On this day we are making our way to my friend Bjoern’s place in Western Germany. We met while he was a grad student at Texas A&M and he was hosting us for a week or so at his apartment.
Ack! (as Bill the Cat would say). The day started off badly – we should’ve taken it as a warning. At 5:30 AM a very loud radio alarm goes off. Then, a verbal fight ensues in some other apartment. The stifling heat &noise kept us up. We take our time, though, thinking we would catch a 10:30 AM train to Koln from Le Gare du Nord.
Upon arriving, we find out that train would not arrive in Koln till around 4 PM and that it would be a TGV, thereby costing us more. We also find out that we would have to pay to go through Belgium. Dave & I wanted to use our EuroPasses but neither of us had a pass through Belgium.
After being sent to another line, we make the decision to go on straight to Bochum [where Bjoern lived]. Yes, they have a ticket straight there that arrives at 10:56 PM! Yikes. It left at 4:34 PM. It was only 10:30 AM.
O.K. So there we were. We were prisoners because of our luggage and had really no choice but to suffer in the un-air conditioned train station for 6 hours. Then be on a train for another 6 1/2 hours. Don’t break out the violin yet. Our train time finally arrives and we get on, I ask Dave to ask and make sure we could get on the wagon we had chosen and with only 13 minutes to spare, we find out that we still needed a ticket through Belgium!
Dave hurries off to the ticket booth, I begin to panic thinking that after 6 hours of waiting, we would miss our train. With 2 minutes to spare, Dave runs back fuming and tells me we can buy it while on the train. Ack!
We jump on and comment on how nice the seats are. Getting comfortable, we show our EuroPasses and proceed to purchase those damn tickets [for Belgium]. In the process, we also find out that we were in 1st class. Oops. She [the train conductor checking tickets] just told us to change at the 1st station.
Thinking we had actually found some luck, we begin to notice the lack of A/C. Hmm…
Changing over to 2nd class seemed to be our change in luck as well. We had a cabin to ourselves and we met a German girl (Melanie) who had been living in Miami and was now going home to Essens (the stop right before Bochum).
We finally arrive (half an hour late) and Bjoern is waiting. We drop our luggage off at Bjoern’s & go into the center for some beer. We all have dark “alt” and fill our stomachs with a bratwurst which Bjoern claims is the best anywhere.
Come home [Bjoern’s apartment] exhausted and fall asleep quicker than ever.