May 25, 2009

Day 8 : Nien, nien

According to my original plan we were supposed to have started from Amsterdam late night on Day 7 and arrived half way in Germany. But we were tired and were now behind in our itinerary. We had two choices, skip Germany and take on Italy or skip Italy and spend time in Germany. There was a unanimous vote for Italy and so we caught an early train towards Zurich.

I persuaded everyone to take a short detour to Koln first just to get a feel for the city and then we hopped on a slow moving train to Koblenz. The Rhine river I had read had a lot of interesting sites from Koblenz so we decided to catch another slow train from Koblenz to Mainz or Frankfurt. We sat merrily chatting in the train observing the passing scenes. It seemed more industrial staying true to the stereotype images except when the train passed small towns with beautiful churches.

In the compartment was a lady who asked us where all we have been, where we were from etc., and a gentleman who was sitting in a corner not talking to us. I thought he looked very stern, sort of didn't like us brown skinned people invading his quiet compartment. A station flashed past and I told everyone next stop was Koblenz. We all moved near the door and stood there chatting as the train rolled into a small station. We all got down in a hurry and I had a strange feeling - the station was too small and really no one else got down. I tried to look for some sort of a sign when the man from the compartment came running to the door and said in broken English - "Thiz iz not Koblenz, Nien, Nien". He held out his hand as we stared appalled that the train was going to move. He urged us to get back on pointing to the guard who was still watching us. I understood the train wont move half way when we were boarding back and we clambered in, much relieved. We thanked him of course, I am sure he went home to tell the story shaking his head all the time.

We spent a few minutes in Koblenz sitting by a fountain having ice cream and then eventually caught the next train. From Koblenz to Frankfurt was spent spotting castles. Rick Steves's company has these number signs along the river which makes it easy to turn around and look for the castle on the hills. I had read through the history behind most of the castles and though I didn't remember the bulk of it, we all had a lot of fun with everyone else pulling my leg. 'This one must be the feuding brothers and this one the robber baron etc. etc.'

We arrived in Zurich, ate dinner and crashed to sleep. I vaguely was uneasy about booking hotels in Italy but the breeze from the open window and the occasional sound of the tram lulled me to sleep.

May 25, 2009