I wish I could say the train ride from Munich to Bonn was uneventful. But it wasn’t. It was very eventful. And I’m starting to think I am jinxed.
FIRST: I forgot that Germany is weird and has both reserved and non-reserved seats. But if you dont have a reserved seat, it is entirely possible that there are no seats available and you’ll just have to stand. Even for 5+ hour journeys.
A very kind older gentleman in Frankfurt helped me with this back on my 2016 EuroTrip, but this time I was on my own. Thankfully I found a seat that had been reserved earlier but was free for my 6hrs from Munich to Bonn. But it was sheer luck that I found the seat, and after a good 20 minutes of freaking out I finally figured out it was free and I wouldn’t have to stand.
SECOND: About an hour outside of Bonn, we stop at Koblenz. I’m working on catching up with journal posts, and blog posts, and some other random work, so I think nothing of it. Then I realize we’ve been stopped pretty long. Shortly after, a train attendant comes in to the other side of the train cart and begins to talk to the people there. Everyone looks really concerned, and they keep asking him questions. But OF COURSE it is ALL in German, so I have literally no idea what is going on. (Unlike the other countries where people realize I’m clearly not from there and speak English automatically, I actually look German so no one realizes I have no idea what they are saying until I give them the dear in the headlights look or speak to them.)
A few minutes pass. Some people are gathering their luggage and looking very disturbed. The woman one row ahead says something to me in German, which I just smile and nod to because I know absolutely no German (despite my best efforts – and trust me, I’ve tried really hard to learn – all I can remember is ‘Danke’ and um… whats the word for good morning again? Oh! Guttentag?)
An announcement comes from overhead – again, ONLY IN GERMAN. I’m sitting there thinking – “shit, what am I going to do? How am I going to get to Bonn? People are leaving the train, what should I do? Should I join them? Can someone just speak English please?” I start to look up trains to get to Bonn; maybe I could get a taxi? And right at the moment when I was going to get my luggage and leave the train, it jolts forward and we begin again on our journey to Bonn.
Great right? Story ends there? NOPE. Turns out there had been an accident on the train tracks, so the train was being diverted. But I didn’t know this. Because I don’t speak German.
Because I know something has happened, I have the google maps app open on my phone and am actively attempting to figure out where to get off. We roll into a station that is near Bonn, but it is across the Rhine River from where I’m actually suppose to be, so I’m thinking ‘Should I get off? Will they go to the other stop later? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH?’ Frantically, I finally give in and ask the lady if she knows whats going on. Surprise – she doesn’t speak English… (I know everyone says Germans speak perfect English, but y’all – this is the only country where I regularly have crazy situations and not a single person will actually be able to speak enough English to tell me what has happened.) But thankfully this time, one person nearby does actually speak enough English to explain that we were diverted to this station, and this is the only stop for Bonn. So I grab all of my stuff and run off the train, while he is still explaining (which I feel really bad about it because it was super rude of me), and join the mass of people having to pick up their bags and carry them up and down the stairs of the station – because it is a tiny station not actually designed for these giant intercity (ICE) trains so there is no elevator or escalator or anything.
Okay, great, funny story. Done now, right? NOPE. I have no idea where I am, or where I am suppose to go. And the brilliance of this small train station – both directions of the above ground tram stop are named THE EXACT SAME THING. Minus a few letters. Plus, the place to buy tickets is across the train tracks. So I have to take my stuff across, only to figure out I need to be on the side which I started on, so I lug everything back. By this point there is no crowd, so I’m thinking I’m in the clear. TWO MINUTES before the train comes, another ICE train comes and drops off at least 100 similarly confused travelers.
Because it is such a small station and so far away from where everyone is suppose to be, and because every train has now apparently been diverted to this small station, everyone needs to get to the main station but the infrastructure at this station just cannot take that many people. Only it is late and people are stubborn as hell, so everyone is trying to get on this tiny tram. EVEN THOUGH THERE IS ANOTHER ONE IN 10 MINUTES. I felt like I was in China where the conductors force as many people as possible onto the subway and there is absolutely no personal space. Which in and of itself is pretty bad. UNTIL SOMEONE HORRIBLE SOUL DECIDED TO FART. And this whole time on the tiniest and most jam-packed tram, there is a group of teenage Germans in the back blaring early 2000s rap and singing along to it. Now, I love Pitbul, but I do not want to hear ‘Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn’ while crushed in a tiny ass tram with the smelliest fart I have ever smelled in my life.
Funny, right? Must end there, right? NOPE. THE MAIN TRAIN STATION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND THERE ARE NO SIGNS FOR WHERE THE BUS LOOP IS. So when I finally escape the hell tram, I cannot find the freakin’ bus stop to be able to get to my hotel. After 10 minutes of searching, I finally give in and decide to just walk it. It’s only a 15 minute walk; I’ve already spent that much time searching. I give up.
Now thankfully, the gods of travel smiled kindly upon me for once in this hellish trip. As I was walking away, I saw a group of buses heading towards a loop like they have at my university. Success! No 15 minute walk! One problem – my bus doesn’t come for another 10minutes…. Another myth about Germany – things aren’t always on time. Because for some godforsaken reason, the bus came 5minutes later and left 4 minutes before it was suppose to. A 5 minute ride later, I was finally at my hotel, explaining to Karol the insane few hours I had just had.
The pièce de rèsistance: This entire experience I’m texting my new German friend from Munich, and I’m pretty sure after all of it he thinks I am a horrible traveler who has absolutely no idea how to deal with Germany (which is half true. Germany confuses the hell out of me.) But I swear, this stuff just happens to me. I really am a jinx 😂
P.S. Dad – I eventually found my hotel. So I’m still alive.