Venice – here I come. And no need to worry about Lufthansa stranding me for the moment. I do have train changes in Stuttgart & Muenchen, then the long run to Italy. My hotel is already paid and an easy walk from the train station.
The above was written with optimism on the 12th …
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13 Nov 2015 – Friday the 13th
I should have realized when I booked my train journey last month that Friday, the 13th is not just a superstition. Looking at the connections – I picked the options that offered the fewest changes. No train changes in Italy at all – I know much better than that. Dealing with a country that considers old stairs and lack of escalators/elevators the norm and routine obstacles that should be overcome by anyone is not my idea of a good time while hauling a suitcase.
So – Friday the 13th.
With my usual minimal amount of sleep the night before a journey I ventured out and down the elevator from my house secure in the knowledge that I had all my possessions, a warm hand knitted hat, gloves, IDs, train tickets and plenty of time to get to the train station. I considered taking the Strassenbahn, but why vary my routine. The walk isn’t all that far and the sun was going to come up prior to passing the troll under the bridge portion of my journey.
My train arriving a few minutes late should have sent a prickle of foreboding through me. It failed to alert me even by obviously hammering on my head until 15 minutes after boarding when our train came to a complete stop. Work on the tracks and a technical signal problem.
End result was almost 20 minutes which was more than enough to miss my train in Stuttgart. Since the announcement informed me that the next train to Munich was in just a few minutes on the other side of the platform I just assumed that forward progress was better than none. To my surprise (not) the arriving train via Mannheim was 8 minutes late as well as being the alternate route to Munich. Pulling the schedule out of my envelope – this train would also connect to the Venedig train albeit with much less time; eleven minutes at best. That eleven minutes started to see a bit concerning when we were ten minutes late leaving Ulm.
Maybe I wasn’t the only one who was worried. The helpful conductor checked and said that we should arrive in time to make my connection. Surprisingly, we had made up those 10 minutes by the Munich main station attiring on track 18. Since my connection was on Track 15, it was only a short dash toward the right and two platforms over. Even better, my car was right there at the end.
With a reservation, I wasn’t worried about a seat. Four people already in the compartment slowed me down for a second. One was a woman who now lived up in the Alps and was exiting the train at the last stop prior to crossing in into Austria. She had boarded a connecting train in Dortmund that morning on her way home from visiting elderly relatives. The couple was from Aschafenburg along with their slightly older aunt. It was her 60th birthday, the couples 25th anniversary. The three were headed to Venice for a weekend of music and opera as a celebration. The Champaign came out, along with various lovely snacks as we traveled along.
The older (but younger than me) woman had just retired. The couple was taking two of their precious vacation days in celebration. He works for a Dutch firm and has the minimum of allowable vacation days per year; she is normally held to the school schedule. It was an absolutely lovely time with subjects ranging over weekend trips to the challenges of dealing with the Dutch, the Swiss and the departure of the Americans from their area (which did have an impact on the local economy).
Over the next six hours I finished another hat and decided that I had enough knitting for the trip. Might just have been that it was a bit dark as well. One of the hats in my back – a rainbow colored simple beret with a knitted band (rather than ribbing) became a birthday present. She had been admiring it. After trying it on, I thought it was obvious that it wanted to be her hat. Certainly weather near Frankfurt warrants a warm winter hat.
This leaves me with only 11 hats on hand provided I don’t knit anymore in the next four weeks.
I was relieved to find that I remembered the way to Locanda del Ghetto where George and I stayed in 2010 after arriving on the Wind Spirit. Situated in the center of both the old Jewish Ghetto and the current small but vibrant Jewish quarter this hotel is neat, clean, inexpensive and includes breakfast.