Jaza's World Trip

Brian from Hertford

Brian's an elderly English chap whom I met on the train from Amsterdam to Berlin today. He's a real character: for the few hours that we ended up sitting together, he started chatting away about all sorts of things, from international politics to the nature of women. He's a great-grandfather, who has family scattered all over Europe (and the world), and who's been a bachelor since his wife passed away several years ago. He's amazingly pro-active for his age, and is obviously "the rock" of his large family. He lives in a small suburban place near London called Hertford.

Brian was the main event of my day today, most of which consisted of the long, 6½ hour train ride from Amsterdam to Berlin. This morning I said goodbye to Amsterdam, and to Bob's — it was an uneventful farewell, since the place was stoned as usual — and I hopped on the InterCity direct to Berlin. The train was long and boring, but it went smoothly: we cruised without incident through the Dutch and German countryside; the train walls provided protection from the miserable European winter weather outside; and the border crossing was such a non-event, that I basically blinked and I missed it (borders... Europe has borders? :P). You wouldn't even know you're in a different country, were it not for a change of languages in the PA announcements ("Dutch, German, English" became "German, English"), and for the commencement of the frequent friendly announcements saying (in perfect English): "thank you for travelling with Deutsche Bahn, goodbye". Also, I saved quite a bit of money today, as the journey was completely covered by my Eurail pass, and as the ticket would otherwise have cost me over €100. Trains are bloody expensive around here!

I made it to the brand-new Berlin Hauptbahnhof (central station) by 5:30pm, where it was already pitch-dark and quite cold. I had little problem getting my head around the city's simple and extensive metropolitan train network: all I had to do was hop on the S-bahn for 2 stops, walk a few blocks, and I was at my hostel. I swear, they really do make backpacking just a bit too easy around here.

My Home Town

Actually Brian is from HERTFORD (as in Connecticut); but it is a regular mistake. My son, John, met famous travel writer, John Hilaby, on the Appalchian Trail, in 1973, and when his book came out (Journey through Love) he described his meeting with John Laming, a Brit from "Hereford".

Jeremy was wonderful company on my journey through Holland to Wolfsburg and his world trip stories really put my own modest peregrinations into perspective. We seemed to get on very well,just as I do with my 25 year old grandson, which is the age that I estimated for him in my own journal. Now I've seen the "blog" I am surprised to see he is only 21!

I wish him a lot more fun during the next 6 weeks, a safe return home and a fulfilling career, when he settles down to life back in Oz.

Hereford to Hertford

Sorry for the mistake, Brian — I've now fixed it up and changed it to "Hertford". Just goes to show how atrocious my knowledge of English geography is! All the best, and I hope that you and your family had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.