The bahn of Berlin

February 17, 2012 § 10 Comments

A massive train station. I love the modern design look of it! Berlin Hauptbahnof. Dec 21, 2011.

Berlin was one of the city I had been wanting to see for a long time, for its trendy design scene and, of course, a piece of history. From what I know about German design philosophy, I expected everything in Germany would be highly efficient with easy-to-read instructions. However, it turned out to be a little surprise.

After 2 hours from Dresden, the train slowly pulled into the Berlin Hauptbahnof. Looking at the light filled station, I’was so excited that I’ve arrived in Berlin at last! I knew I need to go to Alexanderplatz, but I didn’t know which train I need. I thought, the German must have designed a user friendly map. I’ve always been good with reading maps and direction, so I wasn’t worried until I saw the map…… Holy Jesus. It looked like multiple layers of spider web laying on top of each other. I made the mistake as most other tourists did: assuming we have arrived on the outer edge of the subway area. You know in a lot of cities, how the long distant trains don’t really stop in the heart of the city? So it took me a good 5 mins to locate myself, while panicking inside thinking “crap crap crap, where the hell am I?”

But the fun didn’t stop just because you found out you were in the middle of the map. There were 4 lines passing through and all going to Alexanderplatz. I started to trance the line to the end, got confused, went back, traced again. Followed the dark blue line, to the end, no numbers… started again, the purple ended at S75, but so did the orchid one! Which one was S75? The dark red didn’t have numbers we well, was it the U2 or the S9 on the legend? But seriously, could you tell which one was a slightly brighter shade of red…

I asked someone who was looking at the map, and she wasn’t sure which one I should take too… At the end, I went to the ticket office, bought a weekly pass and asked which platform and train I should take to Alexanderplatz. The man kindly adviced me to go to platform 5. Then I figured out, all 4 trains passing through would stop on the same platform, I couldn’t get it wrong.

I always think of how Cate Blanchette said it in the movie "Hannah". Alexanderplatz. Dec 21, 2011.

Interior of a retro looking U2 train. Berlin. Dec 21, 2011.

After another transfer, I took a seat and started looking around the rather “retro” interior. I really like the pattern on the winder actually, but not so much with the horrible looking “video” sticker. The blue sticker with a white cross and a white L is a little mysterious to me. Then I wanted to check the map and make sure to get off at the right station. Now, where’s the map?

Let's see where to get off.........

For the love of God, I know you Germans are tall, but sticking a little map on the ceiling…… seriously? Who the hell can read those mini-tinsy words? At least, not me, standing at 5 feet dead.


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§ 10 Responses to The bahn of Berlin

  • What a lot of fun and games 😉 Look forward to hearing how you got on in Berlin once you mastered the transport system.

    • Katharine says:

      haha, actually the map is the only flaw. the transportation system is awesome and very convenient! I LOVE Berlin, especially some part of it looks/smells/feels like Brooklyn (New York), where I loved for 5 years before.

  • You and I have the same problem – vertically challenged! I’ve used the subways in NYC & Paris but Berlin’s is something else! Can’t wait for your next adventure!

  • viveka says:

    Berlin .. one of my favorite cities in the world – and with Germans being German. They are maybe not very open minded for other’s needs – got lost there too. Paris Metro has the best route maps in the world – you press on the button where you want to – and lights are flashing where to change, if need so. No very found of Paris, but that they got right.
    Have a great weekend – and thanks for visiting me blog.

    • Katharine says:

      Thanks for letting me know that the Paris metro has such a great map system. I’ve been there few years back, but didn’t notice an interactive map you described. I’m guessing it’s new. I really love it when people thought about the problem then redesign it and make it more user friendly. That extra mile just shows that they truly care about their service / products.

      • viveka says:

        To be honest .. haven’t been in the Metro for years neither – last time I was in Paris was a couple of years ago – we use our feet’s and my Garmin. Maybe they are not there anymore. It was brilliant set up, but they maybe changed it. Berlin is such tourist friendly city otherwise – don’t understand why they slipped up with U-bahn. Buses where much easier.

  • Stevie D says:

    Hoping to get to Berlin later this year so good to read your piece. Luckily,I’m 6ft4.

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