Sunday, Dec 4th
We have not slayed jet lag and we are not kings. I was awake from 2 am to 4:30. A very irritable sort of awake; a time in which I remembered every awful thing that has ever happened. Two figures staggered out the hotel lobby mid morning, hoping desperately for life giving sustenance that would revive and inspire. The Christmas market between terminals 1 and 2 was just stirring to life. Cold air awakened our senses and blood flowed to the brain again. One food booth was open, selling flat breads as thin as tortillas with a variety of sauce, veggies, meat and cheeses, baked in pizza ovens. I don’t remember what they were called and I forgot to translate the sign. In my midmorning fog the blood had still not reached the top (to quote A Man Called Ove). Mine had garlic aioli with prosciutto, green onions, peppers, and provolone cheese. Rylan’s had Alfredo sauce, tomato slices, and multiple kinds of white cheeses on top. Smokin’ good. Oh, food. Foodfoodfood. How we love you. We picked up coffee at McDonalds just inside the terminal. Finally a coffee bigger than 6 oz. What is up with their small sizes in drinks? Maybe if drinks were bigger you’d have to pay more than $0.50 to use the bathroom.
Another traveler at McDonalds had a real oops. When the cashier pushed his coffee across the counter towards him it tipped over the edge, drenching him, his suitcase, and landing upside down on his backpack. I felt so uncomfortable seeing it happen that we got up and left. What a bad start to his trip. I worried about him all day. I hope he’s dry by now. That poor, poor man.
Coffee kept us warm as we sat on the train platform and people watched. The train from the airport to Munich Hauptbahnhof took about 40 min. Weren’t sure what to expect at the hbf station: would we find the next train easily, would there be sufficient signage? Sure enough there was. Everyone was walking at breakneck speed, if we were wearing heelies we could have let the flow of the crowd push us along and save some steps. The Deutsche Bahn app simplified everything. We had booked our trip with the longest possible layover so we had plenty of time to take the wrong train if we needed. Found ICE train 536 at platform 19 with little effort: Rylan ran interference while I shouted helpful encouragements from the back. Getting in the correct train car was more complicated. One car in the entire train had an exterior digital readout stating which car number it was. The only other way to tell was to climb into the car and check a little monitor. We asked a military guy to help us figure it out, he pointed us in the wrong direction. We ran back and forth past the same car three different times, hopefully no one inside was watching. Finally found car 31 with the seats we had reserved. Yay.
I found train travel here underwhelming. There was good scenery, yes, but there are so many more fascinating things to see while traveling by car. I cannot recommend strongly enough to please rent a car if you come to Germany. Train stations all start to look the same, and you see the dirty end of town from the train. Seats are comfortable, but not as cushy as Amtrak. We had a table between us and the opposite seat, which gave us a bit more room and definitely a wider view on either side. Even so, we had to sit straight up in order not to play footsy with the people across the table. There are separate compartments you can book as a family or group. Reserving our seats was a good move. There were passengers sitting on the floor outside the bathroom, sitting on suitcases near the door, or standing. Likely they weren’t on the train for long. Rylan went exploring and came back eventually with two half litre bottles of cola to cool us off. His Dr would be pleased we are on the train; she specifically told him no driving on his current dose of narcotics.
ICE (Intercity express) trains have less stops than either IC or regional trains. They travel up to 300 km/h. The highest speed we tracked for our train on the DB app was 279 km/h.
Ate currywurst in the restaurant car for supper. Managed to time our trek back to our seats just as 98% of the passengers were gathering in the aisle to disembark at Hanover, so now I know how salmon feel in September. The front half of the train uncoupled at Hanover and went up to Hamburg, our half continued on to Bremen. We arrived in Bremen just before 7. A man was sleeping on the floor by the exit. Two different people tried waking him to make sure he wasn’t missing his stop, with no luck. Now I have him to worry about, too.
A driver was waiting for us at the information desk with a sign saying ‘Ryland David Shetler’. He took us to Stenum, dropped our luggage at the Backenköhler Hotel, then took us to the hospital for covid tests and bloodwork for R. The hospital was quiet and half dark. Saw a total of two people inside. Again, minimal street lights, with the cloud cover making it feel extra dark. The lady who had given us our key at the hotel was gone, and I didn’t see any front desk or reception area. The same silver key for our room lets us into the front door. A cold supper of bread, meats and cheeses was waiting on our bed in an insulated cooler when we got back. Our room was small but nice. I rearranged furniture to find room to lay out our suitcases while Rylan watched NFL in German. A way to relax for each of us. The question is: will we sleep tonight?
Other questions I have:
Does the guy from McDonalds still have coffee in his shoes?
Is the man still sleeping on the train?
Why does Rylan have to count sheep aloud?