Tuesday, June 23, 2009

dusseldorf to bratislava

okay, catching up...uneventful flight from LAX to dusseldorf. i had forgotten from my previous flights on berlin air that germans applaud politely once the plane touches down on the tarmac. i have never noticed this anywhere else...anybody got any other nationalities that do this?

landed in dusseldorf, where i spent a day a few years ago at the start of the round the world with annette and amanda trip in 2007. this time i concentrated on getting out of dusseldorf. after eating a delicious sausage in the airport, i set out on a train towards Koln. Or, i thought i was headed towards Koln. turns out i got on a train going the wrong direction and did not figure it out for a few stops. then i got to witness the thrill and splendor of a sleepzy german suburb somewhere northwest of dusseldorf. i fought jetlag as i waited for a train back to the airport to try it all over again. made it back, got on the right train, and made my way an hour to Koln.

my hotel that i had prebooked there in Koln just was not going to work. i saw the proprieteress sizing me up as i walked through the lobby, and i realized the awful truth after looking into the itsy bitsy teeny weeny bathroom...we mutually cancelled my reservation and i went to a more modern place that i had passed while dragging mz luggage from the train station half an hour earlier, through the biting cold wind.

uneventful night at the new hotel, but a delicious breakfast that morning (ham, sausage, strudel, yogurt, fruit, all sorts of good stuff) before i set off for the station for some serious train riding. i validated my eurail pass at the Koln habtauphonof (station) and hurried through the terminal to track 7, where a train that would take me directly to vienna would be leaving in five minutes at 0945.

note some of the keys are in different places on these austrian keyboards, particularly y and z, so bear with me...

rode all day on the train, out of the industrial rhineland area of germany, where the manufacturing facilies of bonn, frankfurt, dusseldorf, and koln dominated the landscape. the industries gave wazy to a scenic two hour stretch of railroading wherein we were clinging to the edge of the rhine river below us, through rolling hills and semi tall mountains. that gave way to more rolling hill country as we entered bavaria, and then we hitched ourselves alongside the danube river as the train made its way to vienna.

it would have been nice to see some of vienna, but it was 7 p.m. by the time i got there, and bratislava, slovakia, where i had reseved a hotel room for the next three nights, was still an hour and a half away. as was the case in st. petersburg and moscow two summers ago, it got dark really late, so it was still daylight as i took a crosstown cab from vienna west station, where i had arrived, to vienna south station, from where the train to bratislava would depart.

i got ripped off by the taxi driver who took me from the bratislava petrovosky station to the hotel, according to the cute girl at reception, but i did not sweat it that much, as it had been a long day and i was ready to hit the sack.

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