This is the only picture I have from our weekend trip to IKEA. A guy carrying a mattress. To the S-Bahn. My previous experience with IKEA had always been the Minneapolis IKEA, which is across the street from the Mall of America. It is a trip that would not be fun without a car—a trip that I never would have considered making without a car.

But here we are in Berlin with no car and we needed to make an IKEA trip. So we took the S-Bahn to the Templehof IKEA. Upon exiting the train, the first thing you notice is a steady line of people walking towards you with blue IKEA bags and flat-packed boxes. And I do mean a steady stream—if you have ever been to IKEA you know how crowded the parking lot is. It really is a constant flow of people in and out. Well, imagine all of those people making a 10 minute walk down a funny little sidewalk that disappears behind a ratty looking apartment building and continues on a very loud and busy road, over a bridge and along the big box landscaped perimeter of IKEA.

It was on the return walk that we saw this fellow with the mattress. He marched on ahead of us over the bridge, along the nasty loud road and into the S-Bahn station, where he and his new mattress bought a ticket and got on the train. I couldn’t help but think of a similar story of a gal in Albania who carried a standing fan through the town of Berat and onto the bus for a three hour bus ride.