Try as we might, for three years now, we have never been able to make the return trip from a German summer festival a very enjoyable experience. And maybe it’s because I’m getting older, I don’t know, but I found this year to be a particularly grueling trip.
We set out well before the break of dawn as we got up at 4:45 AM to pack up our belongings and get ready. Everybody were tired, worn out from the day before, grumpy and cold, it was a mess, really and none of us were probably feeling too on top of things as we found our places on the 6 AM shuttle bus back to Koblenz and to civilization. The trip itself was pretty uneventful save for the fact that we bumped into a fellow Dane who was obviously as wrecked as we were and not a bit more talkative either.
We arrived in Koblenz at around 7 AM, facing a 4+ hour wait before our train departed. Apparently in our confusion we had misread our departure time on the tickets and now faced a long grueling walk. Being back in civilization was great and all, but there’s really not a hell of a lot to do in Koblenz when you’re tired, worn down, smelly and just want to go home to your bed. We spent most of the time just crashing on the hard concrete floor of the railroad terminal, not really talking and alternately drifting off to sleep for a few minutes at a time. My most exciting adventures of the morning included searching for breakfast and standing in line to use the toilet for almost an hour, only to realize that they were fresh out of toilet paper by the time I got to have a go.. Wonderful!
Finally our train did arrive, only ever so slightly late. We boarded, found our reserved seats and settled down.. Only to realize that the air conditioning in our carriage had very conveniently decided to stop working. This of course made the trip a bit of a pain at least for those of us who didn’t fall asleep almost immediately and slept through most of it – lucky girls! The only upside to the whole miserable situation was that I managed to score us some free, fancy, bottled water – an entire liter of the stuff for our six hour journey! Apparently Deutsche Bahn cared about us enough to not want us to collapse from heat stroke, but not enough to make us feel loved or appreciated.
After many a long, hot but otherwise rather uneventful hour, the air con eventually kicked back on – just before our planned stop in Hamburg where we were to switch trains. What luck!
We had a short layover in Hamburg which was spent crashing and moping, and in Tina’s case, getting some food. We then let out a small cheer as conditions went from bad to worse as we boarded a small, bumpy, crowded, smelly and worn down local train from Hamburg to.. Denmark! Well, Denmark by about an inch anyways. Our next destination was the small border town of Padborg situated right on the Danish side of the Danish/German border.. And oh what a beautiful ride it was.. I’m being sarcastic here in case you couldn’t tell. I’d snatched a seat next to Tina and we spent the ride sharing her fruity lunch, watching pictures from the trip, chatting sparingly and napping every now and then. Rather a weird experience, I remember thinking, Tina and I spending a day together and barely talking to one another.. Yup, rather weird indeed.
We eventually made it to the sleepy border town of Padborg after what seemed like the longest journey ever with many a little stop along the way. We were now less than an hour away from home and had but one train change and a small layover before we were home, but somehow that didn’t serve to make us much less miserable. For whatever weird reason, the constant waiting, occasional stops and small layovers only get more annoying the closer you get to home geographically speaking. The main upside to having crossed the border to our home country seemed to be that it livened all of us up considerably, and so we actually spent the last hour or so of the trip talking to one another – not in a very intelligent manner, mind you, following a week of heavy metal, intoxication and a general lack of sleep – but still.. Talking! Hooray!
After what seemed like a small eternity, the train finally called at Kolding train station and we tumbled out of our seats, grabbed our luggage and jumped off the train, nearly toppling over from fatigue as we touched terra firma. Luckily for the girls, they had the arms of their respective boyfriends to tumble into while I, myself, settled for a bench. “Holy crap, Johan, you look great!,” cried Tina’s boyfriend, Jeppe, apparently referring to my newfound tan and beard. “I highly doubt that,” I mumbled tiredly and rather rudely, “and I’m pretty sure I smell like ass as well.. But thanks none the less!” – From then on I kinda just zoned out, rather worn out from the whole experience and a little overwhelmed by all the sudden commotion. I remember shaking hands with the boys and hugging the girls goodbye, then staggering home..
By way of a local sandwich bar where I picked up a large sandwich and a dinner salad.. On account of those being the only things I could find that mildly resembled real food which was really what I needed after a week of shitty junk food but had absolutely no energy for cooking myself. So a takeout substitute would have to do..
When I finally made it home, the first thing to do was to get all my wet, dirty clothes out of my bag and into the washer, I then threw my shoes in the trash, undressed and went under the hot shower for about an hour or so – okay, that’s exaggerating things a little, but it was a surprisingly long, surprisingly nice shower, and after twenty odd minutes, the water running into the drain was actually clean, not dirty!
Having come out of the shower, I kept up with the old tradition and opened one last cheap can of beer and downed it along with my ridiculously large meal which, I’ll have to admit, tasted surprisingly good on top of the crap I’d eaten in the last week. I then, finally, bid the world goodnight and laid down for the first real bit of uninterrupted sleep I’d had it almost a week.. A nice little ten hour nap!
And so another German summer festival, our third, was in the history books. It was more straining this time around, definitely. We are definitely getting older and the comfort levels (or lack thereof) is getting a little more straining to deal with.. But it was also a ton of fun and a great experience. Thank you to all for making this happen and helping in making it an awesome trip! \m/