This is the little local station near where my daughter DD was staying, in Berlin, Germany. Stations are named after a prominent landmark where they are; so you get the Zoological Gardens or Natural History Museum etc; which makes it very easy to work out when to get off.
We caught Mini Train here; a tiny two coach train that ran continually between a few stations back and forth all day long. When it got to the last station, the train driver got out of his cab and walked to the other end of the train, got in that cab, then drove the train back again.
The local station is really pretty, with a view of a park and lake outside the windows. If you look closely you will even see a duck!
One day my daughter and I had an outing on our own. When we reached the little station we saw on the overhead electronic noticeboard that a train was due in a few minutes. My daughter had a train card, but I needed to buy myself a day ticket. We selected the correct procedure on the ticket machine, it told us what money to insert and I got out a brand new 10 Euro note that I had purchased at the foreign exchange in South Africa.
I put the note in the machine, and it spat it out again. I tried again – Spit!
We turned to see Mini Train pulling in at the station.
I tired again with the note, this time scrumpling it up a bit in my hands, thinking maybe it was just too new!
We both looked at the train and the driver, clearly watching us through the windows of his cab.
Try once more at the ticket machine: No luck.
Glance again at the driver, who is still watching us with interest.
My daughter quickly got some of her money out, but it was too late. We finally got a ticket from the machine, as our train pulled away from the platform!
It really didn’t matter, as there would be another one along in ten or so minutes. And trains are not like buses; there was no way the train driver could have waited for us. So we had a laugh and sat on a bench to wait for the next train.
And what happened when we got on the nest train? We had barely sat down when an Inspector asked to see our tickets! She was a middle-aged lady dressed in every day clothes; no uniform. We were both jolly glad we had waited for my ticket to be issued, as the fines are pretty heavy for travelling without a ticket.
From Mini Train, we progressed to larger trains, and then to the massive, long trains that ran along the main lines. These trains and stations were incredibly busy, but all running efficiently, even during train strikes, since they told you before hand which trains would not be running, so you could use others.
I found the larger, busier stations hard to deal with; I wasn’t used to so many people. But what I found surprising, was that when a train pulled into a station, those waiting on the platform to get on the train, stood back and let the people get off first. Yes, I know it makes sense, but when do you ever actually see this sort of thing?
On some of the larger trains there were special carriages for bicycles, and these took up quite a few seats, but as it was clearly marked, it also wasn’t a problem. Dogs had to wear muzzles; a safety feature that seemed a little unnecessary, as all the train dogs I saw were perfectly well behaved.
The bigger stations also had escalators and even lifts. We made great use of these, since I was still suffering from the effects of my Balloon Knee from the week before. It might have looked a bit odd; my young daughter and me, waiting with the old people with their white hair and walking aids! Sometimes the lift had just left, and as it was incredibly slow, there was a long time to wait for it to come back, so we opted to use the escalators instead. If you did have a mobility problem, you could plan your route in advance, to change at those stations with lifts or escalators.
So we had a great time travelling around Berlin, at one point taking a tram ride at Alexander Platz.
We finished off simply sitting on the train and riding through the city looking out at landmarks.
post script: Rathaus is a town hall.