Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 78: Travel to Kollweiler


We finish packing, eat a simple breakfast, and head to Hauptbahnhof to catch our ICE train to Frankfurt (with a transfer to Kaiserslautern). Our first train is approximately four hours (the second about an hour), so we’ll be hungry for lunch on the train. We’re guessing we’ll have options for food,but we aren’t 100% sure, so when we find our seats (Chris bought a Bahn card for the big discounts and ability to pick seats), Chris heads back into the station to get us a few items of food. He’s going alone because the train will leave in about 20 minutes and he’s racing the clock. Of course, as soon as he leaves, we find a sizeable menu indicating we’ll be able to order food. I text him right away, but the texts take some time, and then there is no reply.  I try to call, but the call doesn’t go through. I make two more failed attempts. Then he calls me, but when I pick up, he can’t hear me. I finally receive a text from Chris that he’ll just get a few pretzels. 

Side note: When we finally do order, the pretzels are twice as expensive on the train and the selection of food isn’t as large as I thought. So, Chris is wishing he had bought more at the stand in the station. But it all works out. Venice gets Flammkuchen (pizza with sour cream instead of red sauce), Xander orders a bowl of chilli, and Chris and I get a sandwich. Decent, but not stellar. It’ll do. 

Once again, we love traveling by train. Smooth. Freedom to stand up, walk around, use the bathroom whenever we want. This time, we are sitting in a compartment built for six. We have glass doors to shut out those walking by to the bathroom and getting off and on the train. We’re feeling pretty fancy or like we, ourselves, are headed to Hogwarts. With the Bahn card, the seats were very reasonable, so we’re pretty happy.

Venice on the computer and Xander on this iPod.

We are unable to “watch” our progress on the train as the schedule left in our car is the wrong one. I’m glad we figured this out, as it had me worried… our destination wasn’t on there… so a moment of panic (even though they had come through and checked our tickets… still a moment of panic). So, we’ll just have to listen carefully and watch the clock to help us get off at the correct station.

Here in First Class, there is free wifi! This is pretty exciting. Often, there are hot-spots around, made available by Telekom. You need to have some sort of account with Telekom to get a password and then you can sign into the many, many hot-spots around town or on trains. But, on this train, there is free wifi, no password needed, for those of us in First Class. Pretty special! So, we all log on. Xander plays games. Venice watches YouTube. Chris naps. And I get to blog while on the train! Side note: I did one blog… and felt a bit icky… darn motion sickness. 

View from the train (pardon the window reflections)

As the train proceeds, it becomes clear that we are delayed a few minutes. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue. BUT, our transfer time is only 12 minutes. So an 8 minute delay means we only have 4 minutes to find our new track and train. We are watching our progress carefully as we lose a minute, then gain a minute… At one point, our transfer time seemed to be less than 3 minutes. And, a short bit of confusion when we get into Frankfurt, stop, and then back out. I guess it's what they have to do, but it sure is disconcerting to go one way and then another instead of all in one direction. By the time we arrive at our connection stop, we had gained back a few and had a whopping 9 minutes to transfer…. and, of course, our next train… was delayed. So, we now wait.

After our lovely experience in our first class compartment, we became pampered. Now, mixed with other passengers, it's loud (I think our neighbour's phone rang at least 4-5 times, with a "whoo-hooo" style ring). As we get closer to our destination, the sunshine disappears and we enter the fog.

As we exit the platform, there's Tim! Friend from college, here to pick us up. Couldn't have timed out more perfectly. Let the memories and catching up begin!

Driving "home"

Once settled into our new home-base, we catch up more with Tim (we think it's been about 11 years since we last saw one another... and back then they had a young one and a baby, and we had a toddler... so I'm sure not much deep conversation went on back then!) Venice and Xander explored the outside trampoline. Beckett came down to keep our kids company. While dinner was cooking, Kristie arrived home and we were able to meet two of the four kids (one is at an overnight and one is out late with friends).

After an awesome dinner, our tummies full, it was time for some pumpkin carving. Thanks to our hosts for having pumpkins and carving tools ready for us. It's fun to get back into a little tradition.

Carving pumpkins

Venice's pumpkin: water, earth, fire, air - Avatar
Xander: Amplemann, Venice: Water, Levi and Tim: Bart Simpson

By now, its' pretty late. The kids are tired (falling asleep on the couch), the adults are tired, the dogs are tired. And there's a big day planned for tomorrow (our host's oldest has a cross country meet), so we must all get some good rest. It's great to be here. Our hosts are welcoming. We settle in for a comfortable night.

Annie (the dog) is ready for bed (left), Xander becomes a pumpkin, too (right)

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