Gather ‘round while I tell you about while I tell you how we went from Sedan, France, to Landshut, Germany. For the authentic experience, give yourself little leg room and don’t go to the bathroom for 8 hours. But anyway…
We were in Sedan because we wanted to see some small French town, and we did. It turns out that small French towns aren’t as well connected as, say, Paris. If you want a fast train to Munich, you have to backtrack all the way to Paris and pay a lot of euros. So our itinerary was: train to Rheims, walk around Rheims until it’s time for the bus to Munich, which leaves at midnight. Get to Munich in the morning, where we’ll wander around until we take the train to Landshut in the evening, where we will meet our hosts for the weekend.
So that was the plan. The first part went off without a hitch. Ann-Flore drove us to the train station and saw us off. The train was great, and we got to Rheims. There, we couldn’t find any place that could take our bags. They’re not terribly heavy, but after half an hour you start to want to put them down. Neither the train station, nor the tourist information knew of lockers.
With that in mind, we limited our sightseeing to the cathedral, and a local park. The cathedral is really awesome. I think in some renovation they put in lighter glass than the typical fare (but still colored) and that let in a lot of light. On top of that, it’s super tall and not very wide, which creates a pretty awesome effect. This is my favorite church so far. What we did in the park should more accurately be called “sightsitting” while we just took in a view. Wrote journals, read, and generally relaxed.
Then we headed back to the cathedral to meet Tristan, who had seen on the couchsurfing site that we were in town, and e-mailed to get together for a drink. While waiting for him, we observed a pair of falcons flying around the north tower of the cathedral. It looks like they had a nest in there. BTW, binoculars are not only great for observing wildlife, but also for examining distant church features.
We found Tristan without too much trouble, along with 4 Czech people who would be staying with him that night. Tristan took us to 2 different bars, and we talked a bit despite our non-existent Czech and their intermediate English. At each beer I had a bar. (Yeah, I see the typo, but it seemed appropriate to leave it in.) I must have not eaten enough or something, because this left me as drunk (slightly slurred speech) as I’ve ever been, which was kind of an interesting experience.
Luckily after that we all walked to Tristan’s apartment where he proceeded to cook us all a nice stir-fry dinner. We hung out for a while and then walked to the bus. The bus was a little late, but at about 12:15 we were on the bus to Munich, trying to get comfortable and sleep a little. I managed to doze a little, but was woken up by bad Jesus-music that the bus driver was playing for his own enjoyment. (There was also a really bad poppy version of the Hallelujah chorus.) We were sitting near the front, and apparently he didn’t know about head phones. Technology to the rescue with my little laptop: “cat /dev/urandom > /dev/audio” makes passable white noise. It didn’t work 100% but was an improvement.
At 2am we had a 40 minute break. Our next official break was at 9:15. We did stop a few times to pick up and drop off more passengers, and once to get gas and pick up a second bus driver. The second bus driver had a habit of getting a quick smoke break in at every stop, and occasionally standing in the entrance while doing that. At one point this made Danielle, who was feeling the need for a bathroom anyway, throw up a little. Anyway, at 9:15 we finally got a potty break, but the bathroom was closed for cleaning! I don’t know why you would close a full bathroom complex but I guess it’s the German way. With some pleading we stopped at a different rest area about 20 minutes later. Did that place ever have bathrooms. There were entry booths with turnstiles. Video screens showing advertising over the urinals. And after you’re done with #2, the seat rotates under a UV light to sterilize it. Welcome to Germany.
Once we had our toilet break the rest of the bus ride was a piece of cake, and we didn’t even mind that the bus arrived an hour late. Kind of amazed at our newfound walking freedom, we wandered a bit around the bus station before finding the Munich metro station. Ticketing is complex, and you have to pay in advance. A friendly German man helped us figure out what we needed. (We ended up with a pair day pass, which would let us ride the underground unlimited that day.) The metro system itself is pretty straightforward, and we just went to the center of town.
There we found some pretty cool buildings, a wonderful food market, and a restaurant where I ate German Thai food, which was good. Afterwards we bought some awesome cherries at the outdoor market. Our next adventure was to do some laundry. I hadn’t kept up with my nightly washing of 1 or 2 items, and felt we probably wouldn’t have a chance to do that in the weekend. The tourist information quickly directed us to a laundromat close to the train station. We found it to be clean, and reasonably priced. Then I went and started putting tokens in the oversized washer and we ended paying twice as much as necessary.
We killed some more time, and finally we took the train to Landshut. The train was completely packed, but the time went by fairly quickly anyway. In Landshut we walked the 1.5 miles to the city center, and hung around waiting to be met by Andi or a friend of his.
We were met by Bernie who took us to a nearby park where we slacklined a bit. It felt very good to finally have arrived, and not having to worry what to do or where to go next. Andi came and performed some impressive tricks. Then we went to a biergarten with many friends for dinner and drinks. It was a large crowd, and many people were college age, but it struck me how most people just drank one beer and left it at that. The stereotype of the beer drinking drunk German is definitely false. Of course we were totally tired, and were happy when Andi announced he was going home early and did we want to come now or later? (Andi had been running around all day organizing the slackline festival, so was understandably beat as well.)
We slept on the best couch ever. It doesn’t even need to be pulled out to be a bed! And boy did we sleep. We didn’t even wake up when the half dozen or so other guests showed up at 2:30am, nor when most of the people left at 6am.
PS. No working out. We just didn’t have the energy.