Let’s just say the last little while has been a time for a lot of solitary introspection. And when I’m in this kind of mood, there are few things I find nicer than going for a drive. It’s not the driving part. I don’t want to drive; I want to be driven. It’s the watching of the world go by through the window that’s a balm to the soul. Things in motion, momentary snippets of people and their stories, life coming and going in all its many beautiful and bitter possibilities. Someday I’ll maybe blog about how I sometimes indulge this impulse by riding the Ringbahn around and around in a loop. But right now, this is the story of double-decker buses and night drives, up top on the second floor in the best seat in town.
Shortly after I moved to Berlin, one of my roommates told me that he loved going on late-late-night rides, for hours upon hours, on the double-decker M29 bus that passed near our apartment. Sit up top, in the very front row, he said–a great view and a great place to clear your head. He also told me he ended up in a mental hospital around the time he was taking all these night drives, so, well, this course of self-medication comes with no guarantees…
Nighttime public transport introspection: Stage one, supplies. For this you will need: a valid BVG ticket (aber natürlich). Well-charged music-playing device. Suitably melancholy mood. Some alcohol (optional). Snacks, if you’re really in this for the long haul. (Riding the M29 line from start to finish takes 54 minutes each way.) And now you’re ready.
Late at night mid-week is the best time to go, when the bus is nearly (or completely) empty and the best seat up on the second floor is all yours. There are many double-decker bus lines, of course, but the M29 route is a nice one. You’ll start at familiar Hermannplatz, cross through southern Mitte, head down the Ku’Damm, and end up deposited in a suitably desolate part of town, at the very edge of Grunewald. You’ll have to disembark while the driver has his/her break, then re-board, climb up to the second floor; repeat, repeat, until your head is cleared or your bed is calling, whichever comes first.
And the requisite soundtrack? The Chromatics’ “Night Drive,” of course. The song “Tick of the Clock” will sound familiar to anyone who watched Ryan Gosling slaughter a bunch of people in the movie “Drive,” but every bit of the album is the perfect aural backdrop to your night bus excursion.