So, do you remember that bit at the start of my journey in Budapest, when I alluded to a major train fail? Well, this is it. Obviously my Oktoberfest addled brain wasn't quite up to the challenge of catching an international train! The following takes place between 5pm Monday and 5am Tuesday.
I arrived at Munich Central Station early. Having heard lots of travel fail stories from Oktoberfest, I was determined not to end up in one. Plus I'd already paid for a bed in Prague (Czech Republic) that night, and was seriously looking forward to using it! I followed the massive LED signs and easily found my train to Prague, or Praha, however none of the notices on the train doors seemed to mention Praha. I showed a train attendant my ticket, and he pointed vaguely at the train behind me. Great! So that was the right train. I got on with plenty of time to spare, ready for a 6 hour journey into the Czech Republic. Sorted.
The next 4 hours passed relatively uneventfully, until the ticket officer started doing his rounds. He got to a couple of Spanish girls sitting just to the right of me,
At Ivana's flat
With Marta and Clara
looked at their tickets, and said in broken english: “Oh no, this is big problem”. 'Hah, this should be good!' I thought, as I turned down my music to listen in. What have these silly tourists done? “No, this train does not go to Prague” Oh, snap. Off went the headphones, and I joined in on the conversation.
So apparently the back few carriages have a slightly different destination to the front few carriages of the train, and I was now arriving at the final destination: a little German town in the middle of nowhere called Hof! (Take heed, newbie Europe travellers!) The attendant was as helpful as he could be, and got a train schedule for us. The next train to Prague would go 2 hours in the opposite direction before heading onwards, and would leave at 5:30am. Crap! The German girl next to me was also incredibly helpful, using the internet on her phone to find alternative routes, and even offered a spot on her multi-person ticket to Nuremberg, where she lives. Regardless, I ended up stranded at the station in Hof at 9pm, in the freezing cold, with only my backpack and 2 spanish girls who
were struggling to speak English. Hof
It turns out Marta & Clara, the Spanish girls from Gran Canaria, were a life saver. They stopped a girl who was getting off our train to ask her if there was anywhere to spend the next 8 hours. “But this is Hof!” she says, with a quizzical look on her face. “What are you doing here? There is nothing in Hof!” Great, I thought. But the random girl – Ivana – turned out to be one of the nicest people I've met. She was a Croation girl studying in Hof, and offered her place up for us to store our luggage and freshen up! Amazing. We quickly agreed and jumped into a taxi with her.
A bit of freshening up and journey planning later, and we were ready for a night out! Ivana wanted to go out for a drink, and who were we to argue? She showed us around a little first, to “the only tourist attraction in Hof”. It was actually quite intriguing. I forget the name (something like “Sign Park”), but it was basically a huge collection of road signs from all over the world! I quickly
set out to find something from New Zealand, and after much searching I found a huge section dedicated to it, with giant green Auckland motorway signs and all! (If you're ever wondering where a street sign's gone, it's probably in bloody Hof!!)
We finished the night with a few beers at probably the only place that was still open, laughing at our good fortune at having found Ivana. I remember thinking how funny it was that I, the only person without a second language, was acting as a bit of a translater between Ivana, who could speak pretty much every language except Spanish, and the 2 Spaniards, who struggled a bit with English. Classic! We eventually bid a fond farewell to Ivana and Hof as we caught a taxi to the train station at 5am, finally heading onwards to Prague!
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