Not long ago we returned to Australia from a ten week stay in Berlin.
It is a restless city. Always on the go, go, go…. So much so, that I will say, ” New York eat your heart out”. The lifeblood of the city are the people and they are not always Berliners but also the people who stream into the city, every day, from the rest of the world. Once you step onto the pavement of Berlin you are hooked. You are swept away by the tempo.
The U-Bahn (the underground, subway or Metro) is the artery that pulsates below the surface. There is no off-peak in Berlin. The yellow trains come and go with great speed. It is a rapid transit system where the word “rapid” is to be taken literally.
Some of the lines are running on elevated viaducts similar to the Paris Metro. In fact it is the oldest part of the Berlin Metro system.
Berliners are using the U-Bahn for short and medium trips. Most stations are without attending staff. All stations are being announced in the carriages in German and at important stations in English too. On most trains there are electronic indicator boards too. So you don’t need to get lost.
These boards are also used to give the passengers important emergency news effecting them. I was once on a train when the board gave a warning that the train would not run the full length of the line as there was a bomb scare and the line had to be closed at a certain station. We, the passengers where able to change to a bus on another station which would bring us closer to our destination then the terminating train could do.
In fact we, my sister and I, were on the way to the Concert Hall in the centre of the city. The nearby Hotel Hilton was threatened with a bomb ( a hoax as it turned out later). Because of the police operation many people were delayed and the concert started half an hour later. All ended well at that time.
On the U-Bahn the younger people are extremely friendly and are giving up their seats for the elderly. I love the U-Bahn and wish Sydney had a similar mode of transport. It is so easy getting on and off quickly. One needs not to go through an electronic barrier to get onto the platforms. You don’t need to rush either as you know there will be another train in two or three minutes. Most stations have lifts now and wheelchair people have no trouble at all getting on and off the train. There is no such thing “As mind the Gap” as you have on the London Tube. The gap on the U-Bahn is only millimetres.
The last picture is from the station named in honour and memory of the Berlin Airlift 1948 – 1949. That airlift saved West-Berlin from being swallowed by the Soviet Union. It is also the station at the end of the street were I grew up. When my sisters and I were little, during the war, we went there every evening to meet our mother when she came back from her work.
I grew up in Kreuzberg and I will write about that in another blog.