The Fall of Berlin! there were no Russians this time!
When things don't go exactly to plan you just have to make the best of it!
Train to Berlin
It was to be one of the highlights of our trip - Berlin, Germany. The ship docked early and we were up, dressed, fed and ready to board the train that would take us to Berlin, some three hours from the coast. Holland America, as always organised their passengers for their tours superbly! A short walk to the train station and we were on our way! I particularly like train travel, it is quick efficient and you get to see quite a bit of countryside, so the three hour journey went by very quickly. The tour organiser kept us topped-up with snacks and lots of water.
On arrival in Berlin we were given maps and detailed instructions as to where the most interesting tourist attractions were located. Of particular interest to us were;
A section of the Old Wall separating east from west
The Jewish Museum
the Jewish Memorial
The Brandenburg Gate
Check Point Charlie
The Wall dividing East from West
The Jewish Memorial
We were assured all of these were in easy walking distance from our 'drop-off' point so no need to use the "Hop-on, Hop-off" bus as it would probably spent most of the time in traffic jams!
It was a particularly hot day in Berlin(31°) and this is a very busy city with particularly hostile traffic. We soon learned that you don't expect that cars stop for you on a pedestrian crossing. It soon became apparent that Berlin was best described as 'aggressive'. As we tried to negotiate the map/streets to get to our points of interest it became obvious that the map we had been given was not appropriate to the task of getting around. The area that we needed in detail represented only about 1 square centimetre of a 60cm map - so the details were nearly impossible to decipher. This is where you give up and just go with your instincts. We decided to look up to try and find land marks and then 'just follow our noses' - thank goodness this worked. It is one of the most frustrating parts our being a tourist, map reading! You spend most of your time trying to figure out where you are where you want to go and we all assume the map is accurate. It is advisable to nominate the 'map reader' and let that person manage the task for the entire trip, otherwise you end up with too many opinions resulting in confusion.
The Berlin Hilton
Our instructions were to meet back at our drop-off point (The Berlin Hilton) at 4.30pm where the bus would take us back to the train for the 3 hour trip back to the ship which was sailing at 9.00pm. Combined with the half hour bus trip this would mean we would be back at 8.00pm and hour before sailing.....perfect.
After a pretty gruelling day of sight-seeing we arrived back at the Berlin Hilton at 3.30pm, we were tired and thought we would just sit in the air conditioned comfort and wait for the other passengers and the tour operator. To our surprise, we were not the first back and in fact about 10 others had arrived before us. Maybe they had troubles with the map too!!
The bus arrived and we were asked to board. He and I gathered our things and walked out towards the bus. If you are familiar with Europe there are many, many places where the old cobbled street surfaces meet the new paving and more often than not there is only a slight difference in levels. On this occasion about 1cm which was clearly marked with a white line. As I looked back to check that He was behind me my foot caught the 1cm drop and that was enough for my substantial walking shoes (complete with orthotics) to 'flip' to the side, 'rolling' my ankle severely and me falling incredibly hard.
Both He and I heard a snap and thought that's it - broken!!! The pain was excruciating, people rushed to help and the tour operator was wanting to know if an ambulance should be called to take me to Berlin General. Might I say it is very hard to make such crucial decisions when you are fighting back tears and experiencing mind-numbing pain. But through the pain I was able to determine that if I had opted for the ambulance then we would certainly miss the sailing time at 9.00m........I simply was not prepared to be stranded in Berlin, I couldn't even think how we would manage that situation. So with a deep breath, I asked to be helped to my one good foot and hopped towards the bus. If I could just get on the bus then He and I would figure out what to do. And just maybe the foot was not as bad as I thought.....but alas, it was!
The tour operator was terrific, he organised wheelchairs from the bus to the train and from the train to the ship. The ship has a mini hospital on board, and I was taken directly there, where they x-rayed, plastered and dispensed some rather interesting drugs (not available in Australia) to help with the pain. I slept for the next 48 hours and then it was time to disembark in Copenhagen. Again Holland America had wheelchairs organised for the process and once on the bus to Copenhagen Airport we were in motion for the trip to Dubai. The Danes are the most well organised and wonderful people. On arrival at Copenhagen Airport a wheelchair was available and if you needed it, someone to push the wheelchair for you.
We went to Dubai for Him to see his brother for the first time in 12 years, and we had the most marvellous time....but that's another post. From Dubai to Sydney was an awful 14 hours. It was uncomfortable to say the very least. It's one thing to get on the plane with the assistance of wheelchairs, but once you're on there, it's 'hop' to the loo... and that was 20 seats away! So I purposely tried to keep fluids to a minimum and that's not good when flying.
It is worth noting that our first instinct when the accident happened was to get on a plane and come straight home. If we had done that then we would have missed the most important part of the trip - Him catching up with his brother! I decided early on that I did not want to be responsible for that disappointment. And believe me, once you come to terms with the unexpected then you just get on with it! After all, we were not on a African Safari or climbing Machu Picchu, so the ability to get around was more than catered for and people were just fabulous.
So if like us you find that you experience the unexpected, take a minute to think clearly before you make decisions you may ultimately regret, and for goodness sake, make sure you have adequate "travel insurance"!