Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Trip Journal

My friend Kim and I went on a 3-week backpacking trip through Europe back in the summer of '97. She and I kept journals of our trip, and I've always thought some of the things I wrote about were read-worthy. So I'm going to post some of my entries over a course of time. This entry was about our leaving Amsterdam.

Friday, June 13, 1997

We let ourselves "sleep in" past 10:30am, the check-out time at the hostel. Thinking we wouldn't get our deposits back, we took our time packing, which, even then, didn't take long. We had planned on taking a late train from Amsterdam to Italy, so we could use the time today and not waste it. Unfortunately, it was already late when we were sitting outside the station on our packs, and the Van Gogh Museum was far away (that's where Kim wanted to go).

As we were sitting there, looking at maps and train schedules, there was a commotion in the Metro; a scuffle and some guy yelling for the police. The guy came out of the metro in the train station, still hollering, holding on to some black guy. A huge crowd gathered, which was a bit ridiculous.

Kim and I decided to go shopping for food for our long trip (we'd decided that we would leave as soon as possible), and we found a little market and bought bread, cheese, meet, wine, chips, and fruit.

We then bought some more drugs :) and a piece of space cake each, and headed back to the station. We needed to know what track our train was leaving from, but the train wasn't for an hour or so, so they put us in the long-ass line, where we waited for about 45 minutes until Kim got up and went back in the line to get a new number, seeing as our train was leaving in 20 minutes.

The line we were in originally went so damn slowly. They were only on the 460's, and we had number 500. I can't imagine how much longer we would have waited.

We went up to the counter, and the woman there was a royal bitch who seemed to enjoy making it difficult for us to understand what was going on. Apparently, the train we wanted was fine on seats to Duisburg, Germany, where we were to trtansfer trains. From there on, the train only had couchettes available.

We decided to take our chances that there might be a couple of seats free, and boarded the train to Duisburg. It was sort of hard to tell when we left Holland and entered Germany, but we did at one point begin to notice differences in train stations, so we figured we'd crossed into Germany. We had to sit in the handicapped seats, pretty much because all the seats were taken, but also because we didn't want to keep changing seats if the ride turned out to be reservation-only.

The trip was pretty damned uneventful, and we soon arrived in Duisburg. A word about Duisburg: no money-changing booths anywhere. You'd think that no one in that town ever needed to change money! It was about 7pm or 8pm, so the banks were closed. We really wanted to buy something there, since we were in Germany for the first and only time on our trip. We just couldn't get any Deutschmarks!

We hung out at the station and decided to eat our space cake. We also opened the bottle of wine, which was Spanish, and not overly fantastic. The train pulled up and the conductor told us that the only things left on the train were the couchettes. They cost 26DM, but we didn't have any, so we started to freak out. It was later discovered that they take guilders, and so we ended up in a 4-person couchette for FL44 (about $25).

We were all alone in the cabin for the first stop or two, but one of our cabinmates, this dour-faced, grumpy man in his 30's, came onto the train. He saw us playing drinking games with our wine, and mumbled something like, "At least I know I'll have a quite night tonight." Asshole.

Kim got drunk enough to have no motor skills, and we were both extraordinarily giggly, which I attributed to the space cake, which had never really kicked in. We hooked up the ladder and took the very top bunks, which were the best, in my opinion. We had a lot more privacy than the bunks below us.

We took out the food and ate some, chomping on carrots because we haven't had many vegetables so far. I went to toss the tip of my carrot out the window (bad me) and the force of the air rushing by as the train sped along spit the carrot tip back inside, and it landed right next to Herr Dickhead.

Kim and I laughed for about five minutes over it, and I eventually crawled down to retrieve it. We were fine for a while, still giggling like mad, and then Kim dropped her pillow right on him. He was getting really pissed at us by this point, and it was quite obvious.

Kim went to sleep, and I finished my book. I then went to sleep, which was surprisingly easy.

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