Day 1 : Mumbai to Dortmund
Ah its time to put in a more detailed post . Its going to be a mini-travelogue of sorts.
2nd May ’06 : Mumbai Airport, Dad drops me off at the airport and fortunately the check-in for the flight has started even though its still 4 a.m. . I fill up embarkation card and check in, and go through the immigration check. For no good reason,
Immigration guy asks : “Kaha jaa rahe ho?” …
thinking in my head “Germany ki flight se Japan jaa raha hoon”…
but I say with a bored expression…
ImmGuy : “Kyon ?”
Me : “Pehle gaya nahin isiliye”…
Think he got the idea…so onwards I go the lounge area for security check. That have’nt started it yet , and I look for a comfy place to camp with a coffee when a familiar face goes by. I look carefully, and it turns out to be Mandira Bedi. Mandira Bedi with a horrible early morning frown , fully clothed and with no make-up, I might add. It was like the worst end of what can potentially be an enjoyable situation. But after wasting a lot of time about 2 hours watching a few kids play their Nintendo gameboxes, I finally get onto the plane…and voila we leave on time.
Now, Air India is not the best experience to fly, everyone knows that. Air Hostesses that remind me of neighbourhood aunties, almost force me to stare at the screen showing “Bluffmaster”. But then luckily I have an aisle seat and the two seats beside me are empty and I can turn up the armrests and sleep away the flight.
Arrival in Frankfurt and a quick pass through customs is fast. Man, Frankfurt is a huge airport. And its got train stations as part of the airport. Too cool. Anyway, I go to the train reservation office and buy a ticket to Dortmund , and as I am waiting on Frankfurt-Flughafen for the train ( the InterCity Express at a whopping 250 kmph) 25 minutes later, a guy comes by with luggage and sits on the same bench.
NewGuy : Tag! Nimmst du diesen Zug?
Me : Ich kann nicht Deutsches sprechen.
NG: Oh, hello. I am Wilmar…
And so on, it turned out he was an agricultural scientist from Brazil and had studied in Germany a long time ago. Not very good at English, but he knew German well and explained to me the meanings of a few words. Accents were a problem and so we had to spell out what were talking about 🙂 .
For eg:, he would talk about his Koosan, and it took some time to figure out, that thats the Potuguese pronounciation for “cousin”. 😀
He was going to Koeln (Cologne) to meet his collaborator. It was good company, got to know something about Brazil and Germany and the train ride was most scenic. The particular route I took goes from Frankfurt, up the Rheine river , to Dortmund via Mainz, Bonn, and Koeln.
Typical European countryside, picturesque settings and the Rheine…it was too good.
So anyway, I reached Dortmund at about 5.30 and since the place I was going to stay in, Jugendgaestehaus Adolf Kopling was just a few minutes away, I decided to take a walk through the main shopping street of Dortmund (Westernhellweg)…at first glance it looked like a typical European street with shops etc…but more interesting things showed up over the next few days. Anyway, I got to the youth hostel after about 30 minutes due to my wanderings and then checked in. The term Youth Hostel is misleading if one thinks of a “hostel” in Indian terms. Its much more like a Hotel. Apparently, its only called a Hostel because some people put up residence there for the entire duration of the course, and meals are offered in house.
So anyway, after that I took a bath and made phone calls to home and Pooja, and headed out to check out nearby places.
Didnt know then that 6.30 is close to Dinner time in Germany, and people were already into their houses…so I returned to the youth hostel and went into slumber.