heard from past CR members that the night train was one to remember, but I honestly didn’t imagine it going quite like this. Our cabin had fallen back asleep and was completely oblivious to the fact that our stop was up next. We woke up in a panic to our (very angry) conductor aggressively telling us we had to leave the train as soon as possible. Bags went flying and coffee and tea were spilling everywhere as we chaotically ran off the train looking anything but graceful. It was truly a wonderful experience. So far, this has been the only transportation mishap while on CR, aside from getting on the wrong U-Bahn once or twice, so I would say we aren’t off to a bad start. While our group worked together to find our way around Berlin by using the transportation system, we were met with a few challenges (hence getting on the wrong U-Bahn). We knew we had to work together to overcome the language barrier and figure out a system that was foreign to us at first. But part of the fun of exploring the city is navigating and also getting lost and finding your way back to your destination.
Just a mere 12 hours before we boarded the infamous night train, we were wrapping up our time in Berlin! We began the day by all visiting the Reichstag, now known as the Bundestag. Visiting this at the end of the week allowed me to truly value its importance, because I had been learning about its history from the moment we got to Berlin. The German government has built a clear dome on top of the Bundestag to represent transparency with the government and the people, which Berlin should be commemorated for not turning its back on its history. We then had a few hours before boarding the, still incredibly infamous, night train.
Some of my favorite moments in Berlin have been the East Side Gallery and Treptower park, both visited on our second to last day in the city before moving on to Munich. East Side Gallery I enjoyed because Berlin has turned the Berlin Wall, which once represented something so ugly, into something beautiful while still remembering the wall and the history surrounding it. Treptower park was a favorite because I realized how naïve I was regarding the Soviet Union and its ties to Germany. The memorial in the park to honor fallen Soviet soldiers was extremely powerful and taught me a lot about history as well. There are many memorials to Soviet soldiers who were killed by the Germans, and yet the German government funds the upkeep of these memorials. Berlin continues to amaze me with its outlook on its history and their ability to face it head on.
But aside from my favorite sites in Berlin, the standout so far has been connection. Connection with those around me and building new purposeful relationships. While the wakeup on the night train was frantic, the talks we had before falling asleep were ones that I know brought us all closer as a team on CR. I am so thankful for everyone on this trip being unapologetically themselves!
*P.S. As a clarification, we made it off the train in plenty of time and have already decided our conductor was conspiring against us.