2009-04-21 47 9

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Tue 21 Apr 2009 in 47,9:
47.4596380, 9.4307052

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The place is in a meadow or paddock at Mörschwil near Sankt Gallen, and is fenced.

Expedition by Ekorren[edit]

For some reason (family obligations) I would be at Friedrichshafen around noon, and have no appointments for the rest of the day. So, going hashing somewhere would be nice, but where? German points were either so near to my home that it would be almost going back and then on to a hash, or out of reach. But - going to Switzerland is probably worth the trip, and that point near Sankt Gallen looked like it could be reachable.

It took longer than planned at Friedrichshafen and I missed the ferry I had planned to take. When I finally got away, I went to the harbour and tried to convince myself that, with the remaining time, I should probably do something else and not go to Switzerland, but failed as I hadn't prepared for anything else. So, a few minutes before the next boat left, I bought an Euregio daypass for the eastern part of Lake Constance, boarded the ferry and went on my quest.

Living several hundred kilometres from the next ocean, in a continent that has almost no major lakes, taking a boat to go somewhere other than a touristical roundtrip is something very special. More so, if it isn't just to cross a river at one of the few places where there hasn't been a bridge built yet but a significant trip of 45 minutes and 12 km. So, although the weather was slightly hazy and the magnificient view on the Alps you sometimes get there was totally spoiled, I really enjoyed the ride.

When the ferry docked at Romanshorn, it was slightly late and I really had to hurry up to catch my train to Rorschach. Luckily, there were no border patrols at this side.

Now, I admit: I could have left the train at Horn, taking a bus from there to Mörschwil and arriving one hour earlier than I really did. But that one would be rather boring if compared to the alternative route: by train along the lake to Rorschach, and from there with a rack railway up into the mountains. From 398 to 796 m above sea level, that is. Swiss people would hardly call that mountains, with being used to the Alps and all, but calling those steep landmarks hills doesn't sound right either.

A few minutes before 16:00, the train reached the Appenzeller Land, an area known for its beautiful landscape and delicious cheese. However, I can buy the cheese also at home, and was running a bit low on time, so I just got off at the peak station of Heiden and didn't take any more time up here. I didn't have a timetable itinerary for this time as I had planned to get here at least one hour earlier, but in civilized areas of Switzerland, one can almost rely on every traffic going at least on an hourly base during the day, so I just went for the bus station - or rather, first asked at the railway ticket office where that would be and then hurried.

The bus to St. Gallen turned out to be a double decker and I even got a seat in the front row just above the driver. Another enjoyable 25 minutes ride along a rural road through the mountains, until the bus reached a suburb of St. Gallen. From there, a local bus would go very near to the hash.

At 16:35 I got off the bus only a few hundred metres from the hash and, to my great disappointment, found - a fence. Even a double one. It seems the apple tree meadow is also used as a cow paddock, although no cows were present just now. I took a look around but couldn't find any open entrance, neither I could find anyone to ask for admission, so I called it a fail. And since I had some time left until the next bus would go to St. Gallen, took a walk into the village centre where I missed it and had to wait for another one.

Now, St. Gallen is quite famous as a town, even a UNESCO world heritage site - and I had a bit of time left. Sadly, what I didn't have was any kind of preparation so I probably missed the famous sights on my walk through the town. Also, the last ferry I could take would leave at 20:36 from Romanshorn, so time was a bit low as well.

After some stroll around town, I went for a train to Romanshorn and boarded the ferry again. Clouds at the horizon covered the sunset, it got colder again, but still, it was a pleasant ride into the darkness of the lake. When the ferry arrived back at Germany, it was a few minutes late again and that was when problems started...

I only had two and a half minutes left to get from the ferry terminal to the harbour train station. So I ran. One of the two ways to get to the station fast... as I knew them. What I didn't know was a new fence, and that it wouldn't be possible to get around that one fast. So I went for desperate measures and jumped over a low hedge. Running on, I noticed that I had lost something on that jump but believed it was only a piece of unimportant paper...

... but, having reached the train in the very last moment, checking the luggage, I noticed it was more than that, and that I had lost something important and valuable. So I had to go back by all means and pick up the lost items. There still was another connection from the central station anyway, but it would require me to buy an expensive excess ticket and I wouldn't be home before 2 am with that, but there was no choice. After all, the excess ticket was still much cheaper than replacing the items lost. I found a bus back to the harbour, got out the flashlight, was lucky to find everything I had lost, and walked back to the central station to catch the later train to Ulm.

Around midnight I reached Ulm. My train to Plochingen was announced being 15 minutes late, and I'd have only 7 minutes to change train there, so I already smelled more problems coming up and went to the service counter. They phoned to organize that I would get home anyway, either by letting the train wait at Plochingen or organizing for other transport. Told me to contact the conductor on the train to Plochingen which I did and got told: Everything is set up, the train to Tübingen will wait for us. So, no need for a taxi voucher.

Which it didn't. And since there is no railway personell present at Plochingen station during the night, there was noone we (that is, me and another passenger with the same problem I met on the platform) could blame and ask for alternative transport. And the next train wouldn't leave before half past five in the morning.

So I ended up sharing a very expensive taxi with that other passenger, reaching home around 2:30, and just sent a letter to the railway company claiming back the money I paid for the taxi. They should have to pay because it was definitely their fault that I missed the train at Plochingen, but you never know what kind of excuse they think up.

Lessons learned:

  • Go there again with more time, to see what's worth seeing
  • Shops in Switzerland close much earlier than in Germany, so buy your food in time
  • Don't take the ferry if you really need to catch a train
  • Don't take shortcuts unless you checked their availability recently
  • German rail customer service fails if you really need it (ok, I knew that)
  • Taxi drivers don't like credit cards so always have a lot of cash with you