// Overseas travel blog
// Overseas travel blog
After a whirlwhind week in Berlin trying to cover all spectrums of the tourist agenda, Mum and I finally headed off to Bamberg via bus.
We had covered some serious ground in just over a week as I wanted to show her all the different aspects of Berlin. We had spent time in Prenzlauer Berg, Charlottenburg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg; we had hung out at some riverfront bars and had a cruise down the river; we'd trotted around Mauer Park and indulged in the streetfood and Karaoke; and been hiking at Wansee.
We had gone up the Park Inn to check out the view, watched the semi-final of the EM2016 football match between France and Germany in an outdoor Biergarten, met some of my Berlin friends, gone to an exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, and generally done plenty of walking and people watching.
The bus journey was supposed to take around 4 hours from Berlin to Bamburg, but with delays and some unexpected happenings, it ended up taking around 6 hours. Mum and I had taken seats at the very back of the bus, where there were four spots. No rows of two were free, and we wanted to sit together, so we asked the two occupants of the four seats to move their bags so we could sit. The woman I sat next to was not entirely pleased that she only had ONE space for ONE person, but bad luck lovey. The guy on mum’s left was in his late thirties, and spent most of the journey sniffing and calling people from his phone.
The traffic was supposedly quite busy for what was expected at that time of day, and so the bus driver announced a stop a few hours in, and informed us that we’d be arriving late to our destinations. In contrast to other bus companies, these guys didn’t play pre-recorded information in German and English, or make any announcements in English actually. So luckily I was able to understand the guy, and relay the information to mum. Such information included when you had to be back at the bus for the departure (in 30 minutes exactly). This was pertinent information because if you’re were not there, I suspect they would just take off without you.
Once we were departing, the same guy asked over the loud speaker, in German, ‘Ok are we all here?’ After a five second pause, and one vigilant passenger actually taking the time to check the seat behind him for whoever was there on the inbound leg, he just said, ‘good,’ and took off. For a bus party that mainly consisted of single travellers, this would have been of no help if you’d been waylaid buying food or had an upset stomach and were in the bathroom!
We had only travelled around another 20 minutes, when yet another long announcement was made – again, all in German. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me…’ I said.
‘What?’ said Mum.
‘Well apparently we’re making another stop, which will take another 30 minutes. This time we have to go to a police control point, and they are going to unload all of our baggage and do a customs check.’
‘But we’re only going Germany to Germany,’ said Mum. ‘We’re not even crossing a border…’
‘Yep,’ I replied, as all the passengers around us let out large sighs, and began to call relatives to advise they’d be later again.
We pulled up at a big warehouse and the bus turned off the engine, and within a couple of minutes two male officers wearing rubber gloves boarded the bus. One explained that we would be searched – bus and luggage alike – while the other started walking down the bus in an orderly manner, collecting identification from every passenger so they could run a search on the names, and confirm the IDs with the passenger list. We were instructed that we had to gather our belongings from the bus, and exit the bus with them so they could be placed outside to be inspected. The compartment below was already being unloaded and our luggage placed on the concrete outside in a long line.
At this point, an older lady in her sixties started losing her shit. A couple of people were hiding smirks, and others just looked annoyed that she appeared to be delaying the process even longer. I didn’t catch all of her conversation, but it consisted of saying how ridiculous it was that she would be searched when she has been living in the country for x amount of years, and raised x amount of children, and that we were still in Germany, and that the deserved a level of respect. The calm officer to whom this tirade was being directed simply shrugged his shoulders and explained that we all have jobs, and this was simply a task which must be completed.
After hopping off the bus, we all waited while a dog ran through all the baggage, personal belongings from the bus and luggage from the compartment below, sniffing away. He reached the end of the line of bags and sat down. The officer directed the dog to do something, and again it raced through the line to the other end. After this, we all had to grab our own belongings and place them on a conveyer belt which was to put them through an X-ray machine. At this time, I noticed that there were 8 or so officers, with a couple just standing on the perimeters, observing the crowd behaviour. It was intriguing.
Eventually, all the bags had been scanned and the bus had been scoured, and we were allowed to repack our suitcases into the compartment, and take our hand luggage back on board to our places. Once we’d all taken our seats and settled in again, the bus started to get very hot and uncomfortable. People were questioning why we weren’t moving, until people started to notice that old mate that had been next to Mum was seated at a table with an officer, beige backpack placed on the table. It was the same backpack that the dog had sat next to when he was doing a sniff-around.
‘Aha,’ said Mum, ‘the guy DIDN’T have hayfever. And that’s why he’s been on his phone for half the journey.’
I laughed, ‘So what you reckon he’s being busted for drugs?’
‘Yep, that’s why he was sniffing the whole time. He’s probably got a bag of cocaine on him.’
‘And how would you know about Cocaine, mother?’
‘Oh I know a lot. I’m a school deputy. Do you know how many drug busts I’ve had to do?!’
So we all watched as old mate got questioned, and wondered what his offence was. After a little time more, the engine of the bus started and provided some much-needed cool air circulating around the bus. Soon, the brakes were released, and the bus took off, leaving the guy and all his luggage behind. I can hardly imagine it was a minor offence, whatever he had gotten himself into. An hour or so later, we finally pulled into Bamberg bus station, and were relieved that our hotel was within walking distance, so we could search for a bite to eat, and prepare for a day of walking and beer drinking the next day.