Getting Lost

23 August 2008

mooning gargoyle of Munster Cathedral
The mooning gargoyle of Munster Cathedral

At noon, we left to find Műnster Cathedral. Five hours later, we found it. Never went in but Sean took a picture of the mooning gargoyle.

Sean decided he needed a bratwurst, finally finding some from a street market vendor. I took mine and bit into it. He read the look on my face. It was raw. Neither of us had thought about it but he had made the purchase in an open air market where locals bought their groceries. Yuck! market





We wandered around Freiburg, not really doing anything but enjoying the ambience.

“If we were going to do the St. Peter-Margen bus/hike through the Black Forest, we had better get to it,” I told Sean.

So, again, we asked directions to the Bahnhof (train station). This time, we actually get clear directions, however, it soon became clear that we were not good at following directions either. We knew where we went wrong, but instead of going back to that road, we decided to continue going over and up in the right direction. Did that work? What do you think? We wandered and wandered. I was getting exhausted.

“Sean, I have to sit down and take a drink of water.”


So, I was sitting there drinking my water and looked up. I wish I had taken a picture of the sign but I didn’t so I have included my drawing of it. It was a beautiful sign with the ubiquitous golden arches. We had eaten at that McDonald’s the day before. I didn’t know what hbf stood for but I knew it was the central train station.

“Sean.” drawing of a sign

He looked down at me and I just pointed up at the sign.

Of course, we took the hard way over the steep overpass instead of under. We hadn’t seen that part of the station before and Sean wondered if it were a different one but no, it is the same one. Sean got his four mile hike only it was five and a half. McDonalds

The Black Forest

I am writing this from a hotel/restaurant in St. Margen, waiting for Sean to make the four mile hike from St. Peter. We wanted to hike in the Black Forrest but after yesterday’s downhill uphill hike, I didn’t think my legs would hold up. We took a bus from Freiburg to St. Margen. Sean got off the bus in St. Peter; he looked at me questioningly through the window and shrugged. I called him. He hadn’t seen which way the bus went and didn’t understand the name of the town where he was supposed to be going.

“That’s okay, Mom. I’ll talk to you later.”


I continued on the bus about ten minutes to St. Margen, and walked into a hotel/restaurant.

“Ich spreche kine Deutsch.” It was the only sentence I knew in German. The hostess just looked at me expectantly without saying a word.


“Would you care to come take a seat?” She spoke fluent almost unaccented English. I had a huge rare steak and a salad. I didn’t order it rare. They didn’t offer me a choice. I ate leisurely as I wrote in my journal.

I had been there about an hour. I called Sean again. No answer. Four plus times I dialed, no answer. I texted. No answer. I didn’t panic, exactly, but I had a strong image in my head of myself talking to the German police, “I’ve lost my son in the Black Forest.”

Soon, my phone rang but reception in the Black Forest was sketchy and I do not hear well anyway.

“How many towns in the area have the ‘Saint’ in them? He told me to ask the hostess.

“How many pounds what?” I asked.

He repeated. I still didn’t understand what he was asking so finally he hangs up. My brain finally interpreted the question so I went back inside to talk to my server.

“It is too far,” she cried, “and it is raining!”

It was indeed raining. My rain jacket had been soaked inside and out just from my short trip outside for better phone service. I walked back outside. Lo and behold, there was Sean coming up the sidewalk, his grin splitting his face.

“Hi Mom.”

“Did you like it?”

“That was beautiful Black Forest,” he said in German.


Back to Freiburg

It was entirely too late to go to Rothemburg, so we got my bag out of storage and went to the Inter City Hotel right next door to the train station (the better not to get lost on the way to our 07:53 train.) Why didn’t we stay there the night before? It looked closed and we were too exhausted to think to look for a bell.

Training Day – Learning to navigate trains in Germany

22 August 2008

train doors from the inside looking outSean named the day Training Day.

We landed as scheduled at Kohn-Bonn airport and after two inquiries, we boarded a train to Koblenz where we were to change trains for Moselkern. I say after two inquiries but it was two inquiries and a one hour delay. Sean and I were standing at the train door which had just closed. By the time I realized I had to push a button, the train rolled away. Sean was more than a little frustrated.

We sat at the terminal and waited one hour. I told him to be at the door and I would be right there with him. We made it onto the train this time. We got off the train in Koblenz, found what we thought was the right train to Moselkern. The platforms were 4 North and 4 South

“South,” I said.

“Are you sure?”

“Well, we are wanting to go south.”

A train came along at the appropriate moment, so we boarded.

Sean said, “I think we’re going the wrong way. I don’t recognize any of the towns they’re saying from the list.”

“It does feel like we’re going back the way we’ve come.”

Susan on the train
That’s me.

“Hey, it’s an adventure. It doesn’t matter where we end up. We’ll do something wherever we end up.”

“Right,” I agreed. “It doesn’t matter.”

We rode in silence for a few minutes.

“It really does feel wrong,” Sean said.

“I know, but it doesn’t matter,” I said.

“No, it doesn’t matter.”

It was the right way. We got off at Moselkern.

The station was totally unattended. There were no lockers. We were going to put our stuff in lockers and take a 1.5 hour hike to Burg Eltz.


We carried our luggage downstairs under the tracks and back up again to find a “main” street. This turned out to be a street wide enough for exactly one car. No room for pedestrians.

We rang a bell at a house. A lady looked out at Sean and shook her head. We walked on but someone answered the door and hailed us.

“Sprechenze English?” I asked.

She shook her head.

I made eating motion with my hands. She pointed down the street.

We ate a wonderful half a roasted chicken each with french fries.

sidewalk cafe
Where we left our bags

Sean’s German really began to come back to him. He spoke with a girl (of course) of around sixteen. She called a taxi to take us to the Castle and offered to let us leave our bags there. We accepted gladly. (I’m sure there are some readers who will think we were stupid to leave our bags with strangers but…)

The taxi driver was a lady about my age who was really rocking to the music on the radio. She finally turned it down and struck up a conversation with Sean. She dropped us off at the parking lot from where we walked downhill. I wondered how many people they have lost walking down that hill/mountain.

photo of Castle Eltz
Burg Eltz

The Castle was cool! I bought a book. Sean took pictures. We got a tour guide who spoke English. He was pretty stern and really hard to understand. Every once in a while he would spread his mouth into a smile that was sudden and short lived. I thought his boss must have told him to smile more and he would suddenly remember.

As we were leaving, Sean asked, “How did you like the castle?”

I found myself swaying on my feet. “Fine, if I don’t fall on my face before I leave it.”

“You too?”

Jet lag had finally caught up with us.


{There was some incident regarding the loss of our entry ticket but Angelica remembered us and I got in. Sean found his ticket. My notes are rather incomprehensible.}

Sean told me that at the age of 56, I did not know how to walk. He complained Michael and I wear ourselves out taking small steps quickly. “Slow down,” he told me, “and think about breathing.”

Going back up that hill was murder on my legs. We finally achieved the parking lot and found the cab. I actually remembered the address of the place we left our bags which we reclaimed and hiked back to the train station. From Moselkern, we went to Cochen were we decided, I should say discovered, that we had to backtrack to Koblenz to get a train to Freiburg changing at Mannheim. Their trains are well synchronized. We get off of one and on to the next.

Sean kept thinking he was going to get to eat but finally had to get a sandwich on the train.

We arrived in Freiburg at 23:30 where we wandered and asked for the hostel for an hour. People were not good at giving directions and we were not good at understanding them. Finally, we so exhausted that we got a hotel room for 120€. It was a beautiful old building. Our room was on what Americans would call the third floor but they called it the second. It had two monster beds and a monster couch. We had showers, excellent beds and ten hours of sleep, barely leaving before getting charged for another day.