The last week of our European vacation saw us travel to Germany, as Shawn had to attend a work related event in Hanover. Hanover hosts more than sixty different exhibitions every year. Shawn was there for Domotex, the largest flooring trade exhibition in the world.
What do two girls do alone in a foreign country, without dad to lead the way? A bit of retail therapy perhaps? There’s nothing like December/January sales in Europe. Map in hand, Zee in stroller, and it was time to hit the shops. ?
Once the two days at Domotex were done (Zee and I went with on the second day), we had one last adventure before saying goodbye to Germany – a day trip to the awesome city of Berlin, Germany’s capital. Getting there started out with a short train ride from the hotel to the main train station. From there, we boarded a bullet train to Berlin. 280 kilometres in just over an hour, including a stop in Wolfsburg, the city which is home to Volkswagen. The bullet train was awesome! Silent, comfortable, aeroplane-like travel, with onboard screens telling you what speed you’re traveling at.
An hour and a bit later, we arrived at the glass roofed train station/mall, Berlin Hauptbahnhof. What an incredible station this is! It’s built in the style of a shopping mall, but with trains coming and going, above and below. Outside it was minus nine degrees Celsius, and white with fallen snow. Before deciding where to go, a quick coffee or hot chocolate was in order, to warm up. Of course, we ended up at a coffee shop which also doubled as an ice cream parlour, which didn’t go unnoticed by Zee. After all, who needs warming up when you’re an invincible toddler? So white chocolate ice cream it was! ?
With only a few hours to spare we decided to buy tickets to the hop-on hop-off bus, the best way to see the city, with commentary in your language preference. Berlin had lots to offer in the way of sight-seeing. The Berlin wall was an amazing site to see, with sections of it still in place, built round on the tops to prevent people from climbing over. The Ritz-Carlton hotel was another highlight. The rich and fabulous stay here, and the building is rumoured to have cost 100 million Euros per floor.
Zee wasn’t all that impressed though, as all she wanted was to sit on top of an open bus, like she did in Paris. Inclement weather isn’t a hindrance when you’re a three year old super-girl! To add to her frustration, we chose to stay in the bus, instead of getting out at the stops. So once we arrived at the main shopping stop, we decided to take a walk.
Our shopping spree went a little longer than expected, and we had to wait for the next bus. Fortunately, it arrived within a few minutes. Unfortunately, we had to spend almost thirty minutes waiting for it to leave again. We were quite a distance from the station, and our tickets back on the bullet train to Hanover were booked for 4pm.
Each stop the driver made was more painful than the last, as we seemed to be running out of time fast. We asked the driver if he would get us to the station on time, or if he thought we should get off at the next stop and take a taxi. Smiling, he advised that we should stay on the bus, and he’d get us there with time to spare. So we stayed put.
What we didn’t realise though, was that Shawn had made a mistake when he checked the departure time. The train was actually scheduled to leave ten minutes earlier than we’d thought. And you know what they say about German precision, even when it comes to punctuality. We only discovered this error a few seconds before approaching the station.
Immediately, I scooped Zee up in my arms and headed towards the bus door. Shawn followed, backpack on, carrying the stroller, camera bag, and shopping bags too. We flew out that door before it was even fully open! At that moment, it didn’t matter that we had so many layers of clothing to contend with, or that we were carrying way too much stuff, we ran like there were Olympic medals at stake!
As we arrived at the platform, we were greeted with the most beautiful news – German precision had faltered, albeit for ten short minutes, and our train had been delayed! It arrived about two minutes after we did, and I’d never been that happy to see a mode of transportation in my life!
Who says you need to be a thrill seeking, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, adrenaline junkie to have an adventurous vacation? I say give me toe-numbing temperatures, a bullet train, a toddler in a stroller, and I’ll give you a day you’ll never forget. 😀
So many people told us we were crazy to take Zee with on our holiday, but I’m so glad we did. We got to share this incredible experience with the tiny love of our lives, and she still remembers the holiday. Just the other day she told me out of the blue, “mommy, I can’t believe we almost missed that train in Germany!”