Never having ridden a night train before, Andrew and I didn’t know what to expect. We thought it could be a good idea. So, typical us, we decided we should give it a shot.
If you’ve ever ridden with me in a car (when I am not driving), you may have noticed that more often than not, I’ll be fast asleep within the first few minutes of the ride. My motor-induced-narcolepsy is also obvious when riding trains. Knowing of this wonderful ability, I thought that spending a full night’s sleep on the train would be absolute heaven for me.
And, yes, indeed, shortly after the train left the station that night, I was gently rocked into a deep, heavenly slumber.
What I didn’t realize was that even though it was the middle of the night, the train would still make a few stops. What this translated to, was that instead of a blissful night in sleep heaven, I would instead be in, well (dare I say it?), hell.
I woke up every time that train stopped.
For Andrew, the opposite scenario took place. He could easily fall asleep when the train was stopped, but every time it started again, you guessed it, he would wake up.
Now there are a few different kinds of tickets you can get for a night train. The most expensive, of which, is a ticket for your very own room/cabin which sometimes includes toilette and shower. Next in line is the ticket for a couchette (which is what we bought). It’s basically a cabin with four or six bunk beds stacked on top of each other… So this meant just another normal night sleeping with strangers, using a shared toilette at the end of the hall, and possibly not getting a shower. The third ticket option is definitely a last resort… typical, upright train seats. IF this is what you bought, this means you have to try to sleep sitting up. The. Entire. Night.
(I’m sure you are wondering why anyone would buy those tickets. Well, there’s many reasons including needing to be financially responsible, every bed being completely sold out, or simply having a general need for adventure.)
Our train was due to arrive in Munich at 6:00am! That meant we had to find something to do until the city woke up… which I wasn’t particularly looking forward to. But remember how I said I didn’t realize the train makes stops throughout the night? It so happened that OUR train made a few extra, unplanned stops… The first time it happened the train was delayed for 45 minutes due to technical difficulties (during which Andrew slept blissfully while I counted sheep). At another point during the night the train stopped for over an hour (during which, again, Andrew slept blissfully while I tried to work some magic and will the train to move with my mind).
Upon waking that morning, we realized the train had been severely delayed and wasn’t going to arrive in Munich until two hours later. I was overjoyed. It wasn’t until later that we realized the reason for the excitement. Apparently, the delay was caused by a ‘personal accident’ during the night. Our cabin mate explained that ‘personal accident’ usually means that someone purposely stepped in front of the train.
What a night.
[For many of these reasons, Andrew and I have made a pact to never take a night train again.]
We arrived in Munich that morning pretty dreary, depressed, punch-drunk from a night of tossing and turning, and feeling dirty from not being able to shower. We stopped at Starbucks for a quick pick-me-up, did our best to forget our troubles, and then immediately followed the crowds of lederhosen to the Oktoberfest grounds!!
Originally, we had built a portion of our trip around three full days in Oktoberfest. What were we thinking? Obviously, we weren‘t. Or maybe we were simply ignorant of what ‘staying three full days at Oktoberfest’ actually meant…
To give you a clue, imagine what it was like at the last football game you went to: a packed stadium, drunk people dressed up in their teams gear, eating soft pretzels and random meats…
…Then imagine if those thousands of drunk fans had to sleep the night in the stadium in order to do it all again the next day.
What would it be like during that night?
What would it smell like in the morning?
Why would I want to do that??
Thankfully, we realized all of this in time to change our schedule accordingly. We ended up allowing Oktoberfest to take up a full three HOURS of our lives, instead of three DAYS.
We arrived at the fest at 9:30am. Oktoberfest is basically like an enormous carnival with rides, food stands, and many different beer ‘tents’ (though the beer ‘tents’ were actual buildings). Long story short, we picked a tent, stood in line, and sat down at a table with complete strangers. We ordered a liter of beer and a huge pretzel with yummy mustard. We left three hours later, happy, with full bellies and lots of new friends!!
Take my word for it, Oktoberfest is a once in a lifetime experience.
Kerry and Jim, our super cool family friends who happen to presently live in Germany, picked us up from there and drove us to a town called Garmisch. The plan was to finish the backpacking part of our trip by spending nights #97 and #98 with them in the German countryside.
It was the perfect way to finish our travels. Kerry and Jim, knowing how mentally and physically drained we were, graciously demanded nothing of us. We spent our time sitting on the porch staring blankly at the German Alps, playing with their dog Ozzie, stuffing our faces with delicious German food, doing loads of laundry, and simply enjoying each other’s company!
On a side note, even though I thought my favorite food would come during our time spent in Italy, I found German food to be equally, if not more, enjoyable. I’m sure its because I have grown up eating this kind of food. In all seriousness (I have witnesses), I was in food heaven those last few days! There’s just something about German salads, their mustard, and don’t forget about that sauerkraut!
We spent night #99 at Kerry and Jim’s house back in Stuttgart. We had left some luggage there (what we couldn’t carry on our backs) and I had a really, really, really fun time going shopping in my own suitcase!!!
[Yes, I may have yelped a few times… “OOOH, I FORGOT about those shoes!!”]
We were able to catch up on American TV, eat yummy pizza, and sleep on an amazing mattress.
That night was almost like a re-orientation back into ‘normal’ society.
I want to take this time to officially thank Kerry and Jim for giving us a place to crash during the beginning and end of the trip, for keeping our luggage safe, and for taking us to Garmisch. We are so thankful that you are in our lives! Seriously, you are too fun!!!!
I’m lumping these last few days into ONE blog entry because, frankly, I am tired.
What better way to end than on one final FLACH rating??
The Turner FLACH Rating:
(for Oktoberfest, Garmisch, and Stuttgart… and pretending the events of the night train never took place…)
A final 5 stars!