On my last hours in Berlin, I had already turned in my bike and spent all my euros, so I decided to pass the time people-watching at Brandenburg Gate. I had been sitting by myself for about ten minutes when I heard two gentlemen on the bench next to me discussing possible flight cancellations because of the ash clouds over Iceland.
Having to leave for the airport in about an hour to catch my flight back to London, I decided to see if they knew anything about my flight. The men were from Ireland, and having just spent some months over there, we had a lot to bond over. One of the men had been living in Berlin for the past fifteen years and worked as an English-speaking tourguide of the city.
One thing I asked him was if you needed to buy a pass for the U-bahn, as there are no ‘barriers’ to prevent you from boarding if you don’t purchase one. Our conversation:
Him: Absolutely. Plainclothes ticket inspectors are the most feared men in Berlin. If you are caught on the train without a ticket, they will tackle you to the ground, drag you into a holding cell, and intimidate you until the police come.
Me: Oh…wow…I mean, I’ve been going about two weeks without one…
Him: You are exceedingly lucky. Even Juvenile delinquents and gang members don’t dare to ride the train without paying.
We parted ways soon after, and because I couldn’t find a cash machine nearby, and I was completely out of euros, I decided to press my abnormally good luck a little bit further and ride the U-bahn all the way to the airport without a ticket, one more time.
So while I’m on the train I’m like:
Expecting a plainclothes ticket inspector to see me and my no-ticket self and tackle me to the ground like this:
And drag me off the train in a sobbing heap.
I was on the train for an hour, and fortunately I didn’t run into any such persons, but still…
I was in Berlin for two weeks and committed the most feared crime in the city, risking a confrontation with the most intimidating men in the country, and not only did I get away with it, I didn’t even know the risks.
CHILDREN, ALWAYS BUY A U-BAHN TICKET. ALWAYS.