We Had Trouble Getting To Berlin, Germany

We were having dinner on our last night in Croatia when I got an email from the serviced apartment we had reserved for the next three days in Berlin – our reservation was cancelled. We were in a whole other country at 7pm with a feverish child, a flight to Germany the next afternoon, and nowhere to sleep when we got there.

But we had a secret weapon. Our friend Cate lives in Berlin and is a doer of things. A force of nature. The point guard of all of her teams. You get the idea.

I messaged Cate immediately, and then started looking for a new place to stay. The reservation cancellers offered us a place in a crummier hotel, farther out than we wanted to be. No thanks. I found a couple of other options on my own that looked OK, and dropped the links to Cate to make sure they would fit the bill, location-wise.

“Give me one second!” she messaged back. “I may have an emergency backup.”

An understatement. She had friends who happened to be out of town with their twin toddlers. They had an empty two-bedroom apartment with a balcony, and were more than happy to let us stay. Within an hour of the cancellation, we had a place to sleep.

Reader, our friends are the best.

So the next morning we packed up the car, Fiona, and a last-minute gift of homemade rakija from Amazing Host Emi. It was a hot morning, and Fiona needed to be carried up the stairs from the apartment; I was wet with sweat and already very tired. It was a lovely drive along the coast and through the mountains. We barely paid attention to any of it.

As I drove, Julie and Cate exchanged messages, hammering out a way to get Fiona to see a doctor. (After eight days, she wasn’t getting any worse, but she wasn’t getting any better either. We were ready for someone to either diagnose something we could treat or just let us know she was going to be OK.) Everything medical except urgent care hospitals in Germany is closed on Saturdays and Sundays, but Cate sussed out a service that would do a home visit! Costing less than an office visit in the States! Sold! By the time we reached the Split airport, we were set up with an appointment at 6pm at Cate’s friends’ apartment in northern Berlin.

Our friend Cate is a wizard. We breathed a little easier.

We got to the airport later than I wanted, and it was pretty hot, so I dropped off Julie and Fiona in the shade and then took the rental car back to the return area, which was a remote corner of the airport parking lot, with heat waves shimmering off the pavement. Rental car agencies in Europe are nuts about damage fees – they basically do a full CSI on your car. This guy’s inspection included lying on the ground and checking the undercarriage, while I stood there and sweated and stewed, checking the time. An hour and a half to our international flight, with check in and security still to go. Not great.

“Hey man,” I said at one point. “I’ve got a sick kid and a flight to catch. Can I just go?”

“OK,” he said. “Just stop by the office and they’ll let you know if there are any charges.”

No charges. Yay! Email notification. Flight delay. One hour, now leaving at 2:45 instead of 1:40. Ugh, but OK, we could still make the doctor appointment.

We found two seats in the crowded departure hall and waited until the designated boarding time of 2:15. We dosed Fiona’s ears with peroxide and her body with paracetamol, then Julie took her to the bathroom for a final pee. Lots of activity near our gate while that was going on, and I assumed that it was boarding prep…

Wrong! Flight delay, until 5:45pm. Three. More. Hours. Julie and I raged quietly to each other as Fi lay listlessly with her head on Julie’s lap. I’ll note here that the Split airport is tiny and kind of a bummer to hang out in. We explored the (mobbed) duty free and a (slammed) take-away cafe. The power outlet near our seats was broken, and there were no other open seats. Fiona and I read a My Little Pony comic together – Friends Forever with Granny Smith and Pinkie Pie, and Twilight Sparkle and Cadence, if you’re curious – and then the board switched again. Our flight had been undelayed to 4pm, knocking two hours off of our wait.

In the meantime, we’d been in touch with Cate about rescheduling Fiona’s appointment, and agreed that we would not do a final doctor reschedule until we were actually on a plane that was moving. Cate spent a lot of time on the phone for us that day.

We finally boarded and took off at 4:30pm – almost three hours late. We gave Fiona gum for the flight and a bunch of cartoons to watch, and she got through without pain. We landed in Berlin and got through passport control without much difficulty, found our luggage, and got a taxi to the apartment, where Cate was waiting for us with a smile and a key.

The pediatrician arrived a short while later and eased our fear – no bacterial infections, nothing in the ears, nose, or throat, no Covid resurgence, just a very ill-timed virus that wanted to keep hanging around.

Two parents, a doctor, and a kid.

Afterwards, we ate soup and sat on the balcony, listening to the city and breathing the sultry-hot evening air. As I drifted off to sleep that night I counted some blessings. We have friends who value community, who build enough goodwill to be able to find an amazing place for us to stay in in a huge city in the space of an hour. We have a kid who managed to get through over a week of fever while maintaining decent spirits. We still got along as a family after a pretty wild 24 hours.

We made it to Berlin, people. Things were looking up.

4 thoughts on “We Had Trouble Getting To Berlin, Germany

  1. Wow, you all have been through a lot!! Send my love to Fiona and to all of you! I am so glad things are looking better for all of you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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