Well I’m back on a train again. This time on the ICE (Intercity Express) headed to Koln (Cologne), via Mannheim. I’ve been told there isn’t much in Koln so I will be making a lunch stop then proceeding on another train into Amsterdam – aiming to get there by late afternoon, where I should be staying for a few nights.
These trains are amazing. Quiet, fast and on time. So fast that my ears keep popping. The whole experience has made me appreciate how good travelling is when public transport works. However, I am still confused at the whole reservation process. Do I sit in a reserved seat even if it is not taken? Am I allowed to? I feel I’m being quite a rebel doing so. But somewhat at ease when the train conductor didn’t raise a question when she walked past and checked my ticket. I guess the only frustrating thing is that only on occasions is there an English translation for announcements!
And that leads me to my next point. Aahhhh shit…
There was a great irony that I had begun writing about this point when my train approached Mannheim station and the announcement was made in German. Catching only the name of the station, I had to quickly pack up my things and get off the train before it headed towards Berlin. The change was pretty easy, crossed the platform and the ICE 600 bound for Koln was awaiting. The train is much busier than last with people standing in the aisles. I’ve nabbed a seat (this time unreserved – I think) but facing backwards. Obviously noticing only when the train took off. Looking at the in-car notice board it has cursing speed at 160 km/h and I’ve also noticed I’ve got wi-fi on this train! Huzzah!!
Anyway back to my original point before I was rudely interrupted by arriving at my station. I may have said it previously, but us English speaking tourists must really annoy other countries. It was made even more evident yesterday in Stuttgart. I visited a palace and did a guided tour. I think the cultural value had definitely made up from the other “houses” I had visited days before – that being the Haufbrau Haus (tent) at the Oktoberfest. The tour guide was only a native speaker, and I along with 4 of the 8 that were in attendance had little to no German linguistic ability… Much to the disapproval of the guide. We really take for granted that people can speak English and when they get the shits that we can’t speak any other language – or when we don’t try.
Stay tuned for more stories and rants in days (maybe even hours) to come.