Today has been wonderful and just what I needed! I was able to sleep in this morning until 9:30. I could have slept longer, but knew that I had promised to be up by 10. I had a late breakfast of bread, jam, nutella, some meats, juice, and milk. Yum. I was then able to start a load of laundry and get online for a bit. I was introduced to my host’s mother and other nephew and then I was on my own. I was able to get online and sort out my plans for the next few days, rotate my laundry to the dryer, and then take a nap! My body must be in need of the rest because I am sure I will not have a problem sleeping again tonight.
Sleep I have discovered is a hard thing to come by when you are traveling economically. My last night in my hostel in Munich was challenging. At 2:30 in the morning two guys returned to the room with a few girls they had met. They were all a bit drunk and were talking very loudly. No one said much but it was obvious that they were disturbing the other guests in the room as people began to stir and passively indicate that they longed for peace and quiet. Finally at 3:30 someone called out and asked if they would please quiet down. The response that was called back was a simple, “No.” About 15 minutes later someone got up and walked over to the area where they were sleeping and asked again. The response was a bit better this time and by 4 o’clock they had finally fallen asleep. The little disruption did not make my 6am wake up any easier though.
Often when I ride the trains I am able to get some more sleep. Yesterday I had about 6 hours total on trains and busses to get to the small little town of Oberrotweil where I am staying with my cousin’s friends. I was on my second train going from Stuttgart to Freiburg with my headphones in about to settle down for a little nap when the announcer came on over the loudspeakers to say that there had been a technical error with the time schedule and the train would be stopping in the next city and would not be continuing on. There was a connecting train to Freiburg leaving at another platform in 10 minutes. Ok, not a problem. I arrived at the station and made my way to the other train area and checked the schedule. This train was due to arrive in Freiburg one minute after my connecting train was supposed to leave Freiburg!
So, I missed my connection, but luckily there was another one a half hour later which I was able to get on. Then because of my delay I missed the connecting bus as well and had to wait 45 minutes for the next one to arrive. It was a day of flexibility to be sure! I was able to call Jochen, who was to pick me up at the bus stop, and let him know I would be late. All ended up well. I made it to where I was to be safe and sound, just a little late.
Jochen introduced me to his wife and infant son before taking me to his brother Christian’s home where I am staying in a basement room by myself. It is great to have privacy and the freedom of my own key to get in and out of the house. Jochen’s girlfriend, Vanessa, is also here and she and I were able to chat a bit this morning over breakfast. They are wonderfully nice people. Last night I had dinner with Jochen’s in-laws and had what they called “onion cake.” It was delicious and I have a feeling I may be attempting it at home some day. They shared some of the wine that Jochen makes with me and also some very strong schnapps. The kind that I tried was herb flavored and very good, but very strong. It was a whole family affair and it reminded me of big family dinners at home with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and more!
After dinner Jochen, Christian, and I went to the town bar called Up, that is downstairs, and had a few drinks. They each had something (I can’t remember what it is called) that is traditional in this area which is half mineral water (water with bubbles) and half white wine. I had some local beer that was pretty good and it was fun to just enjoy the atmosphere of a local place. Jochen explained to me that this was the only bar in town even though the town does have tourists. The draw of the town though is wine and its location and so the tourists are often older couples. The town is situated an hour from France, and hour from Switzerland, and an hour from the Black Forrest. It’s quite central for people who want to do a bit of traveling in the countryside.
I have been able to see a little bit of the town and it is very quaint and cute. There are big homes, small homes, and in between homes, gardens, alleyways, grape vines, beautiful trees, and everything that you would expect of a small little town. I plan to go out and take some pictures tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be good. My plans have changed a little bit and I am going to be staying here until Sunday now. At that point I will head to Heidelberg. I had planned to couch surf in Heidelberg but have not received any acceptances to my request, so I looked for a hostel only to find that they were all booked up on Saturday night. So, Sunday I will make my way into town, stay for a night and then move on to Cologne. It is nice to have the flexibility of my rail pass and be able to adjust and change as I need.
Also, now with the change that I am not going to Russia I have a few extra days that I can work with here and there in case there are more changes ahead. I am thinking that I may add some days in Switzerland to my trip and fly into Zurich from Vienna instead of directly on to Paris. We shall see though – that is still a few months away and many things could change between now and then.
I hope all is well with everyone at home! In one week I will have been gone for a whole month! I cannot believe it! My trip is nearing the ¼ mark and I have very mixed emotions about it. I’ll write more about that later as this blog is long enough at the moment. So, until next time, auf wiedersehen!