Reply to post: Electric Trabant acid test

What could be more embarrassing for a Russian spy: Their info splashed online – or that they drive a Lada?

Danny 2 Silver badge

Electric Trabant acid test

I got on the wrong train and ended up behind the Iron Curtain by mistake.

It was just after the Berlin Wall fell, and some West Germans were being allowed into East Germany, but no Brits were. We were allowed into Czechoslovakia, and not speaking German I boarded a train labelled Praag. An entrepreneurial ticket inspector demanded money for a handwritten note, which presumably read, "This lad is an idiot and he has money".

It dawdled all through East Germany, and by the time it got to Dresden I realised this was worse than the time I accidentally got a train to Falkirk. Karl Marx Staadt at night was an industrial dystopia.

The road traffic was a political metaphor - BMWs speeding past Trabants. Trabants were like Ladas, but coal-powered judging from their exhaust emissions.

I got to the Czech border and was marched off the train by two burly Czech soldiers with furry hats and AK-47s. They ignored me telling them in English and French that I was allowed there and waved me back to the East Germany station 100m back. A pretty female East German border guard drew her pistol and waved me back towards Czechoslovakia. I pointed at her, then at her pistol, then at the two Czech soldiers and at their rifles and then threw up my hands in the universal sign of befuddled idiocy.

She told me through irate German and pointing at maps that I could remain but I had to go straight to Berlin. I ignored her and got on the same train I'd just been on it's return journey to Munich.

Two days without eating or sleeping and I was beginning to hallucinate, and when I finally got to Munich I met the first English speaking East German on my journey.

I heard a while back the Trabant was going to be revived as an electric car which kind of makes sense because it was so small and light it'd probably run off AAA batteries.

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