I never foresaw how getting to London would cause such stress in our morning. Having left the cozy bakery where we had filled up on coffee and bread, we walked the block and a half to the U Bahn station. Unfortunately, we were supposed to take the S Bahn. I had forgotten to think this step through, and I automatically headed us down the stairs to the U Bahn station we mostly had been using while living on Mueggelstrasse. When we reached the bottom of the stairs, I remembered that the S Bahn didn’t go there. We had to turn around and go up the stairs again. Already my muscles were excited from the exercise of rapidly walking and then lifting the suitcases up the stairs.
First hurdle getting to London passed
Since there were no signs, we followed a crowd, hoping and assuming it was for the S Bahn station. Our pace had already quickened because I could feel myself start to worry. I asked a lady halfway up the hill to be sure we were following the right crowd. Getting to London was going to take many more steps than I had anticipated.
Arriving at the S Bahn station, I only knew that we needed train number nine. That one had just left. A new one did not light up on the sign that showed the next two arriving trains. I looked for a time table, but of course there wasn’t one anywhere to be found, at least for the S9.
Looking at the map, I realized we could take another train and then change. Still, it wasn’t yet entirely clear to me. One lady told us just as a train was leaving, “you should have taken that one.” This German repeated that fact three times during our subsequent conversation. To shut down the repetition, I finally said, “well, we can’t do anything about that now.” She then finally confirmed that I should get on either such and such or such and such number train.
Getting to London got me exhausted!
I looked at my watch and thought we should be okay still, but really I wasn’t entirely sure. We got on the next train where I immediately asked another woman for directions to the next train. Of course, I could see this on the map, but the Berlin U/S Bahn map is so complicated I wanted to be sure. I felt sure I couldn’t make a mistake. It looked like we would transfer in Adlens-something so the S46.
We had two small roll suitcases and a super heavy backpack that I could already feel in my shoulders. We were also carrying coffees, a fruit cup we had purchased last night, two sandwiches, a sweet baked good, and who knows what else.
When we got out of the first train, and I quickly realized the next train would come on the same track. We sat and waited up to two minutes before our final train came. That ride to the airport was maybe ten or fifteen minutes long. When we got out, the walkway was completely packed with people, which made me worry because of the crowds and because our flight was in just over an hour.
* * * * *
As we walked this wide corridor I saw signs for Terminals A, B, C and D, but I had no idea which one we needed. I stopped, checked my ticket and couldn’t see where it stated which terminal. We just kept walking/running, and finally, as we came out of the corridor, I saw a sign and quickly checked and saw which terminal we needed. Of course it was D, the one that was the furthest away. Still almost running, we headed toward that one. I was waffling between feeling like we would make it and also just hoping that we would. The flight was so cheap, so that wouldn’t have been the loss – but trying to find a new one, messing up our plans, having to either sleep again somewhere in Berlin or somewhere new in London – I didn’t want to even go there in my mind.
When we got to the first door of D, I quickly looked around and found the Easyjet counter we needed. But what I saw made me even more anxious. In front of the counter was one of those zig zag lines that crossed back and forth at least ten times. The crowd was huge, with hundreds of people. We got in line right away, but my heart sank. It didn’t seem possible that we could get through in time.
* * * * *
I went to the bathroom where there also was a line, so I immediately came back out. I was just too nervous to stay in a small, smelly room with a line. An EasyJet employee was standing near my path back to Cora. I asked him what he thought we should do. He said to just get back in line, that we would make it. The long line was moving fast. But since it was now less than an hour before takeoff and we also needed to get through security, part of me still worried. Another part of me thought they would have to take care of us since they want their passengers on their flights.
* * * * *
Sure enough, suddenly the large man I had asked ten to fifteen minutes prior suddenly yelled out “London Luton? London Luton? Here number 28 and 29,” and he started opening up the gates to let us out of the long line. I told Cora, “go, go.” So we got into the next line and waited there. Finally having checked our bag, we got into the next long line for security. That was stressful trying to unpack things. Cora also temporarily panicked that we left her bathroom bag in the hotel, not realizing it was in the suitcase we had just checked. But we finally got through.
Then again I checked what gate number since it wasn’t on my phone, and we walked/ran to the bathroom and then the gate. We made it with hearts racing, only to stand and wait fifteen minutes to board. They checked the second wheelie bag for free because the flight was so crowded. That was fine with me. I just grabbed my book and papers out of it.
* * * * *
Waiting to board, I just kept breathing. It had been a stressful morning. I keep my mood up, but the stress was still there. I didn’t feel like missing our flight and probably paying much more for another one. This also could mean we would have to drive in the dark to arrive in Padstow. Or it could mean we would have to stay overnight in London because it was too late. I sat in the plane, and my body felt shaky from the early-morning exercise we had, walking up and down stairs, lifting the suitcases and carrying the heavy backpack. For an international two and a half week trip, we packed very lightly, but still…and then I got to drive in the UK on the left side of the road for the first time.
More on our trip:
Single Lane Cornish Hedgerow Streets
My First Driving Experience in the UK
Victims, Heroes, Survivors: Sexual Violence on the Eastern Front During World War II. PhD dissertation.