Coming “home”: Our first lesson in Berlin tramsportation

The duck and I have an unofficial tradition: Whenever we have moved to a new place, within the first few weeks, we (try to) embark on a little trip to Ikea because, in a way, if you block out the price tags, your local Ikea could be almost anywhere in the world! I’m pretty sure that, in a few years’ time, right next to Billy bookcases and Kallax shelf units, Ikea will sell Teleportbas portals connecting to Ikeas worldwide, for those who would prefer to pay for their Lack side table in Yen rather than Euro.
From time to time, while we’re at our favorite Swedish furniture store, the duck and I like to sit back, sip on a cup of free coffee or tea and do some reading (to combat those stationary bookmarks). This is also the perfect setting for reviewing how we got to where we are, literally.

Ikea duck

Isn’t this snap of the duck at the Ikea restaurant lovely? Just wait until you read about how fun our day was leading up to this photo.
Do you remember how we were afraid that we would find taking trains outside Japan utterly terrifying? Well, this is one story that, while not necessarily proving those worries, is definitely related to the feared different experiences in public transportation:

Not that IKEA or anything…

Get it? Because it sounds a little bit like ‘I care’, depending on how you pronounce it? No? Oh well. At least we’re still the same (lost causes), in case you were wondering. Anyway, let’s finally get to our story:
It was a chilly morning in late winter and the duck and I were getting ready for our third Ikea trip this year; we mapped out our journey – apparently the tram would bring us the closest to free-coffee-heaven – and set off on our first deliberate solitary adventure (that is unrelated to grocery shopping).
In the beginning everything went according to plan. Then, however, just a few stops after we had boarded our tram, we heard an unintelligible (at least for us) announcement by the driver and some minutes later found ourselves outside our stopped tram with only two pieces of information: 1. something had happened to the electric wires which stopped all trams on that specific route; 2. the next train station was a few tram stops away.
So, taking the tracks as an aid to orientation, we continued on on foot. Just a few hundred meters ahead we saw the first stopped tram in line. That made us realize that we should have just left home a few minutes earlier and we would have had a smooth journey. Great timing!
When we had finally reached the promised train station we saw the culprit: A truck driver had apparently ignored the traffic signs and, forgetting about the vehicle’s height, made the tram wires’ acquaintance. We did feel bad for the driver, though, who was probably even less acquainted with Berlin than we are (and that is saying a lot).

At the train station we tried to plan out an alternative route. Fortunately, unlike Tokyo, there are just two public transport providers in Berlin and they are connected so that one ticket covers all (provided that you stay within two zones, but that’s material for a different post). My sense of direction is still as terrible as ever (the duck keeps awfully quiet in those kinds of situations, just mumbling something about not making use of the magnetic field because it’s an unfair advantage). Therefore we decided against all connections including a 15+ minute walk and, instead, just hoped to catch our tram line about 10 stops further ahead. Boy, were we wrong. In fact, the first thing we saw after getting off the train was a crowd of people at the associated tram stop, also waiting for the trams to run again. Thus, instead of a 15-minute walk we were looking at about 40 minutes on foot on the only chilly day of the week. So, again, we walked a few stops, took a few commemorative photos (as far as the ice blocks that were my hands at that point could manage), and looked forward to our hot coffee, until, at an intersection, we finally espied a tram that was *gasp* moving! Excitedly we hopped on and checked then where it was going. Big mistake! The tram took us further away from our destination and, after we had gotten off, we realized that, due to the still sporadic tram service, we would now have to walk even more! Fun times!

We retraced the tracks to the point of wrong decisions (sound familiar?) that, as it turned out, was only about 15 minutes away from our free coffee – which we had so earned at that point – rather than the 30+ minutes we had to walk now. We continued onto the route we had previously strayed from, distracted by a moving tram, until we finally saw the big Ikea sign that, at that point, we had already started daydreaming about. We blinked a few times to make sure that it was real and then happily skipped all the way along the main road onto the side road, around half of the building, through the main entrance, up the escalator, through the restaurant, picking up a cup and some coffee on the way, straight to our window seat that gave us a great view over the parking lot that was now wet from the sleet(!) that had started falling only minutes after we had reached our destination. That definitely was a true instance of great timing for a change on this day of broken wires, low temperatures and lots of wrong decisions!

After we had finished our coffee and chapter we could finally start our little shopping spree and, on the way back, the trams were fortunately running again, though we did end up using the wrong station (because, like, how should we know what station to take the tram from when we had never seen it)… I have a feeling that the duck and I will go on many more public transport adventures in Berlin, voluntary or not!
But that shall be all for today.
If you could beam yourself to any Ikea in the world, which one would you choose? The duck and I would, hands down, never pass up an opportunity to move to Ikea Heights, that’s for sure!

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