22. September 2012
Jet lag is brutal. Spending 18 hours on planes and trains and in airports is brutal. Being awake for 33 consecutive hours is brutal. Having your hostel roommates stay up late and then also wake up early (in the process keeping you up late and then waking you up early) is really, really annoying. Particularly when you are recovering from jet lag!
I took three planes to Germany: Plane 1 from Seattle to Keflavik. Plane 2 to Copenhagen. Plane 3 to Düsseldorf. I dozed for 1 hour on the first plane, and that was IT. No more sleep for the Kat. 🙁 I will be sooooo happy when the transporter is working, again. Anyways, all of the planes and layovers were uneventful. Everything was on time, my seatmates were always pleasant, if not particularly exciting. I watched 3 different movies, and the only one even somewhat worthwhile was “Hunger Games”, although by the end of the first flight, I no longer cared what I was watching, as long as it helped distract me from feeling how utterly exhausted I was. Finally, at long last, we reached Germany.
Sadly, my travels were not yet complete. I needed to take a train from Düsseldorf airport to Köln Hauptbahnhof. Since I knew there was a train station associated with the Düsseldorf airport, I assumed this would be a simple matter. In my fantasy, I would follow the signs to the train station part of the airport, probably underground, and then walk up to the ticket counter. There, behind the counter, would stand a friendly, helpful, train customer service representative, who could speak both German and English with ease, and would be delighted to help me procure a ticket to the nearby city of Köln. As you have no doubt already surmised, reality laughed at my fantasy. Then reality kicked it in the groin, pushed it down the stairs, and tossed it under the wheels of a locomotive. Yep; reality’s a bitch.
To begin with, there were no helpful signs directing me to the train. This was not so difficult to cope with; I simply dragged myself and my luggage to an info counter, and received directions. The truly difficult problems only happened once I reached the train platform. You see, there was no ticket counter. No human person to buy a ticket from. Only a little automatic ticket machine, which was all in German, and had no English option. Many of the words on the display screen were dreadfully long, and I had no idea what they meant. Plus, at this point, I was so tired, I could barely understand or speak English, let alone German. I stood in front of the ticket machine for almost 10 minutes, just staring at it, and trying not to cry.
A short, round German woman walked up to me, and started speaking to me. In German, naturally. I don’t know why, but I thought she was asking me how to use the machine, and I tearfully explained that I didn’t have a clue how it worked. She asked me where I was going, and I replied, “Köln”. She moved in front of me, and bought tickets for herself and her husband. I tried to watch, to see how it worked, but the problem was really that I didn’t know what kind of ticket to buy. Introductions were made; her name was Susanna. She told me they had bought a 5-person ticket to Köln, since they were going there, too, and I could just come with them. So for about 1 1/2 hours, I was adopted by Susanna and her husband. I followed them around the train station, first at Düsseldorf airport, then at Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof, and, finally, at Köln. They were very sweet, and I felt so grateful to not have to do anything more than just follow them, that I almost started crying, again. They even helped me with my beastly luggage, on and off the trains. At last, we all debarked at Köln, and I took a taxi to my hostel.
Laura was already there, had been for about an hour or so. We spent 3 nights at the 404 Hostel in Nippes. The bathroom is freaking huge, and the bathtub, for some reason unbeknownst to us, was filled with rocks. And cacti. The pale rocks spelling out “404”, well, they glow in the dark. The first time I saw that, I was half asleep, and I almost flipped out. (Laura, beware! There is something glowing menacingly in the bathtub!)
Köln itself was just grand. We walked along der Rhein (which, by the way, is disgustingly polluted), and visited the Chocolate Museum, the Dom, and the Roman-Germanic Museum. The best part, though, was meeting up with Westrey! She is doing an internship in Germany, in Köln and Leipzig. The three of us wandered through the Belgian Quarter, had a beer, and visited the Dom. Three small pieces of UPS reunited in Germany. 🙂
- This is in front of the Dom, which, of course, is waaaaaay too big to capture fully– we would just be tiny specks! Not that I have anything personal against specks, of course.
So, I’d like to pretend that there is a good reason for such belated posting, but, really there isn’t. So don’t mention it, again.