2014-01-22 48 8
A roadside forest near Villingen.
- Be at Zurich main station early to buy tickets and funny European currency.
- Train from rail 11 at 11.05am to Singen.
- Buy some lunch – supposed to be very cheap in Germany.
- Train from rail 1 at 12.14 to Vilingen.
- Train from rail 3 at 13.08 to Marbach West.
- Arrive at 13.11.
- Walk along the Autobahn to the hashpoint.
"Marbach West near Villingen-Schwenningen, you say?", the clerk at the station counter asked with a puzzled look. Calamus might as well have asked for platform 9¾. "Are you sure it's not in your systems?" "We have a Marbach, north of Stuttgart. Does that work too?" "Not really. Can you check one graticule further to the west?" "Pardon me?" "I mean… can you just give me a ticket to Villingen so I can walk from there?" The clerk did so, and much to Calamus's surprise, he managed to keep the price below a hundred francs. Calamus had planned to buy lunch in Germany, but after everything he'd heard about German food quality (allegedly, an untrained stomach might not be able to cope with it, but that might be a cliché), he bought a little food to go, just to be on the safe side, changed some money for pastel euro bills and boarded the train.
The station of Singen looked pretty much like a Swiss station, except that it was rather dirty, stank, and lacked ramps for people with a mobility handicap. On the other hand, every stairway had a luggage conveyor belt, which must be really useful for heavy suitcases. Calamus bought a coffee, which was surprisingly good, and boarded the next train. He had done two expeditions to Germany before, but this was the first one by train. German trains are a little narrower than Swiss trains, but just as comfortable. Also, Calamus was happy to find that the myth of German trains not having a wastebin next to each seat was wrong, they are just smaller. The view from the train was very veried and nice – in Switzerland, every inch of non-wooded land along rail tracks is cultivated, and therefore quite boring. But here, there was a variety of natural land forms with vegetation Calamus had never seen before, and if one ignored the trash lying about (Calamus learned the word Schrottplatz – "place where we throw our waste and then forget about it") it was indeed a marvelous view.
Villingen was rather unspectacular, and Calamus proceeded to the just as unspectacular Marbach. Fortunately, the smell was much better away from the station. The road could have passed as a Swiss one, except once again for the omnipresent litter. Curiously, there were wastebins placed in reasonable distances from each other, but apparently nobody cared.
Since Calamus's GPS device didn't have any German maps on it, he was blind to the terrain and only knew the distance and direction to the hashpoint. That's why he pretty much wandered about aimlessly and had to dash across a railroad and an Autobahn to correct his path. And right in front of that random spot in the railroad, in the middle of nowhere, he saw it: the cadaver of an owl, brutally impaled by a wooden stake. Who the hell had done that? Either somebody was terribly afraid of owl revenants, or this was a whole new level of sadism. It definitely wasn't a lure, since any kind of trap would have been visible. There wasn't much Calamus could do, so he continued to the hashpoint.
The forest was peculiarly dense and had its floor covered in smooth moss like a fluffy rug. After a bit of searching, Calamus easily reached the hashpoint and took his pictures.
On his return to Villingen, he felt hunger take over his senses. Since he didn't feel brave enough to try €1 pizza, he looked for an upper-class restaurant (he would have never done this in Switzerland, since upper-class would be the last word to describe him, but here it seemed like the best option). Even there, the prices wouldn't have bought a salad in Zurich, but unfortunately, all of them had their kitchens closed during the afternoon, and Calamus was hungry now. So in the end, he got himself a kebap, which cost a fraction of what he'd given the beggar in front of the shop (hey, he didn't meet many beggers usually) and was actually edible with reasonable effort if he stopped wondering about the meat's provenance (the clerk didn't know, which wasn't a good sign). He purged the taste with an apple turnover from a bakery (less than €1, but remarkably good).
Maybe it was an illusion, but when he looked out into the rising darkness from the train, he felt something in his stomach behaving funny. He tried to ignore it and concentrated on some math problems.
The fact that Calamus threw up that evening is not necessarily attributable to the kebap, the owl cadaver or Germany. In fact, he had felt slightly sick even in the morning.
Swiss traveller's tips for Germany:
- Bring your own food
- Also bring a large trash bag (you won't be able to carry everything to the bin by hand)
- Bring an adapter (Europe has its own outlets)
- The greeting is pronounced [haˈlo], not [haɪ̯l] as in the movies.
- At least in the south there are really beautiful German dialects (especially if you like postalveolar fricatives!)
- Don't bring a lot of money (difficult to spend there)
| Calamus achieved level 7 of the Minesweeper Geohash achievement
| Calamus earned the Border geohash achievement