European Adventure 2011 - Day Nine: Traveling to Tübingen

Posted by Amy O. , Monday, May 16, 2011 4:55 PM

So, trying to put the horrible night train behind us, but too exhausted to make use of a five-hour wait for the next train by seeing any more of Paris, we hung out until noon at the Gare du Nord awaiting our next reserved train which would take us to Cologne, Germany, as we begun Phase 2 of our Adventure, "Meeting with Moltmann".  If you missed it in previous posts, Patrick had arranged to study with Dr. Jürgen Moltmann during the second week of our trip, as part of his dissertation preparation, so we were headed to the university town of Tübingen.

It was quite the ordeal making reservations that could get us from Toulouse to Tübingen and only use one day of a Eurail pass, and get us there by a time that wasn't too annoying to the hotel staff.  I had navigated the reservation website as best as possible, but I soon learned that I hadn't done it quite well enough.  When we were finally in our seats on the train, about to take off, something struck me.  The departure board had said that we were going through Bruxelles.  Bruxelles is French for Brussels.  And Brussels is in Belgium.

And our Eurail passes didn't cover Belgium.

They only covered France, Germany, and Czech Republic.

I started to panic, alerted Patrick, and frantically dug out my Eurail Pass Traveler's Guide.  I found what I had vaguely remembered reading, that if any of your trains took you through a country that was not covered by your pass, you needed to purchase tickets for that leg of the journey.  And that you should do it in the train station as it would be more expensive on the train.

Ummm, too late.  That might have been a good thing to do while waiting at Gare du Nord for FIVE HOURS.  This was too much for my sleep deprived brain to handle.  How much were they going to charge us? (I am imagining huge sums of money.)  Would they kick us off the train at the first stop?  How could do this to me?  They knew what countries my pass covered!  Why didn't they warn me when I made the reservation?  I had been betrayed and suckered!!!!  What kind of evil conspiracy against innocent travelers was this???  ARGGGGHHH!!  

So, I confess, I lost it.  I just buried my head in my hands and cried for the first time on the trip (and, fortunately, what would be the only time on the trip).  Patrick was already aggravated by the night train experience; I was sure he would be ticked that I was upset.  But was he?  No.  He was perfect and wonderful.  Instead of being irritated, he took my hand, validated my feelings, and said a prayer for us, entrusting the present frustrations to God.  :::sigh::: I love this man.

And, of course, all worked out.  The ticket checker came around and we had to pay 20 euros each extra for our excursion into Belgium.  It sucks, because that was an extra $60 combined, but compared to what I was imagining (200 euros each or something!), it was a huge relief.  So we just let it go, paid the man, and decided to be smarter in the future.  You know, the next time we go cavorting around Europe.

We were then able to settle in and enjoy the train ride, with some snacks & some SkipBo.

We enjoyed the transition into Germany, immediately remarking the differences from France (helpfulness of paid employees and overall cleanliness being foremost - sorry, France, but you know I love you).  After 22 hours since we left Toulouse, we found ourselves in the enchanting town of Tübingen, and dragged our tired bodies & luggage to the Hotel Am Bad, which would be our home for the next week. 
Too worn out to do any searching, we asked the dear man at the front desk if there was a restaurant nearby.  Indeed, just down the block, there was a "Canadian and Caribbean restaurant" (Reefs) which, of course, cracked us up.  
Exhausted and undoubtedly smelly, we experienced our first meal out with a language barrier and were too delusional to care much that we were in Germany eating what was purportedly Canadian food.  Patrick had the Oregon pork and I had a gourmet burger (which came with a fried egg).  Other selections included meat from Texas & New York.  And they say Americans are bad at geography ;-).

In any case, the meal was AMAZING, and we even delighted in some mousse au chocolat to finish off - which surprisingly I had not had while in France, though I had tried.  So far, Germany was earning a lot of points with us.

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