Thursday, 16 August 2018

Berlin day four

It’s another hot night. Though I’m well enough anaesthetised not to notice. Dolores not so much.

She looks knocked when she wakes me with a cup of tea. We always start the day with tea. When I’m working, it’s me that makes it.

The kids knock on our door, as arranged, at nine. Andrew isn’t looking great. Rather than coming down to breakfast, he lies on our bed.

Alexei certainly hasn’t lost his appetite. Though I can see the sadness in his eyes about the lack of bacon again. I openly weep at the buffet, staring at the emptiness where the bacon should be. How will I ever recover from a blow like this? There aren’t even any meatballs.

After desultorily consuming some scrambled egg and a sausage, I go all health food and get some fruit. I’m sure it’s doing me good.

We seem to have an awful lot of stuff to pack. Even with a spare bag we didn’t use on the way out, it’s hard to fit everything in? How can that be? It isn’t like we’ve bought loads. Other than the beer, of course.

After eventually managed to force shut our bags we trundle to reception to check out. Andrew still isn’t his best.

“How would a taxi to Haupbahnhof cost?” Dolores asks the receptionist.

“16 or 17 euros.” A taxi it is, then. This is so extravagant. In turns up in just a couple of minutes.

We bounce through the city centre quite quickly. It is Sunday morning, after all. Soon we’re standing with our pile of bags outside the station.

“This is so much fun.” I say.

“Shut up, stupid dad.”

“Thanks, Lexie. I appreciate your support.”

The first class lounge in Haupbahnhof is much nicer than the one in Amsterdam. And they have free alcoholic drinks and food. We find ourselves seats and I fetch the kids cola. I can’t find the beer, though. It turns out you have to order that from the waiter. And I’ve just missed him.

Dolores goes off in search of a paper shop. A minute or two later, the waiter returns with a half litre of Hefeweizen for me. Dolores ordered it on her way out, he explains. She’s very good to me.

I sip my beer while reading Private Eye. Andrew has been reading them to. I’ve got so behind with them, I brought four unread copies. Very handy for a long train journey.

Fifteen minutes before our train is due to depart we head for the platform. The station is mobbed. As is the escalator raising us to the platform. The idiots in front of us stop when they get to the top. We almost stumble over them.

“I just pushed them out of the way.” Dolores says. She can be usefully brutal at such moments.

We’re booked into a first class compartment again. In the carriage directly behind the locomotive. This time we arrive at the same time as the compartment’s other occupants. A Dutch woman and what must be her granddaughter.

Unfortunately, Dolores says something to them in Dutch. That’s a shame. The Dutch can be terribly indiscrete when abroad, assuming no-one understands them. We’ve had great fun with this in the past. A “dooie” as goodbye is enough to get them thinking about what they might have said.

The train is much cooler going this way. I can tell because I keep having to go for a piss. I didn’t have to once on the way out. Or at the beer festival. Sweating too much.

When we get to Bad Bentheim we get out to watch a workman unhook the German locomotive, then hook on the Dutch one. That’s literally hook and unhook. Amazing that trains still use something as simple as a dirty great hook.

After a while the conductor tells us to get back on the train and close the doors. Something about the airco. I don’t feel like arguing the toss.

We’ve been running late, but pull into Amsterdam Centraal just about on time. The station is mobbed. As always. Luckily a number 2 tram is waiting for us. Soon it’s whisking us homewards.

Our flat hasn’t burnt down. And the plants in the garden haven’t died of thirst. That’s a relief.

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