I was very worried about getting off the train in Germany, especially after trying to find my train in Russia. But the station here is easy to navigate, and there are even signs in English. I found my platform on my own, then found an ATM. Cash in hand, I looked for real food for breakfast. I found a Starbucks and grabbed a roast beef sandwich and a coffee. And the guy who served it spoke perfect English. I nearly hugged him, weeping. I’ve been waiting for two years for someone to say, "Would you like room for milk in that?" Glorious!
I got used to being illiterate in Korea. There were always people there to help. In Russia, I learned to read, but couldn’t understand. And there were very few people around that could (or would) help. I remember being told by people who had learned Korean that they did so because they hated being illiterate. At the time, that was such a good argument for learning the language that I bought a "Learn Korean" book. But then life got in the way and I didn’t learn. And after Russia… I don’t know how good their argument really was. Maybe after a protracted amount of time, as you learned what the words meant, it would be helpful. But just knowing how to "read" it… Okay, it did help in Russia because no place/metro/street names are in English. But knowing that Рестаран means "restaurant" isn’t really helpful when I can look in and see people eating. I guess my counter-argument (for being a lazy, ignorant bastard!) is reinforced by being here in Germany. I can read the letters (mostly), but have no idea what the words mean. So knowing the Roman alphabet isn’t helping me navigate Germany any more than I suspect knowing Hangul would have helped me navigate in Korea. I’m just happy that the little icons (for garbage, exits, toilets) are pretty much universal. It has certainly made traveling easier.
Three more countries to go before I can shower and sleep. Just three more before I can relax. Just three more until I am with actually friends, instead of just familiar faces. I can’t wait! But first – three more countries. One more train change. One metro ride. One bus ride. A night in an airport. Then an airplane ride. And then a shower. Sleep. Relaxation. And friends.
Side note: A slightly surreal moment – they are playing Tom Wait’s song "Temptation" as covered by Holly Cole (Canadian!) in here. I’m so happy to be away from Russian techno-crap music! JOY!