Sunday, August 07, 2011

Three places to vacation (6)

Leaving Meldorf took some special arrangements. The day I was scheduled to leave I found out that the regional train company was on strike. There had been no announcement on television nor at the railroad station. It really isn't even a real railroad station anymore. There was no attendant to leave a note for potential travelers. So anyone wanting to catch the train had to find out how it was by waiting for the train that never came. I was told the engineers were striking because they wanted to make the same amount of money as those that were employed by the state railroad.

It turned out that a classmate was going back to a town near Hamburg, and he offered me a ride to Hamburg-Altona. I was saved from grief. I accepted and had a very pleasnt ride with a former classmate and his wife whom I hadn't seen for over 50 years.

I had reservations for a night train to Munich. This train was a train that also took cars (automobiles) along. So before I boarded I watched how the many cars that were queued up drove up the ramp to be fastened securely with heavy locking devices. Being able to take your car on the train is very convenient for those who don't want to take the long trip by car and who still want to use their own car at the destination. Many night trains have that provision in Germany.

I found my reserved space fairly easily. In Germany, it is easy to find the rail car for the space that you have reserved because there is a diagram of the train on the platform to show where the space for the particular car you reserved is going to be located.

As compared to the train from Offenburg to Hamburg, the sleeping accommodation this time was much more comfortable than the concrete hammock that left me sleepless on that leg of the trip. This time my bed consisted of the top bunk of a compartment that contained six bunks. A clean sleeping bag and a blanket were provided. Fortunately only three of the bunks were occupied.

Getting up to the top bunk was a challenge. I had hurt my knee at some point during the trip, I can't even remember when, and so climbing up that narrow ladder, and bending my knee caused some pain. But once I was up there, I curled up continuing with "Begraben" by Elena Sender. There were little lamps for reading that made it possible not to disturb fellow travelers.

The ride was less stressful than the one that had taken me to Hamburg. However it arrived an hour late the next morning, and the announcer related to us passengers that we should all check our belongings because apparently pickpockets had taken valuables from some of the passengers. I wasn't worried because all my belongings had been kept on the top bunk right next to me. When I checked I found out that nothing was missing.

I got off the train at around 8:00 AM. But now I had to figure out how to get in touch with my sister. She works at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. I had not been able to tell her ahead of time when my train arrived because I didn't have a cell phone. I didn't want to call from the Hotel (too expensive) and I only got the reservation the day I arrived from Offenburg. What made things more difficult was the fact that my sister was at her house in the country over the weekend when I was in Meldorf. To make a long story short. I had to notify my sister that I had arrived.

I looked around for a telephone. But I didn't have a phone card for this station. This phone didn't have a provision for coins. So I ate breakfast first, and then I exited the railroad station and looked around for an Internet cafe. There was one right across the street. The attendant told me that I could just use a computer and pay for the time I used up later. Somehow that arrangement did not seem very honest. I am not sure why this place didn't have a card similar to the Internet cafe at Ile d'Yeu where you paid ahead of time for an hour's use.

I wrote Rena an e-mail saying that I had arrived, and I got an answer right away that she had gotten my message and that I should telephone her because she was on her way to the railroad station. So, I still needed to use the phone. There were phones at the Internet cafe. I was told I was just supposed to get into a booth and I would pay later. Again I had this feeling that there was something fishy going on. But none of the phones worked. What was this place about? What kind of accounting did they do?

So I had to go back to the railroad station and find the pay-phone. I was able to buy a phone card at the tobacco store. Does that seem logical? I did reach my sister. She was in the U-Bahn about four stations away. I told her where I was waiting. After about 15 minutes she walked past me and I called her name. We had found one another.


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