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To Berlin

by Tara

Normally, when we take any transport faster than a bicycle, we feel like we're missing out. Today, we were happy to watch the world go by without having to pedal through it. As we hurtled across the German landscape, we weren't pining away for anything except a bit of fresh air.

Train to Berlin

"Do you wish you were cycling through that?", we'd ask one another occasionally.

View from a German Train

"Nope!" "How about that?"

View from a German Train


While we rode, we dug up the Southeast Asian phrasebook I bought over two years ago (where does the time go!?) and have been carrying in my panniers since we left. In preparation for meeting our host, our friend's Vietnamese grandmother, we spent the train ride trying to learn how to say things like "hello", "please," and "thank you" in Vietnamese.

Vietnamese is hard! With rising and falling pitches indicated in the transliterations by varying accents over almost every vowel, we tried our best, but ultimately broke into laughter because we sounded ridiculous. Maybe if we heard it pronounced instead of reading about it, we would be capable of reproducing such sounds, but as it was, it was nearly impossible! Charades will have to do.

Brushing up on Vietnamese

When we got off the train in Berlin, we had that excited, giddy feeling we get when we arrive somewhere new. It was rush hour when we left the station, and we joined in a slew of bicyclists all headed home after work. Germany really is a biker's heaven.

We arrived in a nice, shaded neighborhood, rang the bell, and were welcomed with a smile and a hug from ba noi, or grandma, our new host for the next week or so. After a slight faux-pas where we wheeled our bikes into her immaculate house, and put a dirty pannier on a crisp, white bed (oops)… all went well.

Once we were settled, she fed us ginger chicken on massive beds of rice (So. Incredibly. Good.) and then finished off dinner with slices of ice-cold watermelon. We both chuckled a little as we ate it, remembering the last watermelon we'd had. Thank you so much for having us, ba noi!

Tomorrow, the car hunt begins.