–> Morning drizzle –> Afternoon cloudy – high temp 51ºF
We needed to take a plane to Frankfurt, and then a couple trains to Heidelberg. Getting up and out of our apartment, riding the bus to the train station, and taking the train to the airport all went off without a hitch. So did security at the airport and getting to the gate. The flight was fast, but the boys didn’t care for all the noises the plane made. I liked the fact that it had some outside cameras feeding video to the overhead monitors, one on the nose gear showing the runway during takeoff and landing, and another that was a view straight down… I haven’t seen that before, and it was cool.
When we arrived in Frankfurt, we grabbed a quick bite (sandwiches) from an in terminal market, and I grabbed Karen and I a couple beers to wash it down. This was my first and last experience with a radler beer. Radler beer is basically lemonade beer… it was, interesting and not in the “oh I like what they’ve sone here” sort of way. I committed to finishing mine, but Karen did not. Later I would envy her decision.
We found our way to the train area and I attempted to purchase us tickets. Unfortunately their system was not very intuitive, and instead of running the risk of accidentally sending us to Hamburg, we decided to wait in a long line to speak an agent of the railways.
By this time my stomach was turning circles… apparently my body did not approve of the radler. Without going into the bio of it all, I was in need of facilities… As Karen waited in line, I resolved the matter… temporarily.
Apparently our first train was the ICE train (high speed) and the the station where we purchased the tickets was the local metro station. We had a very long walk to the platform where our train was. Along the I availed myself of another set of facilities, and thought I had exorcised the radler.
We arrived at our platform to take the train to Mannheim just as an earlier train to Mannheim closed its doors and then left the station. We waited for our train to arrive in about 25 minutes. The plan was to take the ICE to Mannheim, and that would leave us 15 minutes to catch our next train to Heidelberg. As we waited, my stomach started flipping again, but there were no facilities in the area, so I figured I’d use the train’s facilities. The train ran late by 10 minutes cutting our transfer window down to 5 minutes… tighter than I’d like, but still doable.
When our train arrived and we boarded… well, lets just say capacity management is not a concept that the German train system gives a rat’s ass about. All of the seats were full, and there were people standing in the aisled near the doors. I mistakenly believed we just need to get to the seating area to sit, so Dylan and I moved in that direction only to be stuck in the aisle when we got there. Aidan had separated from Karen and had at least half a dozen people between him and her. I could see him closer to the door and had to tell him not to move towards us because there was nowhere to go or sit. Karen was further back near the door, and we were all stuck like cattle. Needless to say using the facilities was out of the question…
Thankfully the train ride was only about 30 minutes, and after about 15 of those, a late teen early twenties boy relinquished his seat for us. I sat down, and Dylan sat on my lap. Our arrival time was now about 12 minutes late leaving a 3 minute window to exit the train with the rest of the cattle and get to the other platform… at this point my confidence in making the other train was shattered. I asked a woman across the way if it was always like this, and she said yes, the trains in Germany are horrible, always overfilled and running late if they get you to your destination at all. At this point I was glad that this was the only train travel we had planned.
We arrived in Mannheim, and I saw our next train two platforms away, however by the time we were able to exit the train and get there, it had left. Karen was frazzled… the unexpected train experience and being separated as a family had really done a number on her.
I looked at a train schedule on the wall and it appeared another train to Heidelberg would be by in less than 30 minutes. So, as I was still in need of facilities, I went to find some, and then decided to confirm my belief about the next train with a railway agent. My belief was confirmed, the train showed up, a non-ICE train with plenty of room. The rest of the trip was uneventful… we arrived at the Heidelberg Altstadt station and walked about 10 minutes to the apartment, along the way spying or first glimpse of the castle.
We arrived at our digs for the next 3 days, and could not have been happier with the location. On a very short cobblestone street with a number of restaurants, a coffee shop, ice cream shop, and a candy store. After a short settling period, we went to dinner at Vetter’s, a restaurant bräuhaus, on our street.
I enjoyed a Vetter 33 which they claim holds the Guinness World Record for strongest beer by starting specific gravity. I can say I’ve had it, but don’t expect to be having it again… it reminded me of cough syrup.
After dinner (Karen and I shared bratwurst on sauerkraut), we explored a little of the old town market area, took a few pics and retired to the apartment.