Published: January 9th 2011
January 9th 2011
Its been a couple of weeks since I last updated you about the goings on on my magical mysterious European adventure, so, as I sit on the Deutsch Bahn train from Graz to Bonn..I will recall some of the highlights and lowlights so far! I will fill you in on how I made it here!!
So after leaving the Woodstock School on the 22nd of December, I strapped all my bags on my co worker Caleb's motorcycle. In the style of a bedouin farmer, I had my garment bag and small backpack on the back of the bike, and rode with my big backpack on my back. While I grabbed on for dear life to the back of Caleb. It took about 15 minutes to get to the Picture Palace in Mussoorie; where the 80 cent busride would be waiting. We arrived just in the nick of time! Our friendly bus driver lay on the horn, I think as a welcome for us. I literally had time to unhook my bags, throw them on the bus before we departed! The bus from Mussoorie down to Dehradun takes one hour, but this trip was performed by some sort of Racebus driver!
Our driver seemed to snake through the roads with the precision of Michael Andretti. Only trouble is that when you have cows and carts throughout the roadways leading to Dehradun. These things either move or they become hood ornaments. It was too much for the old sap that was sitting behind me, He was puking out the window. I said 14 hail Marys, but I dont think it was of much use. I was thrilled to reach the bottom! I contemplated kissing the ground, but my inner voice reminded me that this was India! I walked the five minutes from where the bus dropped us off to the train station, and sat and waited for my overnight Mussoorie express train. I was greeted by a nice group of young locals, who were on the same bus down the mountain with me! They wondered about this driver too.. They were very nice and loved the fact that I spoke English. Its funny that often when I am sitting somewhere, a group of people will congregate around me. I truly now know what its like to be Billy Idol.
The overnight train to Delhi was well.. interesting. I found my seat
on the train, an upper bunk, which is usually a smart way to go. Thieves cant easily access your bags, and I think that its better to be away from the others. This train left at about 930pm, and was scheduled to arrive in Delhi at 8am the next morning. In my little compartment on the train was a very nice family from Nepal. They had two girls and a boy. The girls looked like they were about 14 and 5 and the boy about 7. They spoke no English at all, but it was obvious that they were a very nice family. The five year old girl kept saying one two three four five, over and over again. This was the extent of the English that was spoken. The mother and father watched over those kids very well. I sat beside them on the bottom seat for about an hour after we left Dehradun, and then thought that I would climb up to my bunk and sleep. Oh how wrong I would think! The temperature on the train felt like -10. Just before I went to my bed, I observed the father and mother making the beds for themselves
and the kids. They had wool blankets on the bottom, and full sleeping bags. I didn't have this! Most trains will allow you to rent blankets and pillows for a song.. but not this train! The father handed me up a sheet and said its very cold on the train. I happily accepted. I think for the next 3 hours I tried to sleep, but I was too cold to pass out! I slept a very little bit on the train. I know that I dosed off for a bit.. but I was so frozen. When the train finally arrived in Delhi, I went on a walk and search for a reasonably priced hotel. Initially, I walked. But then thought that a tuktuk driver could get me there faster and perhaps they would know a nice inexpensive hotel in the Paraganj area. It cost me about $1.50 to get to the Paraganj region of Delhi. I found a hotel that I thought looked alright, and agreed to pay 250 rupees a night ($5.00 for each day) I was able to check in at 8:30 am, which would not be possible at some places. So! I threw my bags in the
room, changed the lock to a padlock that I had brought with me for security, and went into town for a thali breakfast! Found a decent place, ate lots and then went out to do some more shopping! I would have to kill about 36 hours in Delhi, so I wanted to do some shopping and defrost from my train trip. I would walk around and chill in Delhi, and I came across a movie theatre that was playing Tron. It was funny, because it was in Hindi. I had to imagine what was happening with the dialogue, I pretty much understood the movie. After lots of walking, shopping and the movie, I thought that I would stop in for a evening Thali meal, again! The meal was quite good, although midway through the meal I would observe a massive rat running across the floor in the restaurant and disappear into one of the rooms in the hotel. I think that I was the only one to take notice, I guess everyone else is used to living with them! I quickly finished my meal and headed back to the hotel. I would write some postcards and have an early night.
After all, the next day Dec 24, I would be flying in the evening to Colombo, Sri Lanka. convinced myself that a good nights sleep was needed. As I lay in bed, after closing my eyes, I heard some noises coming from the wall beside me. The sound of pitter patter directly in the wall beside me. I thought that it was strange, but I really needed some rest. I did fall asleep. I awoke though in the morning to more pitterpatter. I observed the hugest tail from one of my friends between the walls. And then I even saw rat's head poke its head out of a hole in the wall. With that I got up on Christmas eve morning. As much as I love Disney and what they sometimes create, when you see a rat and realize that its not Ratatouille the movie, these weren't rat cooks, these were vermin! I locked my door, and disappeared into smelly Delhi. Dec 24 was the opening of the new Bollywood movie Tees Maar Khan. This was the movie that I worked on in March in Bollywood. I thought that it would be awesome to go to the premiere and see
myself on the big screen. There was a 1230 pm playing of the movie, and I thought that there still was some things that I wanted to buy before I could fly to Europe. I went and picked up some other stuff, and meet a Canadian teacher in a shop from Toronto. He had just arrived in Delhi, and I told him a few things that I thought that he needed to know about India. Things to be careful for. We then went together to the movie theatre to see Tees Maar Khan. When we arrived there must have been 5000 people out front of the theatre. We winded our way to the front of the cash for tickets, and everyone said sold out. I went to the window and explained that I was on my way to Germany and that I was in the movie and that I needed two tickets ! Initially I was told no, but then two tickets were handed to me. It was quite exciting to see the movie. I had a good 15 seconds of screen time, and there was no mistaking that it was me. In all Indian movie theatres, they have a
20 minute break at the halfway point of the movie. I brought my backpack with me, and would go to the concession stand for some popcorn and snacks. While in the line, waiting to be served, I felt people trying to get into my pants. It was bedlam, with so many people you couldn't tell who was doing what. Thank God that I had my passport in my front pocket, or I wouldn't be writing you from Europe right now. While I was busy fighting these people from the front, one crafty pickpocket opened my backpack and stole all my ID and about $500 in Cash, which was all in rupees. I had no idea that this had occurred until about an hour after it had happened. I was sitting back in the movie and I realized that my bag was open. When I realized that my wallet with ID was also gone, I told this Canadian guy that I had to go, and that the pickpockets had got all my ID and money. Its quite ironic that all I was trying to do was explain to this new traveller to India to be careful in India, and I would
become a textbook case myself. The last thing that the teacher said to me was that he was going to get out of Delhi that night, I told him that that was a good idea. I think he was heading to Goa. I gave him the hotel card from my rat room, but I wasn't around very long to know if he had returned to the hotel or not, and I didn't get any email address from him. As the time was now 330PM and I was supposed to be getting a taxi at 4 to the airport for my 7:20 pm flight to Colombo, time was of the essence. I went back to the hotel room, searched and discovered that my wallet was not in the room. I would then go to the front desk and tell them that I had been robbed and that I needed to get a later taxi. They told me to go to the police station and get a police report and then come back and the taxi would get me then. I got to the station, spoke to the chief and wrote a report of what had occurred. It was then stamped and
signed by the Chief and I rushed back to the hotel. Grabbed my bags and out I would go. Thank goodness that I got that police report. As soon as I arrived at the airport they asked from my visa card that I purchased the ticket with. I explained that I was robbed, and the manager came over to tell me that without that card I couldnt fly. I presented the archaic, hand written police report and he accepted it. I could fly! So, yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus. I would take the 4 hour flight to Colombo and arrive in the early morning at a very nice 5 star hotel courtesy of SriLankan Airlines. With a wait of 16 hours in between flights, all passengers are given a room to relax and food too. Its just as well too! I had no credit card, bank card or ID other then my passport. I also had no cash! I would awake at 8 am to a phone call from the front desk telling me that I would be going back to the airport in one hour. I sprang out of bed, had a quick shower, grabbed my bags
and left my beautiful oceanfront room.I had some delicious breakfast at the hotel, including a made to order omelette and some fresh pineapple and papaya. Then took the taxi back to the airport with a German guy who was heading back to Hannover after living in Singapore for the past 6 months. When we got to the airport we had a couple of hours to kill, and we hit up a fancy coffee shop and had some nice pastries and then made our way to the flight. The Plane was empty. 40 passengers on a plane that fits 300, meant that we each had 4 seats each. The flight attendents were in the Christmas spirit too. It took no more then 15 seconds to get them at our beckon call! Too much red wine though for our good! The flight took 12.5 hours and when we finally arrived 30 minutes late in Frankfurt, I felt no pain. My sister Sarah was waiting for me, as I rode the luggage cart to meet her. Our connecting train to Berlin was delayed by about an hour due to cold weather and tonnes of snow! I would spend the next 4 days in
Berlin with friends and family, and had a very nice time. Had a photo shoot with my good pal Peter Fauland, and created some magical photos. The morning that I was supposed to fly to Graz on December 29th came too early! I missed the flight, and the next plane wouldn't go for 2 more days! So I got an extra 8 hours with Sarah in Berlin, and some more time to catch up! Then I took an overnight train to Vienna, and a train to Graz and arrived one day later. For the next 8 days, I had a ball! And then I went to a ball! It was so good to see The Derlers and Paiers. We got up to much mischief! You will have to look at the photos and see what I am talking about. This Austrian adventure included a lot of Gluhwein, sledding, skiing, curling, and of course the beginning of the second decade of the 2000's! It was great time. Which, pardon the cliché, ended way too quickly. I am almost in Bonn now, and look forward to writing the next chapter. I hope that your Christmas wasn't quite as eventful as mine. I
certainly have been making the bad things good., and am so thankful for the support and friendships that I have around the world. So!! Check out some of the pics, hope you have enjoyed this! Stay well and healthy and happy 2011! Its shocking to think that the 00's are already gone. Where has the time gone? Peace and love from Germany =)
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