Whilst inter-railing many years ago, the cold got the better of me in Scandinavia.
Earlier on the same trip, Pier-Paolo, an Italian I’d met in Oslo, had asked me to go stay with him and his family in Rome. I had said it was too far from Finland, which was where I was heading. A few weeks later, I decided to take up his invitation. Looking forward to the warmth, I headed south.
On the way to Rome, I stopped in Munich, my first time in Germany. The tourist office – a good option in those pre-internet days – pointed me to the nearest hostel with available beds.
On my way to the hostel, I found myself accompanied by schoolchildren and their teachers looking for the same place. A bus journey and trek through suburbia brought us to a load of oversized tents, which made up the makeshift hostel. I was to be there for one night – my options and finances were limited anyway – so I decided to stay.
Check-in was simple. The receptionist gave me sheets, a pillow, a blanket and a tracing-paper thin mat for my mattress. It was only one night, I reassured myself.
The place was fairly jolly, populated by a merry crowd taking part in various festivities. As the evening wore on, I called it a night. It had been a long day of train travel. I found my room (an empty space in one of the tents) and settled down on the hard floor cushioned by the standard issue non-existent mat. The music continued outside. And continued and continued. It must have been about 3am when it started to die down.
The following day, I shook off my tiredness by looking around old Munich then headed south. I did eventually get to Rome and to stay with Pier-Paolo and his family. The telling of the rest of that trip will have to wait for another day.
Decades later, I’m back in Germany. Much has happened between then and now. A focus of German re-unification was Berlin, which, appropriately, is where I’ve come now, for the first time.