Saturday, 17 July 2010

Auf der Deutschen Eisenbahnen gibt's zu wenig air conditioning

Mum waved us off as we departed on the the train from Schiphol (airport!) to Berlin, offering a few words about air conditioning never working in the carriage she's in. I muttered something back about this not going to be a problem for us. All was going smoothly apart from the 22 minute delay. But it dawned on me as I awoke from a snooze with sweat pouring down my face that perhaps it was getting a little hot. Jenny said she was hot too, but didn't look it. I took my hiking boots off, tucking the tongue in to minimise smell exposure for other passengers- must have worked because Jenny didn't notice.

Nobody else seemed perturbed by the heat and the Italians next to us were still wearing their jumpers. We just dismissed our lack of being able to cope with heat to being English. We'd picked the wrong side of the train too and the sun was beating down on us. Sitting up straight to escape the worst of the sun wasn't too effective so when some people got off the train we moved to seats on the other side.

This worked for the time being and we were chuffed with our plan. Our delight, however, was shortlived as we started to get hot again. I went to another carriage for a brief bit of respite, where there were other people from our carriage playing cards in the corridor and some walking up and down. When I got back Jenny was reaching a state close to delirium with laughter. The train had stopped and some people had just sat down on the seats besides us. The girl had done nothing but complain loudly about the heat since she'd got in. She was downing water and mopping the sweat off her face with a red handkerchief. Not soon after her and her friend had already found themselves two newly available seats in the next carriage.

Suddenly everyone was feeling really hot, shifting seats to find the best ones and getting generally annoyed. People would walk through our carriage and grunt or sigh as they came in. One man came through a few times muttering something along the lines of 'Oh Gott is hot' and another with a child kept saying 'Ist's nicht zu heiss fuer dich? Ist's nicht zu heiss fuer dich?' hoping that the child would want to go elsewhere. Other comments included 'pppppprrrr' and 'like a sauna'. The Dutch ladies behind us were hot too, but were more interested in the attire of the passers by saying to each other 'this really isn't a fashion parade, there are some really funny combinations'.

I went for more respite on the empty seat in the other carriage, where it had got pretty crowded and starting to get hot. After a while I went back to Jenny and entered the carriage with a 'wow', it was like a fridge now and very pleasing. Sitting down and putting my hand over the air vent I said 'well it wont stay on for long'. Jenny claims to have said this too, maybe she did and I didn't hear her and said it myself, as is often the case. 'Why did you say that?' said the person sitting in front of us.

Sure enough it went off again and we'd been through a variety of climatic zones in the space of a few minutes. Everyone was fanning themselves and the man behind us was trying with desperation to force open the window. Wasn't happening, but then the ticket man carrying a tray of drinks down the train was forced to open it for him and we all smiled with relief. Even better he decided we were more worthy causes that the people the drinks were intended for and started handing out the 4 lemonades on his tray. We were fortunate to receive one of them. Very refreshing, but if he was going to dish them out to everyone he could really have done with a bigger tray.

Much later a different Deutsche Bahn man came with another small tray and starting at our end wanted to give us some more lemonade, but being fair we only took one. After what seemed like a long time on our 'Sparpreis Europa' ticket we got to Berlin, hot but o.k.

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