Riot police, NO room in Berlin, and a bachelor in a dress = EPIC
Berlin Travel Blog› entry 66 of 98 › view all entries
'Do not wear this in Poland,' My Polish friend's stern words come back to me today about the football lanyard he'd given to me just yesterday. 'France, Germany...ok. But not here. They are very aggressive about football.' At a stopover in Poznan, Poland from a now-sunny Wroclaw to Berlin, I found myself walking towards what must have been at least 50 police officers armed with bullet-proof barricades and automatic rifles. Not wanting to get any closer to the part of the station I needed to go to with this scene, I asked a guy who was standing and watching if he knew what was going on, hoping he spoke English.
What I learned was that two bitter rival football teams were playing a big game today and that the away team had just arrived on the platform, all drunk and singing together, which, if provoked by the other team's fans, could start a drunken, angry riot. The guy I was talking to told me that they'd probably be in their buses and gone in about 10 minutes, so I stayed there and chatted with him for a bit. Twenty minutes later the buses were still there and I really needed to try and catch my train, so he suggested that we walk around on the other side of the street. He nicely went with me, which I appreciated, and didn't actually end up leaving until I was safely on my train, almost a full hour after I'd met him outside the station.
I had told him that he could go whenever and that I'd be fine, but he insisted on staying with me, saying he had nothing better to do today. Personally I think he was trying to avoid studying for the exams he's told me about, but in the end it worked to my advantage as the non-Polish speakers attempting to buy tickets in fron of me had a terrible time communicating and it had taken them at least 15 minutes each. My new friend not only helped me buy the ticket, but got me the 26% off youth discount and helped me get on the right train when I was about to board the wrong one that was going to the same place but at a different time. Good guy.
But that was only the start of my fun today. Last night I'd looked on both hostelworld.com and hostelbookers.com, and both had said that there were no available rooms for the date. In the past, I've had these sights say the same thing about a hostel being full when it really wasn't, so I decided that as I had to stop here on the way to Denmark, I would just show up at the St. Christopher's Hostel I'd stayed at last weekend and check if there was any space, walking to several different hostels until I finally found one with room. 'This is the worst weekend of the year to just show up in Berlin, everything in the city's been booked full for over a week' the receptionist tells me after I explain my situation.
Today wasn't just one of the biggest Polish football games of the year, but the biggest Spanish playoff game as well, with hordes of fans coming in from all over the country to watch Munich Bayern and some other team I can't remember. Crap. I do not want to hang out at the train station all night! After asking him in desperation if he knew of any hostels around that are lax and might let me curl up on one of the room's cloors with my own blankets, he told me that he doesn't usually do this, but I could go upstairs to the hang out area above the bar and sleep on one of the couches there. He wouldn't even take my money.
Immensely grateful, I promised to just sit at the bar and drink while waiting for it to close before crashing in the couch. I was about to take my first sip of beer when the guys sitting next to me started asking me where I was from, what I was doing there, etc. I was glad to have people to talk to, but one of them was incredibly drunk, jaded, and a bit abnoxious, so I was glad when they left to go dancing and in stepped a bachelor party all the way from England for the weekend. The bachelor himself was all dolled up in a hideous pink dress, fake breasts, jewelry, and a floppy hat. I should've gotten a picture while it was still on, but I didn't. In their mid-thirties, the rest of the guys in the party were pretty cool and I immediately took a liking to them. When they heard my situation they quickly jumped to offer me a top bunk on their room that wasn't being used. Sweet! I won't be sleeping above the bar, after all! I was warned that the father of the bride who was to be staying in the same room snored, but I didn't care; any bed sounded great at this point. Definitely an epic day!