Friday, August 2, 2013

An Account of How 2 Ex-pats Spent 13.5 Hours on a Train from Germany to Croatia

The Route
We both stood there starring at him. I finally broke the silence.

“Ok then, what are our options?”

He then explained that we could either get off at the next stop and find someone to print our tickets or we could buy new tickets from him right now for 100 Euro each- but they would only get us to Austria.

“We’re not doing either of those.” Kelly deadpanned. I nodded in solidarity towards the officer.

The starring continued. He blinked. He lost according to the universal rules of “the starring contest.”

“Ok fine. Stay on the train. But once we cross the border, you’ll have to deal with the Austrian officials.” He mumbled as he turned his back to continue checking other passenger tickets.

Exasperated, I sat down with a sigh. The adorable curly headed blonde traveler next to me smiles, having overheard the entire exchange.

“German officials are strict.” He says in a heavy accent, “you’re lucky.”

*   *   *   *   *

[There should be a prequel to this story that involves how friend A, living in Germany, convinced friend B, living in Croatia to take said train ride. Let’s just say friend A is on a budget, hasn’t ridden many trains and clearly has no reality of what 14 hours on a train is really like…]  

Night Before

19:00 Stock up on fruits, olives, muffins and dehydrated meats at German Market. Never hesitating to grab bottle of champagne and 2 liters of boxed wine.

Day Of

7:00 Wait on curb for sleepy boyfriend (just getting off a 12 hour shift) to give ride to train station.

7:06 Arrive at station. Ask info desk to print pre-paid tickets

7:10 Realize info desk gentleman doesn’t speak English

7:15 Try printing tickets at kiosk- fail

7:21 Get advice from strangers, they say our digital copy is ok

7:32 Board first train

7:40 Pop bottle of champagne

Kelly enjoying early morning mimosa.

7:41 Go retrieve champagne cork from adjacent train compartment (whoops)

8:14 Ohh and Aww at adorable German children on train going on a field trip

8:53 Finish bottle of champagne. Depart train in Heidelberg, Germany

9:00 Find connecting train to Zagreb

9:25 Board train to Zagreb. Realize don’t have reserved seats. Slightly panic at though of standing on train for 13 hours straight.

9:35 Get in slight altercation with German Official- ticket taker

10:05 Find empty seats

10:56: Get digital tickets check again with no problems

11:33 Snack, talk, sleep, read, repeat

13:02 Get digital tickets check again with no problems

13:31 Cross Austrian border

13:46 Avoid eye contact as heart rates increase and Austrian official enters cabin to check tickets. He somehow overlooks us.

14:45 Take in amazing views of Austrian countryside

17:30 Realize were in someone’s reserved seats. Head to back of train to stand. Realize standing on train is not as fun as sitting on train.

17:35 Start drinking game

19:30 Finish liter of wine. Stop in Slovenia, half of train leaves, sit down again.

20:33 Cross Croatian Border

20:48 Get passport stamped

21:23 Arrive in Zagreb

After collecting our bags and getting off the train, we head towards a tram that will lead us to Kelly’s apartment.

“Next time, I’ll pay the difference of a flight.” Kelly says with a smile

beer and pizza after we arrive. real food!

*   *   *   *   *   *

All in all, the train wasn’t bad. It wasn’t that eventful, but I enjoyed the time to catch up on sleep and my reading and my boxed wine drinking. 

*   *   *   *   *   *

Kelly arrived in Germany the previous Saturday. We took her to lunch at the Landstuhl Castle, and then to Bad Durkheim (wine country) the next day. Below are some pictures from those mini trips. 

Yippee! Kelly is here. 
Panorama from the top of the Castle, overlooking the city of Landstuhl

Mimosas before Wine Country!

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