I arrived in Berlin from Poland in the early hours of the morning and caught the metro to the hostel, on the edge of town. I was still behind budget trying to recoup the money I had wasted on the Czech Republic border fiasco. I had therefore not paid my metro fare.
This was despite my second hand knowledge of the reputation of the Berlin metro transport police. The reputation was that they were born from the womb of the Nazi Gestapo. If I was caught I would face interrogation, humiliation and my photo would subsequently be rubber stamped around the underground transport network of Berlin.
The risks were high for little reward.
Five stops on the metro to go. Four stops left. Three stops and then they arrived, fitted in black battle attire. They were a pack of evil and shrewd cunning. All exits were guarded with no hope of a quick dash for freedom. They were walking down the train aisle checking passenger tickets of which I had none. I scanned the floor for the faint possibility of a previous passenger leaving a live ticket behind. No such hope. I kept my head down, avoiding eye contact as an oncoming guard approached.
"Ticket" the guard signalled. I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. What more could I do than hinge my hopes on the pity of this guard. I prayed he had a bed which produced the softest of sleeps, that he woke this morning to the warmest of showers, he stirred his brain with the finest of coffee and drove to work in the stylish of cars. I hoped he had a loving wife with beautiful children and he could sense I was struggling to survive in the hands of his fatherland.
He walked on. My prayers were answered. There was indeed such a thing as pity within this world. I would not face interrogation or humiliation. Not today anyway. I could finally check into the hostel for a decent sleep.
After a bit of a sleep and a bit of time watching television it was time to get some fresh air and have a look around Berlin. I paid for my metro fare into town. I walked down the area where the Berlin wall used to reside, the wall that split Berlin in two during the Cold War. Part of the wall was left for the tourist to take a photo but mostly it had been demolished and replaced by a grass avenue. The avenue led to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, two historic structures dating back a couple of centuries.
As I walked around Berlin I found it a city for which I could get no bearing. A city spread out with no centre. I took another metro train to the Olympic Stadium where the 1936 Olympic Games where held. A New Zealander, Jack Lovelock, had won a gold medal in the 1500 metres. His name and country were engraved on the stadium's plaque of gold medal winners. So far from home, so small and insignificant, it was comforting to know we can all prove ourselves if we set our mind to a goal.