I may have mentioned in an earlier blog, that I am now a world traveler … that statement was false.
When it comes to traveling, it is quite clear that I have a lot to learn. This past weekend, myself and two other colleagues decided to embark on an adventure to the city of Hannover. It is the largest city within an hour of our work, so we found it a fitting trip for our first friday night.
I suppose this story starts on Friday at 17:00, when I left work to head home. Since it was the weekend, it meant it was my first opportunity to borrow a car from the company and venture out of the roads of Germany. I know the first thing you are all thinking … AUTOBAHN! Sadly, I had no need to travel on the autobahn , so I’ll have to save that for another trip. But, I still had to navigate myself home from work and to an uncharted area. I managed well and was able to do so because I briefly brushed up on the signage before leaving work that day. You’d think that most things are universal no matter where you’d go, and you’d be right to a certain extent. However, it is the subtleties that are the difference between safe driving and a totalled car.
After I left work, I headed home to quickly pack a few items and then headed towards Bad Pyrmont, my first stop for the night. When I arrived, I was greeted by two colleagues (Dan Fenton and Julio Compean). They showed me around their apartments and treated me to my third beer in Germany. It was a Schwarze Bier (translated into Black Bier) so naturally it was a darker brew. I explained to them that I hadn’t eaten in a while and that I could go for a quick bite to eat before we left for Hannover. With ease, they were able to recommend the local Beer Garden.
Before I knew it, I was tasting an authentic German meal paired with a Löwenbräu, my Dad’s favorite. We were outside enjoying the weather and conversation when we noticed that it was going to be close to catch the train. We paid quickly and all started sprinting … towards nowhere. We soon realized that we had become a bit disoriented and weren’t sure which direction the train station was. After we asked a local, we had our bearings and were able to head out for the night. We made it to the train station, or rather .. I made it to the train station just as it was leaving. Julio and Dan had used better judgement and started walking when they realized what time it was.
One of the themes during this trip that you’ll soon realize was our groups ability to “be so close, but so far”. For the next hour, the three of us purchased our train tickets and chatted about various topics. These conversations were spoken in “Denglish”, which I previously described. Julio was luckily enough to had lived in Germany for a year before this experience, which is helpful for Dan and me, because he is able to fine tune our grammar.
This meant that we would have to spend the night in Hannover;a speed bump but not a major problem. We all walked back to the lockers and found the one in which we had stowed away all of our bags. I beckoned to Julio, “ The key please..”. He quickly searched all of his pockets and began to look dumbfounded. Dan and I at this point realized that our problems were growing. We all began to search our pockets to make sure that we hadn’t somehow wound up with the key. No luck.Once we boarded the train it was only about an hour to Hannover. The train ride went by quickly and we made it to the station without any hitches. When we arrived in Hannover, we decided that it’d be best to stow away our bags in one of the train station lockers, so we did so. Julio pocketed the key to the locker and we were off to explore. There were a lot of people walking around the town and the sky still glowed from the sun as it set. We made our way through various shopping malls and ultimately found a small club in the city square. We entered and were greeted by peers of our own ages, shocking compared to most of the club life in the states, or so I’ve heard. The music was blaring and the environment was engaging. Julio and I set our jackets down on a stool sitting next to Dan and proceeded on to the dance floor.
After a few hours of hearing songs I did know and didn’t know, we all decided that we had enough fun dancing and would begin to head back to Bad Pyrmont. This was the point where our troubles seemed to exponentially grow. We headed back to the train station to only when arrived that we were a half hour late to making the last train home to Bad Pyrmont…
Within an hour, we were without a train and without all of our stuff. Thankfully, I chose to keep everything important on me (i.e. my passport, keys, camera). The next two hours, we traced all of our steps to see if we had somehow dropped the key along our adventure. No luck. We soon realized that we would have to go to the information desk and report our key as missing. When we did so, they told us that we would have to wait until 7am to speak with the people who were in charge of the lockers.
The rest of our night was spent in the McDonalds within the train station. We wouldn’t have had enough money or passports to have gotten a hotel room, so we had limited options. Staying within McDonalds was a superb decision. Julio and Dan slept as I watched all the other people come in after they had left other clubs. Before you start thinking that we were in the slums of some city, vulnerable to the wrath of mischievousness, let me explain where we were located. If I had to describe the place, I’d liken the train station to a mall and the mcdonalds to a food court. We were certainly out of harms way.
When seven o’ clock rolled around, I was somehow still wide awake and ready to head back to Bad Pyrmont. (This might be proof that my body still has no clue what time it is.) We made our way to the information desk and were then greeted by the official in charge of lockers. After explaining the contents of the locker, showing identification, and paying a 25 euro replacement key fee …. we had our bags. At that point, I was wondering if my t-shirt and shorts in the bag were worth the 8 euros I had just chipped in.
Once we had our bags, we proceeded to buy our train tickets. I looked at the ticket and figured out that we needed to be standing on the second track and that our train would leave in 5 minutes. Before I headed to track 2, Julio looked at the sign and saw a town near ours and realized we needed to actually be on track 1. Close call.
We boarded the train and sat down relaxing for the first time within a few hours. We were finally about to make our way back to Bad Pyrmont and this adventure would be over. I remember closing my eyes and thinking about all the obstacles we had encountered the previous night. Nudge Nudge Next thing I realize is that I’m being awoken by a man from the UBahn. No big deal I thought to myself, my train ticket is right here in my pocket. I reached in my pocket grabbed the ticket and handed it to the man. At this moment I realized he looked a bit timid. He looked down at me and said to me in German, “Wrong train.”
The first thing I thought to myself was track 2. Shoot! I knew that I had looked at the right listing and that we were not again, not where we wanted to be. He ushered us of the train and explained to us that in an hour another train would come and take us the rest of the way to Bad Pyrmont. I remember thinking to myself, sure it will. Knowing our luck, somehow the train will break down and we’ll have to walk the rest of the way. This didn’t wind up happening, but something else did.
Dan and Julio walked off the train with me and proceeded to the benches at the station. I walked over to the arrival/departure board to figure out what train we had to catch. After triple checking myself, I learned that our next train was going to come at 8:41. It was now 8:00 and a brisk morning. I sat down in between Julio and Dan and laughed to myself, I thought, “Well, I suppose this is what travelling is like for everyone.” Thinking about it now, hopefully it’s not.
Before I knew it, it was 8:41 and our train had come. A very long train arrived in front of us and stopped completely. I looked up at the destination before entering and thought it was odd that it still displayed Hammeln, the name of the station that we were now at. We sat down and began to get comfortable when we realized that all the other people at the station hadn’t boarded anywhere near us. Again, odd. It wasn’t until a women quickly ran over and approached us that I realized that the long train was in fact two trains. The one that we were sitting in, wasn’t going to be leaving the station, it was stopped. After feeling like a complete and utter idiot, we quickly ran over to the other train and boarded in just a nick of time.
Thankfully… thankfully, that was our last hiccup. From Hammeln, the train took us to Bad Pyrmont, where we were able to walk back to the apartment and take a nap for a good seven hours. Our adventure was over and our night would forever be known as Hannover Havoc.