I am on my third train from Paris to Berlin and 26 hours into my journey as I write this. I regret that I was out of touch for so long, and further regret that you probably won’t get this for at least 3-10 more hours when I connect to the network.
Allow me to share with you a story of one mans trip from the city of lights…
The scene opens in a cozy Paris apartment in the 11th arrondismont, where our hero has taken pains to make sure he has everything he came with and packs the new shirts he bought into his luggage as well. Noting that he may have to either jettison some clothing or get another bag he packs himself an overflow bag with toiletries a hat and an overshirt.
The temperature is a blazing 80 degrees Farenheit, though it is dropping ever so slightly as the promise of rain in the evening threatens to make our hero’s journey a moist one. (more on that later) Our hero, does not relish the idea of going to Berlin on what may be the highest temperature on record (well over 90 degrees) and on a Sunday to boot, but the night train was his only reasonable option.
He arrives at the station on time, and finds his cabin empty! Six empty bunks, and him not in the middle again. The train pulls out, his bed made and after a sufficient wait for the conductor the distant memory of a concessions car rolls through his mind. After passing through no less than six cars on a moving train he finds an amazingly long line to a poor girl working alone in the corner of a car. Passing time with the chatty asian boy from Chicago and the rest of the French and German tourists he makes it to the front of the line and finds himself with a crappy pilser beer and a cheeze and pickle-relish sandwich. Such is life the French would say, but they would say it in French and it would sound much better.
The hero of this story heads back to the car and opens the door to his cabin to find two little blonde girls occupying the top bunks on either side. Thinking he is in the wrong place he excuses himself and steps back into the corridor, checking both the car number and the cabin number. Yes, this is where he shall sleep tonight. He re-enters the cabin and sees the father in the middle on the right, he is the lower on the left, and papa is crashed out.
All is fine he negotiates lighting with the little German girls and continues reading book three of Game of Thrones. Not to spoil anything but he is feeling particularly flummoxed by having a lack of a hero at this point. Anyhow he reads a bit and then goes to sleep, only to be woken by the most massive thunderstorm he has ever seen in Europe. As a lad our hero grew up in tornado country and these clouds, thunder, lightening and rain were an eerie reminder of the power of nature when the train stops.
Our hero asks himself, “Why would a train stop like so? Is it unsafe to go so fast in a thunderstorm? Are there whirlwinds ahead?” After a moment of consternation our hero is again struck by the beauty of the landscape and the forces of nature and lets it pass. He sleeps as the storm subsides, waking occasionally because papa snores like a sawmill but generally getting some good rest.
In the morning our hero learns the true reason for the stop: Aliens! Greys, with big almond eyes and a taste for cow probing… no wait that is another story. The true reason is that trees had fallen, knocked over by high winds and lightening and crews had been clearing them. Further he learns that they had only traveled 2 hours of a 12 hour trip. The power was out, the situation desperate (the toilets on the train flush by electricity, which was out). Then the BAD news: the conductor had been murdered and everyone was to be held for questioning. (did you fall for it that time?) Perhaps just the engine had been damaged and a replacement had been sent for. The train was towed back to the nearest station where they served our hero a prisoners diet of water and coffee with cream and sugar. Then came the free croissants and coffee, and then the care packages of snacks and food. Where was our heros beloved beer?
Knowing this would take time, our daring captain of adventure begins writing, he writes a reply, and then another, he decides to dally with a game but is horribly let down by the DRM on his games that demand to phone home, and after he so carefully set them up a week ago. This was not the first time he was left in a lurch. He then begins working on a 3D model, does some more writing and then the train starts moving, yes dear reader, you read this correctly they got a new locomotive and engineer and started the train again. He sped for the German border (well if you can call 30 mph speeding).
After a few hours of travel at the speed of one of those carts that Floridians and fat old people ride in (no offense intended to the ample of body or to the aged, but there is no excuse to live in Floriduh) the announcements start rolling in…
This train is no longer going to Berlin, in fact everyone must get off at Mannheim. After an urgent conversation with a conductor, our brave stalwart learns that he can take a regular high speed train to Berlin scheduled to land him at about 1 am, a mere 17 hours late. Will he be able to find a place to stay? Will he alienate the people who want to help him? Stay tuned for the next installment of “Bald Man In Black Rides a Train in Europe…..”