36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 343: Freedom; East Berlin to Berlin


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 343 — Freedom; East Berlin to Berlin
10-Jul-1972 (Mon.)


Downtown West Berlin in 1972
Downtown West Berlin 1972


Typical train ride.

No problem at all for the DDK (East German) transit visa. Cost $1.60. I didn’t have the exact change and so he gave me $.50 change. It’s funny that the first small American change that I’ve handled this year was given to me by an East German.

Traveling through East Germany. Doesn’t seem to be farmland, but countryside.

East Berlin

All of the non-through travelers got off at East Bahnhoff. Then the train proceeded to a check point. The little I’ve seen of East Berlin seems to be built up. Fairly modernized. Probably a public image campaign to match West Berlin. But I’m surprised that there were quite a few new buildings.

* Checkpoint. The train stopped at a mid-checkpoint. Guards surrounded the train on all sides. Then guards came through the train. Checking passports. They are pretty thorough. And even have a ladder and flashlight to check in all vents. Sort of an eerie feeling.
Freedom!! Now, I realize more than ever that I’m lucky to have it.

West Berlin

Aggravation. Very hard to find a cheap room. Europe on $5 a day works—but doesn’t work. Half of the numbers you don’t get and the other half are full or more expensive. The cheapest I could find was 16 DMs a night. The budget was for 20 Marks. Student hostels—all full. One had rooms but was an hour away.

The Mission Bahnhof might be where I’ll go tomorrow.
Good meal at Aschinger’s cafeteria. But cost 6-1/2 DMs.

Went to Old Eden. Somewhat of a disappointment. Mostly Americans. Tourists. Not very crowded and hardly any girls. Interesting inside. But…maybe because it was a Monday night.


Off to Berlin. Yesterday, by train, I leave Poland, travel through East Germany and am heading to Berlin—West Berlin. Ich bin ein Berliner. I like the story about the East German train conductor who takes my American money and gives me $.50 change. He didn’t mind losing a dime. The East German countryside doesn’t seem to be farmland, though you can’t often tell from the train’s perspective.

Checkpoint—East Berlin. Remember, this is a train originating in communist Poland and for communist East Berlin. All employees are nationals. The last stop for all national train commuters is East Bahnhoff, East Berlin. As with my first adventure, the train is once again surrounded by armed soldiers with machine guns and they swoop through the train, searching for potential escapees into West Berlin. Scary. Another reminder to appreciate the freedom we have in the west and that many around the world still do not have.

Arrival, West Berlin. I finally arrive in West Berlin and my traditional task of finding an inexpensive room is difficult. My travel book, Europe on $5 a Day, doesn’t seem to be getting me a room. Everything is booked—this is the summer travel season, after all. I get a room. Finally, I get a decent meal at a cafeteria (compared to Polish eateries), and take in an uneventful night at some tourist club or diskotek.



- - - -