Day One/Two: missed it by ‘that’ much


Well I don’t know about anyone else, but 3 pm is too late to leave on a trip. I was up by 5 and bored by 10. That left me 5 hours to fuss. And Leslie 5 hours to worry. And gave C 5 extra hours to repack. And most importantly it gave the cats 5 extra hours to look daggers at us. They were not amused by the packing.

But in the end we were on our way. 25 minutes from our door on the west Henday and we were turning off into the airport. And then the wardrobe malfunction happened. Luckily she had a small sewing kit in her luggage so she was able to sew that button back where it belonged before we checked in. As Carmen later quipped: We saw Frankfurt, We saw France, We (almost) saw Carmen’s underpants.

Speaking of which (time I mean), they only had 2 lanes going at security so our 30 minute buffer was being eaten away to the point we thought we’d have to jump the queue. This sort of set the tone for the whole journey. But then they opened more lanes. But then Carmen was ‘randomly selected’. But then it was over and we dashed aboard our Dash 8 for Calgary.

In YYC we wandered to our departure gate and then gathered round and ate a bagel; Leslie’s came with a side of RAF military transport. We’d shelled out cash for posh seats by the bulkhead so we were stoked to board.

At this point C was bored so she, as is her wont, demanded a story. Topic: boozy bear. Once upon a time a man named Jaques Hiebert lived in a town in France. Jaques drank quite a lot. So much in fact the people felt he was a bit of a drunk. When he was stumbling home in the mornings they would yell out ‘Hey Boozy!’ as he passed. And so he became known as Boozy Hiebert. The End.

The flight was good. I didn’t sleep but the other two caught a few winks. Dinner was passable but breakfast was stale muffin and yogurt. The red wine was deplorable so I had two. The bulkhead seats meant we had room to shuffle around a lot, I was even able to leave my seat, step over Leslie and go to the lavatory without waking her. Sheer luxury.

Not so soon, we arrived in Frankfurt and shuffled through customs. It was surprisingly efficient and we found ourselves at the train station hours before I had planned. This enabled us to book a different route to Strasbourgh than I had planned. We grabbed tickets, with reserved seats for 1 leg in advice of the DB Bahn agent.

Walking to the platform we were passed by Boingy Bunny’s cousin, Boingy Baby. Boingy was strapped to the back of her obviously late parent was enjoying a bouncy trip down the corridor. She seemed quite pleased.

So down to platform 5 to await the notoriously precise German trains. At around 12:45 a train rolled in and we boarded, found seats and sighed. The trained pulled out and stopped a few minutes later at Frankfurt Main (which I thought we’d avoided). We lost our seats because they’d been reserved and we settled in by the doors.

At this point I noticed the display. And I didn’t recognize the train number nor the next destination. After a bit of discussion and checking and a conversation with a British girl we all decided that not only were we in the wrong train, but it was going the wrong way, was an express and wouldn’t be stopping again for an hour. Only the fact that the seasoned European traveler (the British girl) had made the same mistake prevented us from committing ritual hari-kari on the spot.

When the ticket agent came by we found out that this train was running late so it had changed gates at the last minute and we had jumped on by mistake. She booked us tickets back to Strasbourg on the next train out of Kessel-Wilhelmshöhe.
Unfortunately as the train was already running late and suffered a few more delays, we arrived at Kessel 1 minute before our connection was due to depart, 3 gates over. The British girl, unburdened by luggage made it. We did not.

So I trudged up to the ticket office to try again. As an aside, I find my French deplorable and barely sufficient to be allowed in France. My war-movie German would be better off called nonexistent and I am still a bit ashamed to be in Germany. The ticket people are nice though and likely used to us tourists.

After getting yet another new itinerary we settled down at our new gate and checked twice before boarding. The original ticket agents advice to reserve seats was good advice because we didn’t sit in another chair until we reached Offenburg and the small regional French train that was our last leg into Strasbourg. At one point it was wall to wall in the vestibule we had settled in. The only really unfortunate part was the areas outside of the seating areas was not air conditioned and the temperature was hovering around 33. Oh, and we hadn’t eaten and had very little water.

Did I mention this train was running late too? An hour and a bit later and we were back where we started at Frankfurt Main. At each succeeding station the announcer (now giving us a brief English translation) would announce which connections were being held for passengers. It looked like were going to need the help too.

In the end we made our connection, finally sat in seats, enjoyed the air conditioning and arrived in Strasbourgh tired, very sweaty and hungry. My vote was for food, shower, sleep but I was outnumbered and shower-food-sleep it was. Hotel-du-Rhin was across the square from the Gare so it was a short walk to our rooms.

After ablutions, we met and upon the suggestion of the hotel clerk, headed to Petite-France, the old quarter of Strasbourgh. Dinner was pizzas, our first bottle of Alsatian Pinot Gris and a beautiful evening on the narrow cobblestone street, complete with itinerant clarinet player.

A lovely walk home in the dying moments of the day and we were home again. One last cold shower for me to try and shed the heat and I was asleep until a terrific thunderstorm woke me up hours later. I don’t think Leslie slept well as every time I woke to grab a drink of water (which was often, I was so dehydrated) she was up reading.

All in all, an adventurous 2 days.