Grocery shopping by rail on a Sunday night in Berlin

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So let's say you’re in a foreign country, you just arrived in the nation's capital, you checked into your apartment for the week, and now it's time to find some essentials: breakfast foods and beverages. If you're like me, you eat dinner (never shop on an empty stomach, right?) and then ask the waiter before you leave ... partly for information and partly to confuse him. Well, in Berlin, where I'm at this week for the InnoTrans trade show, on a Sunday night in the neighborhood where I'm living, there's not much. I'm close to the zoo (the Zoo Garten station, I learned, was the main station in West Berlin before reunification), so it's mostly hotels and offices. The only grocer is closed on Sunday night. So I went for a stroll. I saw a man and a woman window shopping for shoes, and I figured them to be locals. No, they said, they were here from Istanbul, Turkey, for the same meeting. The woman said her cousin, who lives in Berlin, would be along soon and might know of a location.
Sure enough, a few minutes later the cousin arrived to pick them up for dinner, and she told me there was one grocer open for sure: at the main railway station. Gosh, how horrible! (smile, wink) So, I went to the zoo station, hopped a regional train and in 10 minutes I was at the Haupbanhof. Now, Berlin’s main station is an incredible multi-level glass-plated gig with escalators that would make a department store manager wince. But sure enough, down a couple of levels was a grocery. I filled a basket with yogurt, cokes, bananas, and beer, hit the cash register, and headed back upstairs. This time I decided to take a local commuter train, that took a few minutes more, but maybe only 15 at the most. So in an hour’s time, I got my shopping done and all by rail. Doggone it, I forgot the milk and cereal... I'd better go back tonight!


"Timing is everything," by Jim Wrinn (September 20, 2010)

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