Deutschland, bitte.
 

The second leg of les Verts’ European adventure took them, and us, to France’s immediate eastern neighbor.  Every one of us – Nez, Riot, Nez’s sister, Joie, her husband, and their three children whose noms de web are, in order, Eurogrl, Kingskid, and Berryana – would now be a tourist.  And, before we rendezvous with Nez’s dad, who had flown to Germany directly from the States, we would be largely helpless with our feeble German, or the lack of it.  Yet, no one was really thinking about that minor inconvenience; we were all looking forward to exploring the German countryside as a sort of family reunion.  And, if it helps, our German adventure could be thought of as a castle tour with interesting train stories. 

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Things that happened on a German train.  Part 4.

Itinerary:

•  Heidelberg - Mannheim

        13:14-13:29
•  Mannheim - Paris Est
        13:41-16:50

24 May 2008.  Nothing happened on either of the German trains we took today.  Nothing except keeping an eye on all the bags and keeping track of all of the members of the party in an unusually crowded train to make sure we all got off at the Mannheim station.  Nothing on the trains at least; no funny or interesting story to report.

As we all began our trek home, there was no father-daughters huddle to discuss the route today.  Maybe because we were only going one stop together before the Kaiser would leave us to catch a direct flight home out of Frankfurt.  There was little banter among us on the train ride.  Maybe because we were spread throughout the car and Joie and her family would only go with us as far as Paris before detouring to a hotel near Disneyland Paris for the night before catching their own flight home out of CDG.

 
And then there we were, in an underground passageway beneath the platforms, saying goodbye to the Kaiser.  Trains provide a unique portal wherein sometimes others enter our lives, if only briefly, to effect a noteworthy encounter or an amusing memory and then they leave.  We had had our fair share of both on this trip and in Mannheim, the one leaving our portal was not a stranger at all.  We should have been glad that our trip home was only a little over three hours and not a long transatlantic flight but we weren’t.  Nez did not hold back the tears as she embraced her dad in that concrete tunnel.

When we got up to our platform we looked over to the Kaiser’s platform, perhaps to give one last wave, but did not see him.  In about a dozen hours or so, that distance would go from the width of two train tracks to over 5,000 miles.  In Paris, we said another sad goodbye, this time to les Verts.  Perhaps, the trouble with living in a place one considers to be paradise is the absence of loved ones living nearby.
 
It’s time to go but it was a great trip:
Saying goodbye the same way we said hello.
 
 

 

 
 

Endnote:  
Traveling in style with the Kaiser.


Great travel makes for great learning.  On this memorable trip, the Kaiser imparted upon us many things, among which was the art of dressing the part.  

   White hat, preferably one with an unaffiliated corporate logo:  Absolutely essential to shield your head against the midday sun.  Goes well with your white tennis shoes, helps others in your party to spot you from a distance, and useful on bad-hair days.

   Sunblock:  Apply early and often to all uncovered surface areas.  It is unbecoming to have the locals think that you’ve already had a few pints to drink before lunch.

   Lightweight waterproof jacket:  Think functional; avoid exciting colors.  Low-profile beige is recommended to help you blend in with your surroundings (e.g., castle walls, roads, factories, etc.).

   Neck wallet (hidden):  Technically not a money belt, it affords the priceless peace of mind of knowing that everything of any value is sweating it out with you on that steep hike up to the castle.  Feel free to lift up your shirt to get money or card to pay for things; it’s OK, they know you’re a tourist and are laughing at you anyway.

   Camera pouch:  Temporary storage for your camera when you’re not clicking away at everything that’s anything for the family slide show back home on Thanksgiving.  The strap provides a convenience place to hook accessories (e.g., umbrellas, fanny packs, etc.).

  Fanny pack:  For the little, unimportant things that don’t fit in your many pockets.  Best worn clipped onto the camera pouch’s strap to distract potential thiefs from the more valuable items.  Go wild when choosing the color to make a bold fashion statement.

  One pair of lightweight convertible pants:  When converted to shorts, they go well with your white tennis shoes.  In a pinch, they can even substitute as swimwear.  Plus, an excessive amount of zippers gives the impression that you're from a country of abundance.

  
Two pairs of shoes:  One pair with comfortable soles and good traction to wear the entire trip; the other, a white pair of tennis shoes that scream “American,” to take up room in your luggage when you're not representing your country.



 
“We have all of this attached,” said the Kaiser in his lunchtime demonstration of good traveling.
 
 
 
 
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Go!
 
Holla
 
 
 
 

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