Perhaps just a bit more adventure than we signed up for?
The day started to turn sour when we saw the sign saying that all the tickets to tour Neuschwanstein Castle were sold out for the day. :-( If you aren't familiar, Neuschwanstein is one of the most famous castles in Europe as it was built to be the prototypical romantic castle. The story of that visit will be in another post, for this story is about the 27 hours surrounding it.
We were up and out of the AirBNB in Salzburg by 5:45 that morning, and 6 hours later in line for castle tickets, when word came down that tickets were sold out. But we'd invested too much time so far to just turn around, so we hiked up to the castle to at least say we'd been there. We debated whether to tour Hohenschwangau - the castle just across the way, or to just get back to the train and possibly get on our way to Switzerland a bit earlier. We knew there was a train departing at 3:06, and 4:06. It was only 1:30 so we decided to head back the 2 miles to the trainstation and see if we could get out even earlier.
Only... the line for the bus back to the train station, and the TRAFFIC JAM all the way back to town were horrendous, and we didn't even get there until 3:00. Our only option to get out of town was the 4:06. Ours, and about 500 other tourists'. Getting on that train was one truly frightening experience. The crowd sweeping us along - shoving and jostling... Kelly and I had our luggage where as most others did not. I felt very badly for the 4 people who had to try and get OFF that train with that hoard pressing them back in. We didn't event attempt to get seats. We had been warned when we got our tickets that we had a short connection after leaving Fussen -- 3 minutes, actually. The train didn't even arrive until 6 minutes late and left 12 minutes late - so we knew we wouldn't make that connection. We hoped the conductor would be by soon, but we became concerned we would never see him, so I went in search. I slipped, tripped and stepped on toes through probably 5 cars before I found him. He introduced me to another gentleman also going to Switzerland - who spoke English -- so he asked us to sort it out. Using the train app on his phone, he quickly developed a plan that involved getting off at our original station. But Kelly was far behind me and I didn't know how close that station was. So I pushed my way back.... only to find Kelly talking to the conductor - and getting exactly the same route from him directly! He must have gotten off of the train and walked back by way of the platform, because I have no idea how else he could have beat me back there with the train now 20 minutes late and restless passengers everywhere.
Anyways, we get off and chatted with our new guide a bit. He went in to consult with the agents, and came back to tell us an even better route - because our first route still involved a fairly short connection, and at the end of the day, he said, he just had little confidence that any trains were on time. (The Swiss have a fairly pessimistic view of the German train system, and I'm starting to sympathize) Anyways, he told us that we wanted to catch a short 10 minute train, and then wait an hour, to catch a direct train all the way to St. Gallen - our destination. OK. Before leaving Fussen, we had bought some individual bottles of wine and were planning to enjoy them on the train - if we could ever get settled long enough to do so!
We caught the 10 minute train - and again there were no seats to be had. So there we were, gathered at the end of a car. Kelly was shifting some things around with her bags, and the bag with our snacks and wine shifted the floor fairly hard. And then started leaking red wine... :-0 UG! Nothing to to about it, but left it in place, and tried to hurry it out the door as soon as we arrived. Fortunately only one bottle broke - but it pretty much shattered. We mopped it up and salvaged what we could.
This was the stop with over an hour break, so our new friend said he was going to leave to find dinner. We said we'd see him on the platform for our next train. There were only 3 benches in this train station that were all taken, and it was now raining outside so we weren't going to sit out there. And, we'd been standing for both of the last two train rides - after that hike up to the castle I was definitely looking for a seat! So we decided to buy a burger in the station, since we were now scheduled to arrive in St. Gallen too late for the meal Antonella had planned for us.
Only, the diner didn't take credit cards, and we were out of Euros as we were headed for Switzerland! (who uses Swiss Franks for their currency). Kelly asked if there was an ATM - there was - out in the rain, and apparently several blocks away... Our dinners were made and I was partially done eating... before she came back saying that the ATM refused to give her any money. BUGGER. Thankfully they agreed to take US Dollars - otherwise we thought we might be washing dishes!
So we'd now used up our hour layover, and needed to get to our train, which appeared to be at the platform. Panic, and a long day already caused us to run to the platform, change our minds and run to another, only to ask the conductor who confirmed that was NOT our train, and we ran back to the first platform. I then managed to see Zurich on the sign for that train, so we tried to get on, but the doors wouldn't open. Had to run up to the next car and managed to get on. WHEW.
So we settled down for a 2 hour ride. Kelly was tracking the train one her phone. (by the way, she just got a new Pixel 2, and it's been a life saver! My AT&T service has not picked up anywhere so far, and she's had service almost the whole time. And yes, her data roaming is disabled. HOWEVER, the train app we were using in Germany didn't seem to run well at all on her Android phone, so we were consistently stymied with trying to make our own train plans.) Anyways, an hour in.... the train comes to a stop, and she looks worried, and tells me it looks like everyone else is getting off the train. I said that's not a problem, the train will continue regardless of whether there are passengers. But then the lights were turned out.
Crapola. Kelly also said she'd been tracking the train - but wondering when it would be turning east to head towards St. Gallen. LOL.
Ug, we were stuck at an end of the line little German station, Obertsdorf. It was 9:00, and very few people were around. We called Antonella again, who frankly had never heard of this town and didn't know how to help us. Another group of travellers came in, who indeed spoke English... and who looked alarmed to hear that we were trying to get to St. Gallen -- "It is very hard to get there from here!". They were suggesting we should make our way back to Munich and try again (SEROUSLY?!). We resolved to return to the next largest station and inquire there. But one of them came and found us on the train with a new route that only required 90 minutes of train travel. Sadly, that was 30 minutes of travel that night..... and an hour starting at 6:30 in the morning. GAH
There was nothing to be done - we set off and arrived at Lindau about 11 pm, and were pleased to see there was an actual rail station with benches and everything there. We hunkered down, planning to spend the night. Unfortunately the bathrooms were already locked. Kelly did find a bottled water vending machine though. There was quite a bit of foot traffic through the station for the next hour. Then it got deadly quiet, and we were the only two there, until the drunk man kicked in the door.
Around midnight, the main station door flew open so hard that half the glass panes broke. He came in, swearing loudly, and continuously. He walked thought the station and out towards the platforms. We were trying to just stay inconspicuous so as to not try to attract his attention. In a few minutes, he came back in, still cursing a blue streak, slamming various doors, though none of the others lost their glass. He exited through another door in the front.
About 10 minutes later, a small group of people came in, leading some police officers. They came and asked if we had witnessed the guy come in, we said we had and gave a brief description. They, however, thought he had left the station out the back, and we were able to tell them he came back in and out the front. They all turned and went that way.
15 minutes later, the police officers came back in to talk with us further. They had apprehended the guy, and we described him, and then confirmed the photo they showed us. They took an official statement from Kelly. They were both really nice, and fluent English speakers, and were joking with us. They apologized, saying their town was usually a sleepy one where nothing exciting ever happens.
Then... they asked when our train was. We said sadly it was at 6:30 in the morning. Oh! They said that we wouldn't be allowed to stay in the station overnight, that at 1:00 we would be kicked out. It was getting close to 1:00.
Well, darn it - we said we didn't know where to go. We didn't really want to rent a hotel room for a few hours, and they commiserated. I asked if there was an all-night cafe near by? Well - there was a 24 hour Mc Donalds... We said that would be fine - was it within walking distance? They cringed and said it was 5k away. With her most pouting face ever, Kelly asked them -- well who could give us a ride there? She's a cheeky monkey. There was quite a bit of back and forth between the officers in German... and finally they said if we would put our luggage in a locker, they could give us a lift. Deal!
Chatting on our way over, they were remarking that actually they had one of the larger police cars that night - that they had more room in the back than usual. It wasn't what I'd call roomy. We asked if they had visited the states before - one had. He is a fan of Dodge Chargers and had come over last summer and rented one. But our speed limits were pathetically too slow. He couldn't imagine why anyone should have to be limited to less than 130 KPH anywhere on a big road. (I just looked this up -- that's 80 MPH. LOL)
And then the Golden Arches appeared and our ride was at an end. I had a chuckle when they both got out to open our doors for us .... and then realized the courtesy was because you can't open the back doors of a police car from the inside!
But here we were, 1:30 am at Mc Donalds. At least the bathrooms weren't locked! We setup shop at a table in the corner - and proceeded to watch kids and adults come in constantly all night. Paranoid about battery life on our phones - we limited phone time. BECAUSE WE CAN'T FIND POWER OUTLETS ANYWHERE! Not the train station, not coffee shops, and not at Mc Donalds. Both of us had external batteries, but those were both already drained, as well as my laptop - all trying to keep the phones juiced up during this day of too many changes of plans.
4:30 we decided to head on back to the train station. But it was now raining quite heavily. We might have asked an employee to call a cab for us, but we were still out of Euros. Hemming and hawing about what to do, we saw the rain had abated, so we just set out on foot. Brisk early morning 5k jaunt, that was. When we got close to the train station - which in Lindau is inexplicably located on an island like peninsula in Lake Constance, we decided to cut through the residential /shopping blocks instead of going around. What a cute cobble stoned old town development - and quite large judging from the more than a dozen blocks we had to wind through to get to the station. Our whole trip took about 45 minutes, but was well lit the whole way so felt secure, and the rain was never more than a mist.
Got our luggage, and onto our 3 trains to get to St Gallen at 7:30 am with 0 incidents. It was the beginning of a new day! Albeit a day that started with us going directly to bed when we got to Antonella's.