Tuesday, June 26, 2018

train to Kiel, anyone?

Left Clermont on the 8:30 to Paris, which conveniently arrives just at lunch time. Across the street from the Gare de l'Est we spied an acual sit-down restaurant to restore ourselves before going on. Ah, a burger place. Go to France to eat burgers. D ordered the pseudo-pad-thai, which was not a better idea.

We promise ourselves not to do that again.

Then the 13:55 from Paris to Karlsruhe. Nice TGV, cruising along at 316kph, but once across the Rhine they don't have the right rails, so back down to regular train speed. In Karlsruhe at 16:25 we have time to pick up German snackage as we change quays for the 16:51 to Hamburg. D gets some sort of pizza item (didn't we just say not to do that?), and I opt for a ham & cheese sandwich on some fun bread with seeds stuck on it. And an apple pastry. Karlsruhe to Hamburg is long. We will need sustenance. The apricots and peanuts and oreos and chocolate in the backpack may not suffice.

On the French trains they roll a cart through selling food and drink, and depending on the train there may be a 'dining' car. No real dining, just a fixed area to buy the same stuff that's on the cart, with a handful of tall tables to stand and eat at. On this German train there's also a dining car, but in first class at least, the train guy comes around and takes orders, then serves you at your seat with real cutlery and glasses and everything. Neat. 

Ohhh, neater, they have rhubarb among the flavors of fruit juice. Well, I think, ew. D thinks neat! It's a thing now.

The Hamburg train is running late.
It's only 10 minutes behind, but we have only 8 to make our last connection. They make announcements in German, the a much shorter version in English, and it's not clear what's happening. The train person assures us that the train to Kiel will be delayed to wait for us. OK. But delayed how much? What if we can't find our way around the station fast enough to catch it?

We arrive at platform 12, and the train to Kiel was announced at platform 5, and we have 5 minutes.
We heave the luggage off the train and make our way to the escalator, but it isn't easy to do anything quickly with so many people doing more or less the same thing. There's not going around the woman with the stroller.

So I spy "Kiel", but it's platform 7. Kiel looks good to me, so what if it's not platform 5? Well, the extra hour to wait... So down the escalator to the right platform, and onto the train, where we are about the last passengers to jump on. And off we go.

Ooof, got it.

There's almost nobody here. There's a screen to tell you what's going on, but it only gives the time, not the route or the next station. I didn't have time at the station to look at how many stops we'd be making, but eventually we find a little schematic of the regional routes, and we try to figure out which line we're on. Could be the orange, could be the red, could be a lot of things. The sign said Kiel was the destination, so what does it matter?

We were supposed to get in at 23:00, but we started about 5 minutes late. At 23:05, the lack of announcement for Kiel isn't worrisome. At 23:15 it is.
And then the PA has lots to say, blablablaKielblablablablablabla.
Er, alright. Our station is the end of the line: just stay on until we get there.
Then we stop somewhere we don't see on the map, and I think we're so close that they just don't list everything because there's not space on the tiny map. So we have to be just a minute away.
Several minutes later, a new station is announced, and this time I just keep looking at the map.

Oh, there it is. And there's the last one. They're way over here where we weren't looking for them at all.

We gotta get off this train.

Next stop Schleshwig. Let's take it! We can get a new train, or a taxi, or lodgings, or something.
Mmm, there is NOTHING here at the station in Schleshwig. Middle of nowhere. The five other travellers all bolted into the darkeness of the north German night. The lights are on at the station, but it's boarded up and undergoing renovation.
There are two trains going back down the line. One to the station where we paused several minutes on the way up, and where apparently they split the train, with the head cars going meekly to Kiel, and the others off into this dark hinterland. That one is coming by in just five minutes, so get over there if you're going. Only, once in Neu-whatever, we'd still have to find a train to Kiel.
The other one doesn't come by until 0:07, but it says it goes where we want to go. The map appears to corraborate this news - there is a line from here to there.

Finally here it comes.
It's a teeny little one-car job. No splitting this train, with one for Kiel and one for Bora Bora. We get on. We make every village and car-park stop imaginable from Schleshwig to Kiel, and we get there at 1:15.

Just a little bit late, but we have guaranteed late arrival at our hotel. Time for bed.