“Eben.” My host mother smiled and hugged me. She wore glasses, a beanie, scarf, stripey gloves and boots, her small frame swallowed up in the big coat she wore to shield her from the January cold.
Struggling to find the right word and ending up persisting with one I knew was wrong, I asked my host mom if both she and her husband were from Berlin originally. Yes, they both grew up there, although she was born in Austria.
On that first trip home I tried to pay attention to our three transfers, knowing I would have to come back to the university the following day. I asked my new host parents for help, wrote down their directions on a piece of paper and prayed to God I would figure out the way back. And I made it! It felt pretty good.
Those months in Berlin I spent alot of time on public transportation, and I often used Citymapper to help plan out routes. Although I prefer getting to know the city myself and figuring things out on my own, Citymapper was really helpful when my route involved buses (the bus schedule was more complicated to figure out than the subway) and when I wanted to find the fastest route.
Citymapper is an app that has public transportation info on currently over 30 major cities worldwide and will put together a route for you via public transportation, walking, or cycling. It offers pretty much anything you could need – realtime travel estimates, offline map, online map, and you can set a home or work address to make things go faster when punching in a destination.
Although I wouldn’t recommend using it as a crutch if you really want to get to know a city, it’s an extremely helpful app when visiting new places or when you don’t have time to plan your route. If they don’t have it in your city, you can vote to get them to start working on it! It’s very well put together and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs help regularly planning the fastest routes. Just don’t forget that there’s nothing like the adventure of figuring it out on your own.