I returned from visiting my mother and returned the bike to Radstation. They don't work Saturdays and Sundays (Today is Saturday), but have figured out a convenient way of returning the bicycle and securely leaving the key even when no-on is in the store. Ingenious !
That leaves me just over two hours to pack, work on a newly arrived translation, and walk over to the train station.
What does the Dalai Lama say?
Seek the company of positive people.
And that's what I'm doing today !
The first train brings me to Hole-in-the-Wall or whatever the place is called where I have to wait 52 minutes for the connecting train. Oh Joy. Highlights of the LONG stay: This trainstation doesn't even have a loo (They used to have one, but like in many small towns in Germany the permanently CLOSED the Station house), and there are NO restaurants discernible anywhere,so I'm re-enacting one of Patti Smith's fabulous songs: Pissin in river, watching it rise.
Of course, as Unluck would have it, I'm travelling through rural Germany by train ON A WEEKEND. So what?, you ask? It means that one has to be prepared for the Men Travelers: Imagine a group of ~10 German men with 2 German cases of beer (about 2 48 packs in North-American terms). You can imagine the rest.
Yes, there are two of those groups present and they are also waiting for a train.
I walk to the far side of the platform to be able to get into the train as far as possible from them. While doing that I see some travel-related quotes of a few famous people:
This last one is particularly relevant in these recent days of global (not really, just in the West) paranoia:
Anyhoo, remember I was walking to the other end of the platform to get away from the guys with the case of beer?
BAD MOVE. Because what I didn't realize that there is something MUCH worse than 10 guys with a case of beer. Try 15 women drinking cheap bubbly out of those red beer cups. Apparently it involves a very soon to be bride and all her girlfriends getting hammered in the train to somewhere AND trying to sell cheap trinkets to the other passengers to subsidize further boozing at their destination.OMFG. Right now I would LOVE to have the power to turn these drunk screaming white-trash bitches into nice quiet and peaceful Muslim women in full body veils. (Sorry,I REFUSE to use politically correct language to describe White Trash).
Thankfully they leave the train in a town FAMOUS as THE drinking hotspot for these kinds of 'gatherings' and the train is quiet again.
Just after I have checked in to the hotel, I get an e-mail from this morning's hotel, inquiring whether there is a chance that it was me who key-napped their bicycle garage key. MERDE ! Of course, it was me, LOL. MERDE ! MERDE ! A quick check reveals that all postal services are CLOSED here at 2 pm on a Saturday. Open on Sunday? Are you kidding? LOL! So I promise to mail that key back to the hotel from Cologne on Monday morning. I refrain from asking whether they want Turkish stamps on an envelope from Istanbul.
4 pm. This part of Germany is a tourist region, so the hotel had advertised free bike letting to hotel guests. Of course, they didn't expect that someone would request one 'in the depth of winter' as they put it, but they make one ready for me anyway. NO, it has neither a battery nor a motor, but it'll have to do.
When I'm happily rolling down a steep 2 km hill on the way to my destination, I all of a sudden realize that I will have to pedal UP this hill later tonight. Somehow. But I won't be sober by then, so maybe will make it easier?
I'm meeting friends here. I've only met them 3 times before today. Once in Phnom Penh, once in Saigon, and the last time here at their home last September or October. But some people you just know right away that you get along with them.
And as sometimes seems to be the case when drinking and having fun with good friends, the camera gets forgotten.
I start cycling back home at around 11:30 pm. I'm DRUNK and it's about 2 degrees Celsius outside. And there is THAT HILL. Being drunk probably helps me in not minding the hardship of this journey, LOL.
Any remnants of headaches are SWEPT away by what I discover in the breakfast buffet next. Croissants and HOMEMADE black-currant jelly. OMG, what a way to wake up, LOL
|Hang on! Am I drunk? Is my camera drunk?|
There is a strange thing about the coming train journey. For the first time ever,I bought a 1st class German train ticket. OMG, Have I gone Posh? Naaah, that's just not me. The main reason is that I want to avoid all those drunk retards with their cases of beer and bottles of pink champagne on today's 3.5 hour train journey. Because it's Sunday today and they will return home to their wives and boyfriends and will try to attempt to celebrate in alcohol their last glorious moments of what they perceive as freedom. On the train. With me in it.
But them's not going 1st class, n'est ce pas? ;-)
I also feel I can justify the expense by yesterday's bike riding. I saved more in taxi money than I spent extra today on my 1st class train ticket !
The train changes direction at Brilon Wald, another one of those tiny placesWhen I look out the window, I see yet another group of Beer Men . Only these guys don't have a case of beer; they actually brought a small keg. Thank God they are on a different train, LOL
On the train, the loo was locked. Apparently they do that quite often because it is easier than emptying the loo tanks. There is another 45 minute layover in another blank-spot-on-the-map town by the name of Olsberg. German Rail invested a lot of money to build the coin operated loo shown below. But there is a problem. NO, I DO have the necessary coins. Either someone died in there OR German Rail can't be bothered to perform maintenance or cleaning because that RED LIGHT remains red for 45 minutes. There are bushes next to a public school right across the square though.Waiting Waiting Waiting
I must look foreign because people keep staring at me ;-)
I check in to the Hotel 3 Koenige (3 Kings) around 4 and like the last time was here, I tell the fabulous owner (imagine a gay intellectual dressed in the Parisian style with the typical Cologne wit and accent) that he can hoist the 4th crown on his sign because the 4th king arrived. Like at the time of my Spare Mom's funeral 2 years ago, I don't get to go to my room for more than 10 minutes because he is just such a hoot to talk to. And he gives me a coffee cup to use as an ashtray in my room because he "Won't let any WASPs dictate him how to run HIS house". Gotta Love the Cologne spirit, LOL.
On the way from the hotel to the restaurant I notice it again. The Vibe. Cologne has in abundance what Vancouver is lacking completely. It's impossible NOT to relax and smile here. Call it a place favourable to a good Chi, lol. Too bad I'm AGAIN pressured for time on this trip. But then I shouldn't complain; I'm flying to Constantinople tomorrow ;-)
The Chinese restaurant I ate Chicken&Dried Fish Fried Rice in last time is no longer there, I find another one using Google Maps, but on the way there am side-tracked into a Thai Restaurant. I'll be honest: It was the Grauburgunder wine on the outside menu that did it. The food is not TOO bad (pre-cooked chicken in the curry again) but the curry is fabulous and the place is almost exclusively populated by Asians.
The presumably Japanese at the next table complain to the waitress that they can't get any Koelsch Beer in this restaurant. WE CAME ALL THE WAY FROM FRANKFURT FOR A KOELSCH BEER, they exclaim.
It is Sunday. That means I'll be doing my shopping at the extremely nearby Central Station. Then I remember that I walked by a Kiosk selling snacks, booze, and cigarettes, which is all I wanted to buy at the train station anyway. And the Kiosk was OPEN. The owners are Turkish, which resonates well with my flight tomorrow ;-)
Instead of a 'cheap' French wine for 12.90 Euros, I just go for the MUMM EXTRA DRY sparkling wine that Spare Mom used to drink all the time (at 13.50 Euros). There are SOME traditions that should be upheld (can you tell I had some already? LOL).
8 pm. NEWS. A very good and long-time friend of mine (the one I just met last week) is getting married ! I am surprised and exhilarated at the same time at how happy I feel for him. (NOT my pics)
It's a busy day ! I finally get off the phone with flighthub because they charged travel insurance for a flight I bought for an in-law. Flighthub even has a separate menu option for that on their call-in line. That says it all
I don't sleep well. NO, it's not the lingering layers of cigarette smoke in the room air The friggin phone keeps ringing repeatedly through the night (1 am until 4 am). It's North American numbers calling AND German ones !?! When I start answering, all I get is silence at the other end. Good thing I'm not Grandma. She'd instantly get her truncheon ready for the inevitable onslaught of evil-doers, LOL.
At 9:30 am I have been to the post office inside the Central Station to mail the bloody garage key that I abducted in the Hotel 2 days ago ;-)
Germans are starting to bug me, even the otherwise liberal and well-read hotel owner. "Are you going to Istanbul voluntarily?", he asks me. Racism against the more than 3 Million Turks living in Germany has taken on bizarre forms.
10:30 am. Time to head to the Central Train Station.