Black Forest - Day 6 : The return journey
It was the last morning. This time my shoes weren't frozen. Around 9 we left towards Freiburg station, which still was a 4 km walk. The bus of the Russian state ballet was parked there, but we didn't have time for that. We were happy neither of us had jumped into a ravine... or gotten pushed. We clearly noticed we had been outside in the fresh are for a week. Everything in the city smelled bad. They did have good bike shops, one sold a 3 person tandem bike for only 8700 euros.
We bought two tickets to Aachen, just south of the Netherlands. Getting there would involve two layovers. Bart was paying. His credit card didn't work in the ticket machine, so we needed to go to a nearby ATM. After getting 200 euros it turned out we needed to pay exact change, which meant he needed to get other types of bills. Meanwhile the money we had already put in the ticket machine started coming out because we took too long. These problems were still peanuts to the ones we ran into later.
There was the option to pay 4 euros extra per ticket to reserve a specific seat. As we would only be in the train for an hour we didn't. It did turn out to be pretty crowded in the train but we managed to find a booth with 6 seats of which only three were reserved.
It had been quite the struggle to get Bart's backpack in the top rack, so I just left mine on the floor. Just when we were finished a lady walked in and started yelling at us in German. She had reserved a place and, although there were 3 free spots (there was one other lady with us), we apparently sat on her reserved seat, next to the window. We were confused, because we had purposely left the window seat that was reserved free. She claimed she had reserved both window seats, one for herself and one for her _dog_. We had a hard time not laughing. We explained that the other window seat wasn't reserved but that we didn't mind moving. She said she didn't mind to sit somewhere else, but out of principle was upset that we had taken a reserved seat. At that point we had enough and stopped paying attention to her. She said down next to the window and kept looking at us, the mean people who prevented her dog from having a window seat.
An hour later we left the train and took another one from Karlsruhe to Cologne. We discovered those also had reserved seats, hopefully nobody would come in. The first two hours nobody came. I had bought a cake in Freiburg which I wanted to start cutting, but Bart insisted on doing it for me, as he thought it would be a bad idea to pull out a knife in a train wearing camo-pants.
With two hours left a group of guys entered, wearing pink shirts, rabbit ears, and pink bow ties. Their t-shirts said 'junggesellenabschied', it was a bachelor party. They carried cans of beer and many small bottles with liquor. One of them wanted to sell us some so we each bought one for a euro a piece. We also received a signed photo of the bachelor.
This signature will be worth a lot in the future
It was a lot of fun in the train. There was also a random lady who kissed the groom to be. Not just on his cheek but with her tongue down his throat. Then she repeated it twice and started sharing the bottle of whisky they carried. In Koln she left, together with her two sons.
From Koln we just needed to reach Aken. We bought chocolate and chips for the road. It was dark already and normally we would already have been lying in our sleeping bag for two hours. The party animals had left and there was not much else to do in the train but wait.
From Aken it wasn't possible to go directly to Maastricht, as we had planned, but we could go to Heerlen. That also worked. In the train some lady was on the phone talking to her friend about her work. For literally half an hour she was talking about whom she was going to tell about her new job and what exact story to tell each of them when. Then she said about someone else "yeah you know how people can have a hidden agenda, right?'.
At the station in Weert Bart needed to go to the toilet. Bart had been having a sore stomach the entire day, likely because he only ate eating cookies and granola the entire week. Just when Bart started to get things going in the bathroom we arrived in Eindhoven and needed to get off. He quickly pulled up his pants, ran to get his bag, and managed to get out in time. I was glad I didn't need to check out that bathroom afterwards.
Bart continued his bathroom adventure at the train station and only 20 minutes later we were ready to take the bus home. Despite the non-cooperating machines and people we had made it home in one piece. None of the connections took more than 20 minutes. This time we didn't smell so much that people took notice, which was probably only because it had been too cold to sweat.
Back home we could finally get warm and eat something else than dry cookies and granola, sleeping in a bed also felt pretty nice.
Combined, we had walked less kilometers than expected. On our trip to the Ardennes we easily walked 25 km a day, while this time it was less than 15. That probably was because it got dark soon and walking uphill or through the snow didn't go fast. While we definitely have gotten better at hiking we still need to pay more attention to planning the route and the types of food we bring.
Route of day 6