Visiting the U.K. – Part 9 (Actually, “Visiting Germany” this time.)
As I’ve been writing this now, we’re sitting next to the train tracks at the airport station, waiting for a train that I don’t think is coming. There have been several announcements but, of course, they’ve all been in German, so I can’t understand a word.
Someone had said there was a man talking about there being no trains, but there didn’t seem to be any official notice to that effect at the ticket machines, so everyone just kept on purchasing their tickets.
When we got off the plane, we were greeted – in English – by the German staff and had our passports stamped, then we sat down to find out what we were going to do next.
I vaguely remember Kyle making a phone call and then waiting on someone to call us back. It was probably 9:30 or 10 in the morning? Maybe 10:30?
I can’t really remember. I do remember being bored, so I played with my camera.
The plan was for my brother’s flatmate to pick us up, but I believe his car was being worked on? Something like that. So the plan changed. We were to go down and catch a train somewhere and we’d figure out the next leg of the journey from that point on. Seems like we did a lot of winging it on this trip.
We found the train station in the airport and went about getting in line to purchase our tickets.
This was when the guy showed up, the one who was spouting off nonsense about there being no trains at the train station.
He was German, of course, and he spoke in German, but I distinctly remember thinking, “Wow, he looks like the stereotypical Russian man from all Hollywood movies.” I think it had mostly to do with the hat he was wearing.
But oddly enough, thinking back I can’t remember if that’s really what he was wearing or if that’s just how I remember it now. Chances are that he was wearing a plain black, regular beanie. I probably embellished all this stuff in my head, but that’s now how I remember it.
Anyway, he showed up explaining away in German to the lot of us who had just stepped off the plane from England. I think half of us had no clue what he was saying, as we were English speakers. This is probably what built me up to later be shocked that nearly everyone in Germany speaks practically fluent English.
But a large number of people got the gist of his message and they left. The rest of us shrugged and bought our tickets. We met a girl, presumably American as well, and she told us that she didn’t speak very good German but she was fairly certain the man was saying there were no trains.
No trains at a train station? Hah! What a joke. They’d put up a sign or do something official!
Well…I guess sending a guy who made a half-hearted attempt to pass along the message was their idea of official. Who really knows?
The time for our train has come and gone by 15 minutes already. Kyle is trying to ask a “conductor-looking dude” for info. It seems like the train will be delayed until 11:30AM, so another 30 minutes.
My ass is freezing sitting on this marble…ish…(?) ground.
So, I had totally forgotten about Carnival when we first arrived. I kept seeing men dressed in kilts walking around the train station, and I found it somewhat peculiar. I honestly thought maybe some Scots had flown over with us from England. Later, when the topic of Carnival came up again, I realized that they were just Germans dressed up as Scots for the celebrations. (And I saw plenty more over the next few days.)
In hindsight, I even wonder if the “conductor-looking dude” was an actual conductor or just someone dressed up.
If you know nothing about Carnival, you can click the link above, but just keep in mind: it’s like our Halloween meets our Mardi-Gras. It’s a lot of remarkable costumes (they take it seriously) and a lot of drinking and a lot of partying.
In fact, it started to seem like whole cities were going on holiday – tons of shops were closed up and the streets were full of parades. This goes on for like an entire week (or more?) But stories about Carnival come later.
Turns out that after waiting FOREVER in the frigid cold for the train that was never coming, they had all of us get up and cross to the opposite side of the platform and board the train that had been sitting there as long as us, not moving. It turned out to be the replacement that was going to take us to the next station instead of the one we had been waiting for. If only they’d said something sooner then we could have been sitting inside the train, shielded from the cold… Ah well.
2:30 PM… Or wait, we’re in Germany, so it’s…3:30? It’s actually warmer here than it was in London, but not yet warm enough to go without a coat, though Kyle thinks it is.
I’m at Kyle’s friend’s house, he’s letting us stay here the weekend. Apparently, the guy’s family is rich or something. This place is like a three story building that looks like an apartment building from the outside. He has one room that’s like a game room, just full of fun stuff: a pool table, a fooz-ball table, a flat-screen TV with gaming system (PS3 or X-Box, don’t remember which), a piano keyboard and like four guitars, etc.
It’s a nice place. [And of course later I found out that they had an indoor pool and a sauna on the bottom floor (or basement?)]
Okay, I have to stop here for a moment. They were really nice to let us stay there for free and all, but I have to give you an idea of just how nice their house is: he had two guestrooms available for us. One was on the second floor, I think, with double beds, and the other was a spare bed in one of the room’s closets. No kidding. The closet was big enough to be a spare bedroom. Since my brother didn’t want to be in the same room, I took the closet…which sounds so strange to say that way.
And of course:
Nothing but a duvet! Woe is meeee!! Or…well, was me.
And there it is! That’s my little notebook where I diligently chronicled the entire journey! Mostly.
It’s a nice place. But seeing as it’s all Kyle’s friends that are here, I feel kind of awkward. I’m usually that way around strangers.
We rode the trains all morning before Simon picked us up at one of the stations. We then had to drop his mom off at her English lecture and then we got on the Autobahn to get here. I think driving in Europe is insane.
WARNING! Attention Readers: From here on, I think I just started bitching like a whiny baby. So, CAUTION: Rant ahead!
There aren’t as many stops, people disregard a lot, they swerve like crazy… Pedestrians out here just freaking walk out in traffic to cross a street whenever they want. They’re equally insane. It makes me cringe with worry every time I see it. It seems so carefree and dangerous.
Additionally, this is the first time I’ve ever been anywhere that everything is in another language. It is a bit intimidating and…well, honestly? It’s just scary. I don’t like being the one who can’t understand anything. But I guess you have to take it as it is and move on.
Even though we’ve done nothing but hop trains since our flight, we did wake up at 4AM and race through an airport. We’re both exhausted right now. The trains and the tube system are so absolutely confusing that I think I’d never be able to find myself if left to do it all alone.
Europe has nothing but stairs. I swear I’ve climbed so many stairs and I’m just so damn sore all over. [Cheers for Fat, Lazy America!! **Please note the sarcasm.]
It’s only the 4th and I don’t fly back until the 20th – so that’s still 16 more days. I’m already so exhausted that I almost would rather be home in my own bed sleeping.
We’re going to take a nap and then figure out what we’re doing for the rest of the day.
Trust me, I probably could’ve whined more. I was so tired and sore and totally out of place. I’m impressed that I didn’t go on and on.
But there’s always more to come… Didn’t I say it above? I still have like 16 day’s worth of adventures to cover!