Friday, January 25, 2013

Final Instalment

ICE (the cold kind) stuffs up the ICE (the train kind) schedule

This is very strange, I am sitting in an ICE train but it is stationary … going no-where for the next hour.  We were booked Trier to Saarbrucken on a regional, then Saarbrucken to Mannheim on an ICE and finally Mannheim to Worms on another regional.  We decided to leave Trier an hour earlier to avoid a tight connection – it gave us 1hr 05 in Saarbrucken rather than 5minutes. 

First leg was fine, on time, no worries but the ICE train to Mannheim has got stuck somewhere south of here.  So they have got another ICE and I am sitting at the station in the train while we wait for passengers from the original train to get here to join this train.  Estimates when we arrived in Saarbrucken were 15min delay – that has now blown out to 60min – the train is on the platform so we decided to get on and grab a seat since there are no seat reservations available on this replacement train – first in best seat so to speak!  And I have a good seat.

So back to this morning … the little man at the hotel gave us a sheet “In Trier today’ and it said the Amphitheatre was open so we walked up there, only to be met by a sign in German that neither of us could understand though we could pick out the words for ‘snow’ and ‘ice’.  I took a photo of the sign and asked some random lady in a car if it meant ‘closed because of ice and snow’ … sure enough!  Bugger, bugger, bugger …. I manage a few photos through the gate!

On the way back we also had a look at the Church of Our Lady next door to the Dom – we missed it yesterday.  It’s lovely, an interesting shape because the aisles are all very short so it’s more a Greek Cross formation than a traditional Christian cross.  Really pretty and some lovely modern stained glass windows.  It was apparently the first church built in Germany of Gothic style.

Back to the trains, we were due into Worms about 5.30 – that’s not going to happen.  Just as well we know where we are going and Lauren has already got the key from Manfred.

Our hour has gone by and we’re expecting the train to leave any minute.  But, surprise, surprise… we’d been in our seats about 10 mins, relatively content to sit in the warm when another ICE pulled into the platform next to us and lots of people transferred.  Pleased we had our seats.

About 10 min after that, they announced that snack boxes were placed at the end of every second car … seems when your trains are stuffed up they feed you.  Our sncak box contained some bread & spread, a tinned salad nicoise, some chocolate pudding, a bottle of water, some pretzels & some biscuits.  It also had cutlery (wooden – really cool) and some coloured pencils & a little activity book.  Shame we don’t read French, but I know 2 small boys who might have some fun so these are tucked safely into my bag. 

While all this was happening, a steward came through with chocolates too.   Nice work Deutscher Bahn or Rail Fran├žois  or whoever.  We’re wondering if the national railway of which ever country the train stuff-up happens in is responsible for placating passengers. 

Everyone is quiet … none of those cranky idiots you see on the airport shows when a plane is delayed, though maybe the little man at the information desk has been dealing with the cross ones.  We’re now at 75min late … no point bothering, we’re warm, dry, in a comfy seat and we’re fed .. we’ll just wait till we go!  I do know we can get whatever train we can from Mannheim back to Worms so we’ll just go with the flow.

Update, all the people who got on before and were probably the reason we were fed have just got off and onto a Paris bound ICE train.  We’re now filling up again with people off the Paris train and are now running 1hr 25 late …. Manheim in the dark – bloody glad we didn’t have a plane to catch!

Hey we’re moving … only 1hr 40 min late!

Day 37 Helen Stuffs up ...

If my only right royal stuff up was today, I’ve done ok.  When we were in Mainz before Xmas, the only thing I didn’t get to see was the Gutenberg Museum.  While we were away, Dagmar organised for me to not only see the museum but to do some printing in the print shop along side the museum.  She let me know via FB but late last night I had a brain snap and couldn’t remember what time the train was that I was supposed to catch.  No internet working here or at Lauren’s house so I just got up early to catch the 7.50am train.

I got the the station with 5 min spare but the line at the ticket machine was jammed by someone who didn’t have the right change etc & I missed the train.  I thought I’d just get the next one and catch up with D&M in Mainz (they were getting on my train at Nackenheim)  only my ‘new’ train was an express & didn’t stop either at Nackenheim or at Romishes Theatre.

Long (and embarrassing) story short, they are at Romishes Theatre station waiting for me, I’m at Mainz running back & forward to different platforms as each new train arrives (both from Mainz and from Romishes Theatre).  In the end I came home & they did the same.  This was all compounded by the fact that Lauren had no phone at home (and therefore no internet to get Dagmar’s mobile number) Alissa had her phone switched off at uni & stupidly I had not got Dagmar’s number before Xmas.  A comedy of errors on my part has left me with a very red face and poor Dagmar & Matthias out in the snow wondering where the hell I had got to.

We’re meeting them tonight in Bodenheim for dinner & will phone them as we get on a train!  Lauren will join us for desert (she doesn’t finish work till 7pm) and will phone me from a payphone at the station to find out the name of the restaurant (or tell me the time of her train so I can meet her at Bodenheim station)

This afternoon I’ve collected all the stuff we didn’t take on our trip round Germany (Xmas decortions I bought before Xmas, Xmas pressies etc) and have packed my pack to the point of stuffed-ness.  It weighs about 19kg.  I am now quite confident I will be able to get everything else into Tony’s wheelie bag and still be under weight.  We have a set of bathroom scales from Nadja & Christof here so I can check as we pack to determine what can be packed and whether I will need to post anything home.  I think I will be OK.

Tomorrow I will go back to the Gutenberg and hope the lady there takes pity on one stupid Aussie & can find a space/time for me to print.  Other than that, tomorrow will be a quiet day. I need to do an online check-in and just confirm that none of our flights have been effected by weather-induced cancellations.

We wanted to take Dagmar & Matthias out for dinner .. they knew of a cool little winebar/restaurant in Bodenheim so we caught the train & they drove – Bodenheim is the next door village to where they live.  Lauren got an early mark and came up on the next train & Matthias went back to the station to pick her up.  A better way to end our German holiday I could not have imagined.  Good wine (except for poor Dagmar who was the designated driver) good food & the best company made for a fantastic evening.  These little winebars are family run places.  Bodenheim is smack in the middle of the Rhine Wine region and each family has their own vineyard and their own little winebar.  Huge selection of wine (& schnapps which Tony & Matthias & Lauren sampled).  We had a wonderful night, and I can’t think of a better ending to our holiday than to spend the evening with Lauren and ‘her parents so far away’

Day 38  Printing & Packing
I got up early again, and this time I got onto the train in time!  Navigated my way from the Romishes Theatre station to the Gutenberg Museum and was very pleased they were able to fit me in.  The young lass who I worked with was on a GAP year – undecided about what she wanted to study at Uni she was working in the print shop for a year… what a wonderful job!

So I got to print … not on the actual Gutenberg press but using his moveable type etc.  Great fun!  Then into the museum itself.  Saw the original press, and lots of other stuff about printing, but the highlight without doubt was an original Gutenberg Bible.  In steel vault & under glass an original 2 volume edition of the Gutenberg Bible and another copy (only one of the volumes)  Magic! Gutenberg (and his staff)  only printed 180 copies and there are now only 49 left in existence.  This bible has 1200 pages, 42 lines per page (in Latin) so to get the whole lot of both the Old and New Testaments the book binders had to make two volumes.  The museum has one complete bible (bought in 1978 for $4million) and another ‘half’ bible (just one of the volumes) which they have had since the 1920’s.

The museum is housed in a lovely 15th century palace which (like most of the rest of Mainz) was heavily damaged in WW2 (luckily the reconstructed press & all the other treasures had been moved to safe storage)  It houses lots of other stuff on printing and has an extensive collection of Asian printing including items from China, Japan & Korea. 

Back to Worms – very happy this time!

A couple of hours to finish the packing before Nadja drove us to the station.  Lauren came with us but stayed to see us onto our train & then walked home

Day 39 .. or whatever part of the day it is
Got the train from Worms to Mainz, hung around for a bit, did a final check that there were no flight delays & headed for the airport.  I love the German word for Airport … Flughafen.  We had to be there the mandatory 3hrs prior to our flight so after checking in we had a bit of a wander & something to eat.  Tony was by now suffering more & more from his cold/flu and would have been quite happy to be shot at that point.

The flight was full but left on time … there seemed to be a number of groups of school kids on board – didn’t hear any of them speak but wondered were they Aussies returning from exchanges or German kids heading over on exchange – whatever they were, all were in high spirits.

Landed in Singapore at 4.20pm (local time) but our body clocks told us it was 9am and we’d not had much sleep.  A 4hr transit in Singapore & we were off again, landing in Sydney at 6.30am today.  Travel time since we left the flat:  20hrs travel time, 6hrs waiting around time.  My brain is too mushed to even figure how long we’d been awake.  Home by train & Ainsley picked us up from Pennant Hills station.  She went off to work, Tony went to bed & I unblocked the washing machine.  I had a 3hr sleep this afternoon and now, at 10pm I’m ready to head to bed.  Insanely tired, pleased to be home but looking back on a wonderful trip.

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