This summer Peter and I went on an adventure to Europe. With the help of a stellar memory and my obsessive journalling, I’m sharing those adventures with you.
From Paris we caught a night train back to Germany. This was our longest train trip but, in many ways, our most fun. From Paris to Hamburg was about 15 hours on an overnight train. I was not looking forward to this trip, expecting it to be similar to our overnight trip from Duisburg to Bern – sitting up, uncomfortable, listening to strangers snore. So we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had bunks on this train.
We were in a berth with four other people – six bunks in total. Peter and I had the top two, across from each other. The bunk is supplied with a sheet, a pillow, and a blanket and you make it up yourself. The sheet was very German and confusing but the bed was decently comfortable. More so for me than for Peter, who is over six feet tall.
Since there wasn’t much room to sit up in our bunks, we headed out to the dining car to get a beer. There we found that the only cash we had on us was a 50 euro note. European vendors tend to prefer as close to exact change as possible so we weren’t sure if we’d be able to get anything. But we asked the bartender politely. He was a burly, tattooed German with good English.
“Okay,” he said to Peter, “As long as I get a smile from your wife.”
I gave him my prettiest smile and a thank you and we got our beers.
The dining car was crowded and so we headed all the way to the back of the train (the caboose, if you will) which was a luggage car but held only a couple of bikes. A few people were hanging out back there already. Peter and I started in on our beer. One of the men sneezed.
“Gesundheit,” said Peter. The man began to explain, in French, that he didn’t speak German and then we tried to explain that we spoke neither French nor German. The French man and his wife motioned to our beers, portraying that a drink was a good idea. They left the car, only to return in a moment with 2 small bottles of wine. They lifted their bottles to us and we lifted ours in return. Along with the other man in the car, a German speaker, we each offered a “cheers” in our own language and then tried out each others’ languages amidst laughter. It was an entirely wonderful moment of international communication.
Two more quick trains from Hamburg and we reached Bad Segeberg. This is a small city in northern Germany and we were visiting friends there before we ended our European Adventure and headed home. I hadn’t met these friends yet but they are a family that Peter’s known for a long time. It was great to meet these people I’d heard so much about and who had influenced my husband in his younger days.
We spent a day in nearby Lubeck, a port town with a lot of history to it.
Because of its location on the water, Lubeck was traditionally very wealthy. They traded in exotic things like almonds. To make the almonds last longer the people of Lubeck invented a little something called marzipan.
A person who likes marzipan could have a field day in Lubeck. Looking at marzipan, tasting marzipan, buying marzipan. If you’re like me and you don’t like almond-flavoured things, you can eat ice cream and still be happy.
Our German friends also introduced us to an Italian treat called “spaghetti ice”. So while my marzipan-loving husband might have been happier, I did okay.
We also learned that Germans will not allow you to order pancakes for breakfast because that is clearly a dessert item.
Before we headed home we got to dip our toes in another sea – this time the Baltic. Literally, all I did was dip my toes. It was cold. But my brave husband went swimming.
And then…a few more trains and back to Frankfurt and on a warm Friday afternoon we found our way back to Vancouver and the Coast.
Already, Peter and I hope to travel in Europe again. It may not happen in the near future but that continent has not seen the last of us.
Thanks for coming along on our adventures!