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Published: September 5th 2007
Painful looking sculpture. Named after the sound of the water passing through its throat.
Now in front of the computer, more than three years later, we remember it as it had happened yesterday, both of us super exited meeting in the airport in Frankfurt. It had been more than 2 years since we'd seen each other. Four weeks before we had contacted each other and agreed to do a backpacker trip around Europe for a month.
Fernando wanted a break from his agricultural job in Brazil and wanted to stay away for a while. Claudio, after working almost one year on a project in US, finally had the chance to take his vacation. The trip plan was super detailed, Claudio organized train schedules, bought Europass tickets, reserved hotels. Each second of the trip was carefully allocated to activities. Fernando took a plane to Switzerland a few days before to visit some relatives there and spend the night waiting for Claudio at Frankfurt airport.
The first day of our trip we spent walking around town, looking around, camera hanging on the neck and guide book in our hands. Exactly like any first timer! (Today we think on how dumb we looked, how much money we spent on boring things. We entered every place designated
How could we miss? My throat was always so dry! ;-)
for tourists or that had a sign "Ticket office". It didn't matter what, we visited. I don't regret it, it was all part of our new life, our new school. We were there to learn.)
We were going to travel Europe by train, using the Europass. After the first train we had 30 days of unlimited rides. Claudio had never taken a train before (in Brazil they are for cargo only with rare exceptions)
, and for his debut, ladies and gentleman, I present you the ICE
- Inter City Express - 3rd generation. Current state of the art of German railway technology.
The second day we had breakfast on the train station, jumped in the ICE and started moving towards Netherlands, we planned to visit Amsterdam next.
On the way, while enjoying the comfort of the train and discussing the marvels of traveling by train versus bus, through the window we saw the cars on a highway running parallel to the tracks.
Fernando said: "We might be some 140km/hour, look, we are faster than the cars!"
Claudio reply: "No Fernando, here the cars don't drive at 100km/h like home. This is the Autobahn. We must
This is Claudio's first train experience.
be much faster."
And in this moment he saw the display over Fernando's head. It was showing the real speed: 302km/h! Wow!!
Few minutes later we approached Koln. Fernando had been here before and was telling what he remembered about the Cathedral, 14 years ago. Would be nice to visit it, but we were on the train on the way to Amsterdam. As we looked the unmistakable shape of the church towers, the train was slowing down and getting closer to the "Koelner Dom". Finally as the train came to a stop and we realized we were only a few meters from the church square, exactly where we wanted to go! It took us a few seconds to realize we could just jump off the train, visit the Koelner Dom and get the next train onwards! That's why we have the Europass!!!
We remember how this small decision made us happy. We were exultant about the freedom of staying or going at our own will. No plans no appointments. This was the first big lesson. Don't schedule more than you have to. Give yourself the freedom to change your mind at any second!
Two hours later,
From the top
Frankfurt complex train system. For the first train we couldn't start in a better place.
after the visit, we took the next train to Amsterdam. We spent a few days in Holland surrounded by Sex, drugs and wooden shoes
, and than came back to Germany. We still had planned to see Berlin, Munich, and the Neuschwanstein castle.
Berlin is guaranteed good times. We visited only the famous places: The Wall, Brandemburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, etc. We didn't have time to see much, so we jumped on a night train to Munich.
Munich is very famous in Brazil, for the same reason you are thinking. The Oktoberfest. With lots of German immigrants, we have in Blumenau - Brazil, the second biggest beer festival in the world. The Brazilian Oktoberfest!
We arrived in Munich, checked-in and started our usual walk around the city. We joined a free city tour (yes, they are free and exists in every big city in Europe)
and walked until the thirst for a exceptional German beer was bigger than the mood to keep walking!
The last site in Germany was the Neuschwanstein Castle. What was supposed to be quick turned into a long and crazy trip with a bunch of funny situations. After visiting the castle we didn't want to go back
Nothing like relaxing in the first class of German ICE. Easy life at 300Km/H. Thanks again Europass. The magic card, you show to the conductor he smiles and wish you a pleasant trip.
to Munich for the train connection, but go straight from there to Vienna. What happened is that there was no connection between the German and the Austrian Railway in this point. We decided to take the bus to connect with the Austrian railway. We waited until dark at the bus stop. We couldn't believe that a German bus could be late. Only then Fernando read on the time table that due to lack of passengers the bus would come only if you demand by phone. Stuck there we had to take a taxi because we didn't want to miss the last train of the day. Our "connection" took us to a very small train station. We managed to board the last train. Two minutes later it stopped at the next station and stayed. If the previous station was small, this was a single bench on a concrete floor. Looking at our puzzled faces, the conductor kindly recommended us a place to sleep, because the ongoing train was the next day. Even being in a small town with no tourists attractions all the two hotels were fully booked. We had to ask around until the owner of one of the them
1147 Eau de Cologne
We climbed all the way to the top. A stop of two hour in our train journey. Thanks to the Europass
offered us to sleep in the floor of a empty room. Great, we could use the restaurant toilet to brush our teeth and he even gave us some blankets! At least we wouldn't sleep in the cold outside or share the only bench at the roofless station.
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