Sunday, April 24, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

I have finally come back to finish the rest of my Freiburg adventure! Sorry, but I got preoccupied with school work, John coming to visit me in Montpellier, and a virus-yeah the last one so much fun.  I have the time now because I’m on a Thalys train just passing through Brussels at the moment on my way to Amsterdam to meet up with John.  It’s Easter break for us, but more on that later because I can’t start talking about another trip.

Even though Europe is very scrunched together, planning even a weekend voyage can be tricky. Take my case of getting back from Germany, which in the end worked out fine, but was just a lot of coordinating and taking many forms of transportation in one day-hence the title of this post. You all know that I already took a night train to Strasburg and then a train to Freiburg, That was fine for the way there, but on the way back I couldn’t really find any tickets that pleased me. Either they were too long of a voyage or I would have to leave super early and/or they were too expensive. That’s when I looked into some of the discount airlines where you can find some pretty great deals; most often people use or I found out that ryanair does flights between Frankfurt and Montpellier, and that weekend I found one left at 5:15pm on Sunday for about 27.99€ after tax. Perfect I thought, knowing that John flew to Frankfurt from the U.S. and then took an hour train ride to Freiburg.
Then about two weeks before the trip I started looking at the German train website to order all the other train tickets I would need for the trip. I bought my tickets to get from Strasbourg, but was confused on the ones from Freiburg to Frankfurt because there were a few different Frankfurt options. This is when we realized that ryanair flies out of Frankfurt-Hahn, a lowly airport out in the middle of nowhere, and not Frankfurt-Main!!! John did some research for me and found out the way to get there was to take a train to Frankfurt Mannheim and then a bus that only comes every 2 or 3 hours to Frankfurt-Hahn. I needed to get to the airport about 2 hours ahead of time at 3:15pm. Luckily there was a bus that gets you there just in time, but it leaves Mannheim at 1 or something. So then I had to get a train ticket to Mannheim, about an hour and a half train ride. This meant that I had to leave Freiburg at 10 or 11am (don’t remember now). It sucked because I basically had to get up, make sure everything was packed and together, and then go.
We got up and planned to leave at a certain time to catch the tram in Vauban (1st mode of transport). Turns out Sunday the tram runs infrequently and we had to start walking to the station because it would take so long. John even considered grabbing some bikes. Then we saw that the time board must have been wrong at our stop because at the next one it came within a few minutes. Phew I wasn’t going to miss my train, my bus, and my plane!
After a non-eventful train ride (2nd mode of transport) I got to Mannheim with time to walk around looking confused, mainly because I couldn’t find the bathrooms or the buses for awhile. The coach bus ride was 20€ and you just pay the driver cash when you board and yet another uneventful long haul before reaching the airport (3rd mode of transport). 

Freiburg Hauptbahnhof the morning I left. 

The Frankfurt-Hahn airport is tiny and check-in and security took under an hour to do, so I was left with sitting around some more. Thank goodness for my IPod Nano that has an everlasting battery!  At this airport you get to walk on the tarmac and then up the plane stairs to board the plane. I had never done that before.  Once in the plane you choose where you want to sit, only rows of 3 on each side of the plane.  This was the least painful of all the rides, since we left at 5:15pm and landed at 6:45 (4th mode of transport).  When we landed though I had to be on my toes again so that I could make my bus in the city center back to the suburbs, last one on Sunday comes at around 7:30 or 8. So this left taking the airport shuttle out of the picture because the times didn’t coordinate. So, I took a quick, but not cheap taxi ride to the city center (5th mode of transport). My phone died, so taking a taxi to catch my bus or going around the city knocking on friends doors were my only options. I ended up catching my city bus (6th mode of transport) right when I got to the stop and making it home by 7:30.  Longest traveling day I’ve had to do so far, and unfortunately for me at the end of this week I have a date with Frankfurt-Hahn yet again!

What else is new?
Last week was may last week of classes already, and of course I get sick right in the middle of the week and had to miss some class. I had really bad headaches/muscle aches, fevers, and a sore throat, the doctor said it was just a virus and told me what to take to ease the symptoms.  

Uki, my host dog, has become obsessed with chilling in my room with me. Every morning he gets up with the parents, does his business and then opens 2 sets of doors, so he can come sleep with me. Before the parents were locking him up in the veranda before they left, so that he wouldn’t be barking outside or be in my room. He is a genius though and can push away 3 or 4 dining chair blocking the sliding glass door then proceed to unlock and open the door to outside. He would just bark out there, and I don’t mind him in my room, so I told the parents to keep him inside.
Uki literally sleeping on his back by my bed.

John came to visit me in Montpellier last weekend! He really enjoyed seeing the Mediterranean world that I live in. Pictures and more on what we did to come.
John at the beach.

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