I woke up to the sound of metal clanking and a German man poking me in the side. I was nursing a hangover from the
night morning before and running on very little sleep. As my eyes cleared from their sleepy fog, and my brain attempted to process what was happening, I realized the train was now empty. I was the only one left in what appeared to be a metal tube. I was 19 years old, less than a week into my solo trip, still drunk and confused. So, what the hell happened?
Well, let me tell you.
It was my first week in Europe, and I was taking full advantage of its 18+ drinking age. The night before my train debacle, I had gone out with friends from my hostel in Copenhagen. We met some locals that took us bar hopping, and we ended the night at this amazing Irish Pub ( I think?).
After much fun, I came to my senses around 5 am(ish) and realized I needed to head back to the Hostel. I still had to pack and check out before catching my train at 7. When I stepped outside, I saw that my friends had met some more locals, and they invited me over to make introductions. There was some initial hesitation, but these new friends were tall and gorgeous. So, I followed their summons. Who needs time to pack anyways?
Damn you, Drunk Grace.
They handed me a beer and told me how they had just gotten back from America. They had purchased a junk car and driven to every single state for a year. Every. Single. State (lower 48, of course). I’ve been to half, maybe.
So, now, they’re tall, gorgeous, and interesting. I couldn’t just leave in the middle of our conversation. That would be rude. Besides, I could just run to the train station.
Damn you again, Drunk Grace.
By the time I looked at my phone again, it was just after 6. I had less than an hour to get back to my hostel, pack, checkout, and get to the train station. I don’t quite remember if I ended our conversation. Or, if I did, in fact, just turn and run away because anxiety overtook my body. Either way, before I knew it, I was hauling A** back to my hostel and sweating alcohol.
I ran up to my dorm and grabbed everything. Somehow, I was simultaneously packing, tumbling down the stairs, and taking out my very dry contacts. In between breaths, I asked the guy behind the bar for the directions to the train station. He told me to follow the road behind the hostel and I would find it. Getting superbly vague directions from Europeans would soon become the crux of my time there. I took off again and went to the road behind the hostel. It split off into two directions.
At this point, I had about 20 minutes to catch my train. Not enough time to head down one fork and then turn back if I didn’t come across the train station. I contemplated for a few minutes, and by chance, I saw a street cleaner. I ran up to her and asked where the train station was. I am pretty sure I made a “choo choo” noise and pulled on an invisible horn in anticipation of a language barrier too. There was none. Frightened of the sweaty, drunk, crazed girl in front of her, she pointed to the left fork.
Again, I took off.
The train station really was just down the road and I made it with about ten minutes to spare. I got on the train and a German man sitting in the window seat next to me. Exhausted and sweating alcohol, I made the genius decision to take my glasses off and take a nap.
Cue the sounds of metal clanking and a German man poking me in my side. When I woke up, I realized everyone on the train was gone and the German man had quickly pushed past me. While still confused, a woman who worked on the train started shouting at me and made hand gestures that implied I needed to get off. I obliged, unsure if this was an emergency or a normal train experience. After all, it was my first time.
I looked around the metal tube, puzzled as to why everything was blurry. Ahh yes, my glasses. I was not wearing them. The woman had shooed me away before I could grab my glasses. I was able to make out two doors in one direction and a figure walking toward me in the other.
Even with my blurred vision, I could tell this man also had no idea what the hell was going on. We shouted “hello” at each, other and by chance, we both only spoke English. He too had fallen asleep and was still drunk from the
night morning before. It felt good to now have a companion in the same physical state as myself. Misery does love company.
We walked towards the two doors and realized there was an elevator. We got on but couldn’t read what was on the buttons. Behind door number two were stairs, which we took. The door at the top of said stairs had a porthole sized window, and from there, everything quickly became clear.
IT WAS A BOAT! We were on a boat. To get from Copenhagen to Berlin, you have to cross water. Hence, the boat.
The first deck was full of food and shops. Now it all made sense. They had forced people to the upper deck to spend money and wait while we crossed the Baltic Sea. Upon this realization, my drunk compadre headed one direction, and I the other.
I decided to buy food to soak up some of the alcohol that was now churning in my stomach from the rocking of the boat. Naturally, the second I sat down, an announcement came over the intercom. I had no idea what it said, but everyone got up and proceeded back down to the train so I could infer. I scarfed down as much food as I could and headed down the stairs I had come up with. No way was I messing with that elevator.
This time, I found my seat pretty quickly and settled in. My friendly German neighbor was already there and seemed to be holding a grudge from our previous interaction.
I gave him a sly smile and put my glasses back on. I was finally starting to sober up and could see clearly again. I had over 2 months left on my first trip abroad and had now learned my first two lessons.
- Don’t fall asleep on trains (I would again)
- Learn at least some basic geography