First of all…thanks for the messages guys. It’s really heartening to know you all care. So thanks :)
Berlin was a really, really cool city to visit…but yes, it ended up being an awful experience for me – on top of my accident I ended up missing my flight back to London the following day, would you believe it?? But it could have been a whole lot worse so let’s just say that I’m glad things worked out the way they did and that I wasn’t really seriously injured or killed or something.
My original plan was to spend three days in Berlin. The first day I spent pretty much all of it hanging around Prenzlauer Berg which is one of the hip neighbourhoods where my hostel was located – lots of great cafes, flea markets – amazing flea markets actually!
The next day I decided, rather stupidly in hindsight, to do a bike tour…and about fifteen minutes into it my bike tripped over an uneven bit of road (there are no dedicated bike lanes in the area around Museum Island), fell to the left and as I fell a van was passing so I collided straight into it. Good thing there was a van to break my fall though because I otherwise might have been run over. I lay on the tarmac while one of the members of my tour group attended to me (turns out she was a doctor which was a stroke of luck). My left side was totally numb but I wasn’t so much in pain as I was in shock…and next thing I knew I was speaking to a policewoman and some medics, then waving goodbye to my tour group from the inside of an ambulance as I was whizzed away to the Charité Hospital in Mitte. The staff there x-rayed me and checked me out and took good care of me. I was really, really lucky that nothing was broken – I basically only got a few bruises down the left side of my face and body but most of the damage was to my left knee which had a gigantic bruise and some bad bleeding which has since turned into two big scabs that I’m rather proud of because it means that my body is recovering nicely.
While I was in the waiting room of Accident & Emergency, there was a German girl who had also had a bike accident that morning…she could see that I was upset so we started talking and she was really nice…and amazingly courageous too considering she had fractured both of her forearms and might need to have surgery on them…fuck! I thought. I’m being a complete baby about this – I’m okay really. So that was that…I hobbled out of the hospital straight back to my hostel and pretty much slept. The hostel staff were super nice actually, and made my stay there a lot more comfortable by giving me a double room and charging me a single rate.
The next day I walked slowly around Berlin to check out what I could. The Reichstag was a real highlight (especially getting a bird’s eye view of the hospital I ended up in, heh), and the Jewish Museum was fantastic, as far as museums go. Having an accident in Berlin means you can still check out some of the main sights though – if anyone ever ends up there with limited mobility, you can catch the S-Bahn from Alexander Platz to Zoo and get some great views of the city. And from Zoo you can catch the 100 bus back to Alexander Platz which takes in many of the main sights. I’ve often wondered how difficult it would be for someone to travel around with a disability – especially in places like Marseilles and Barcelona where there are some steep climbs – and now I have some idea: with great difficulty. Stairs in particular are a real bitch…and at least I could I still hop up and down them. What happens if you’re in a wheelchair?
Because I really took my time on Tuesday and was also feeling a bit weird and homesick after my accident, I decided that what I needed was some Vietnamese food. So instead of getting early to the airport as I should have done, I enjoyed a leisurely dinner chatting to the Vietnamese chef who had prepared the food. So as a consequence I ended up getting to the airport ten minutes too late, missing my flight, chucking a bit of a tantrum, crying on the phone to one of my housemates in London, forking out 60€ for the next flight to London 12 hours later, spending an uncomfortable night sleeping on metal benches, and having my wound get infected because Berlin Schonefeld airport didn’t have a first aid room or even a decent first aid kit!
In 2002, about a month or two before I was going overseas for the first time, I ran into an old high school friend who I hadn’t seen since we graduated in 1998. I told her I was going travelling by myself to Europe and she said, genuinely worried: “But what if you fall over and hurt yourself? Who’s going to help you?” I thought it was kind of a stupid thing to say but I’ve since been thinking over it and I guess the answer is that at the end of the day, there will be people who will help you; but the most important thing is for you to help yourself because bad things will happen from time to time while travelling, just as in life, and I guess you’ve just got to roll with the punches.
The Reichstag (above and below)…going up to the glass dome was a real highlight.
Part of the East Side Gallery on what remains of the Berlin Wall.
The TV tower at Alexanderplatz…no prizes for guessing what the pink pentagons are all about!