Germany’s a country of engineers according to the stereotype. Everyone works hard and makes it a point to get things done well and on time. Nice and orderly. Of all the national stereotypes to have, Germany has a pretty good one these days. Too bad real life gets in the way.
I had just spent more than a month tramping through Uganda with few problems. Everything wasn’t perfect, but it for the most part no major issues. I was still excited to get to Germany. The thing I looked forward to the most was the idea that things would just work. I’m an easily excitable person.
I landed in Frankfurt because it was cheap, and the next day I had a bus to take me to Berlin where I was visiting a friend. Pro tip, don’t go to Frankfurt. It sucks. The bus was going to be a five hour ride and I would arrive in Berlin in the evening after she got off work.
But what’s travel without a few hiccups right? About half way through the drive, the bus broke down. Long story short we were stuck on the side of the road for six hours. First the driver and conductor tried to fix the problem. That took an hour. Then they called the ADAC folk, they took about two hours to show up. They messed around for an hour and fixed nothing. Finally the company sent a new bus to pick us up. After six hours in the beating sun we were on our way.
Now if that was the end of the story it would be pretty boring, but I’m just getting started.
I was in contact with the friend I was staying with in Berlin over Facebook. I had her phone number stored in my messages on my iPhone that the Facebook app automatically saves. Except for the first and only time since, the app decided to delete all the messages on my phone. Strike one against Facebook. I don’t know why, but that mean I had no phone number to contact my friend and tell her I’d be late.
I’m stuck in a strange country with no means of communication with my only contact, no way to start looking for a hostel, and I’m going to arrive at my destination after 11 PM. Not the most conducive time to figuring things out.
After we finally got moving I found myself sitting next to a cute German girl a Lonely Planet about Eastern Europe. Having a little experience in the region I struck up a conversation and we chatted most of the ride. I told her my problem with Facebook and she told me it shouldn’t be too hard to find wifi in Berlin to re-download all my messages. That relieved me some.
We finally got to Berlin around midnight and the bus parked in some way out of the way metro stop so there was no internet available. The cute German girl had a brilliant idea. Why don’t I just call her friend she was staying with, she can log in as me, check my messages, and get the number. Then we call my friend. Awesome, this should work. We call her friend and I give my log in information, but then Facebook’s security scheme made her identify pictures of my friends. Impossible of course. Strike two against Facebook.
Now I’m kind of frustrated, especially because Germany is supposed to be organized. So far it was a much bigger hassle than Africa was. The cute German girl invited me to her friend’s house so I could get on Facebook and dig up my messages.
Eventually I got on Facebook and was able to call my host. She met me at the metro stop near her house seven hours after I told her I would be in town. We got a couple of falafels and beer and spent another hour in her apartment catching up before conking off to sleep. I was relieved to finally arrived but pretty unhappy with my first few days in Germany.