Even though I don't live in Berlin anymore I'm still there pretty often for work. When I am there I am mostly staying at my old flat out in the badlands of Lichtenberg and one of the most routine rhythms is the departure from their to the Hauptbahnhof half way across the city. The route comes in a range of colours and sizes depending on the time of day and how much equipment I am dragging in my wake. The big black beast (roadcase), even though it has wheels, is still 20 kilograms and with it I change my plan of attack to allow any help I can get in the weary travails up and down stairs at the U-bahn or S-bahn stations. Even though there is always at least one set of stairs to negotiate in any deviation I try to tell myself that I play music to stay fit not for any creative reasons or otherwise. Whether the entire city is on another public transport strike or not is also another factor…then it can take at least an hour to get free of the vertical suburbia that threatens to keep me as an observed prisoner for time far longer than I'd choose …

The laziest route to the Hauptbahnhof is the longest and if I do have a definite international train connection to reach in time - because as I have learnt they do not wait - I'll go straight past the M8 tram stop outside Anton-Saefkow-Platz, ambling past the locals and their morning beers at the Can Imbiss (Anton-Saefkow-Platz has everything!) instead heading over the road down to Storkower Strasse S-Bahn. The lifts get me and my gear to the platform without breaking a sweat and the wait among the oversized homeware and hardware stores is usually mercifully short. Once free of the northside at Frankfurter Allee there is always the Spree stretching out beneath the bridge which is good for a moment's quick contemplation among glances of tiny backyard garden plots. Once down at Ostkreuz (the "east cross" on the ring-bahn which orbits the sity) there is the obligatory scramble through masses of commuters and future redevelopment works which are slowly set to change the station into an even bigger mess. Should I get clear of all the semi-signposted right-angled stairs, loitering punks, their be-scarfed dogs and the street-chic Friedrichshain fashion-refugees - and should I get the platform right - the way is fairly clear to the S-bahn that will ultimately deliver me the ten minutes ride onwards past Warshauer Strasse and Ostbahnhof. As the carriage heads on its final leg, the city slowly gathers momentum: the buildings growing in density, the graffiti reaching new heights and size; over past last year's studio at Jannowitzbrücke through the socialist plaza-cum-consumer paradise of Alexanderplatz, astride the Spree at Hackescher Markt and on past the "gltiz" of Friedrichstrasse. Arriving in Hauptbahnhof, if I am lucky I can raise the aerobic stakes of the transit as I negotiate five floors of saturated imbiss and commuter chaos in just a few minutes to get to a (hopefully) waiting train on the Dark Side (basement) of the glass and steel mega-structure. It's always a bit more exciting if I have decided not to make a booking or just jump a full train and an empty seat in First Class and the upturned noses at the arrival of my sweaty self gives the trip some additional quiet amusements. Take the wrong turn or a missed connection in what can somehow take up to an hour to travel, can offer instead the unparalleled pleasure of an involuntary holiday at the Most Modern Train Station in the World. Then, sitting on benches as the screech of train brakes ring out around me, my exit from Berlin is drawn out that little bit longer, as "Hotel California" once again plays out over the loudspeakers…

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submitted by RC, 34 year old male
1 hour, S-Bahn, once a month