Day 12, Heidelberg 2

I woke with, you guessed it, pain. I snoozed and kept waking until after 9 where I got up and did the morning routine. Breakfast at Steffis goes until half past ten so I want in any hurry, and then I would have half an hour to walk to the massage place. 

I dawdled, but made it with plenty of time to spare. Inside the woman informed me that my masseuse was sick, and said they have a partner time massage place down the road, which I could go to, and they would handle me. I said sure and asked where was he walked me to the door and gave me and I said I think I come to which she replied that she would walk me to the end of the street. No, that’s okay, but she insisted, so I let her walk me to the end of the street, where she said she could hear that I wasn’t from Germany – she pointed to where I needed to go, and are used Google maps for good measure. 

When I arrived I rang the doorbell and the woman let me in. She asked if I was from across the road, and I said yes. I describe what I wanted, and I went in for the massage. During that time when we were talking I mentioned that I didn’t know a word in German, so she switched to English and began to talk to me for the rest of the massage. It wasn’t nearly as awkward as I thought it was going to be, even when she had the back of my head wedged between the table and her breasts. The Thai massage portion where I was being twisted and contorted around her knees was quite funny for us both. 

She finished and offered me a Tea, with a little coconut chocolate. I sat outside and I had my tea, and then I went back in to pay for it. There I remembered about the thing, which I had forgotten in the past couple of days. I had looked up the tipping culture earlier, and was about as confused as I normally am (this is a lot). So I just thought to myself how much I enjoyed it, and what extra I thought she should get from me. I gave her 40 for a €35 massage so that’s only €5 extra, which is like 10%, right? I said stimmt and she smiled so I hoped that was a good sign as I left. Relaxed. But also sore – for a small Vietnamese woman giving a Thai massage, she was surprisingly strong.

Not pictured, Matt Foster, the embodiment of serenity

From there I went into town and stopped at the department store. I tried on some pants, not quite finding the perfect fit – especially for €90 (like 130 NZ) so I left upstairs to use the toilet. I saw they have a bowl inside for putting money, but I had no 1 euro coins and I didn’t think it was worth 2 euros. Oh the loo, I heard people dropping lots of change, so I got our all my crap coins (which came to 49 euro cents) and paid as I left. The man sitting by the door thanked me, and as I wanted my hands I read the information above the bowl in the mirror. It asked for 50 euro cents. I mean close enough, right?

Out in the cafe I looked at the hot drink options and got confused, no one was there to take my order. I waited a few minutes, and ended up taking a seat. I talked to Amy on Skype for a wee bit, and after I hung up an attendant came by, I guess waiting for me to finish my call. She let me know if I want ordering anything I’d need to leave, so I told her I wanted to but I didn’t know where to pay for it. She said she brings it and I can pay her – so I did and age brought me a receipt and change, saying this way they know I’ve bought something here. I thank her and apologise, then ask if there are theatres in Heidelberg with current films, but she is from Mannheim and doesn’t know, suggesting I google it.  

I stayed a little longer, both to finish my hot chocolate, and to show her that I wasn’t scared of her. Then I left, briefly googling the two cinemas in the area. They weren’t showing the movies I wanted to see, so I decided I would just go back to the hostel. On the way I spotted Rewe, so I went in to grab dinner on the cheap. 
Of course i bought to much. Chocolate milk and other things. I helped an old lady reach something on a high shelf, and headed due the check out. In line, I saw everyone with their recyclable bags and I was like oh crap, will they even have plastic bags?? Fortunately being as well prepared as I am, I had a plastic bag in my side pocket, under my tissues and spare pair of socks. That sorted, I paid and went back to the hostel. 

Back at the hostel I come down, I grab some leaflets downstairs about things you can do in and around Germany, and then I went upstairs to see about booking transport to Munich. I was hoping to see my high school German teacher in a town called Pforzheim, unfortunately after a bit of googling, it seems like it would be a lot cheaper to take a direct bus with a company called FlexiBus, straight from Heidelberg to Munich. This was €15, so under 30 NZ. So it’s like going from Dunedin to Ashburton, only about half the price. Good deal anyway.

I set back in counted of the days spending (almost €90! That makes up for the previous days…), and then had a relaxing evening looking after my sore, but well massaged, back. I had spent most of my time inside, but that’s okay because after breakfast and the massage the sun pretty much disappeared. But you know what? My back didn’t hurt that much this evening. Small victory.

I’ve eaten so many I’ve made a travel bag (and put the bag I bought today in my big bag). They are the Riesen why I’ll be fat one day

After I finally managed to book a room in a hostel in Munich for a few nights over the weekend, I was finally able to contribute relaxing. I watched many episodes of some series I needed to catch up on (all afternoon/evening), ate my bready goods that I had purchased, had a chat to one of my room mates, and finally went to sleep. 


Day 10, Paris – Heidelberg

I woke up ready to go. Did my teeth and hair and had breakfast with Swang, then checked out for the pair of us (just for the record, I owe him €4), and walked with my bags to Gare de l’Est where my train was to depart. 

There I panicked for a little, unable to figure out which is my train based on name or number. Eventually I asked and the guy says 20 minutes. Blue screen. So I go and look at the blue screen again and I’m still confused. I go to a different information desk, this time with a woman, hoping for a little more friendliness. I did not find it there. Again she says 20 minutes, and responds with ‘i don’t know’ when I ask for the gate number. At this point I’m getting my translation app open but she asks the next person and I’m dismissed. 

I sit down and translate the board, figuring out the bits I can’t guess and studying the numbers. Eventually I see that my train is starting service with another, which is why didn’t immediately register the number (that, and the train I’m on goes to Karlsruhe where I change, but it just said Stuttgart on the board). So with that sorted, and my assumptions confirmed that the gate will appear 20 minutes before departure, I waited. The number appeared, I went to the gate. I sat down. I saw each car was numbered and each seat too – but I had a lot of numbers on my printout which was only in German, so I asked a man. 

The following occurs in German unless otherwise noted: 

Excuse me, are you German? 


Do we have places we must sit, like numbers? 

Yes, do you have your ticket? 

(I hand him my ticket) 

Ah ok… Are you French? (Speaks a sentence in French) 

No, English-

(His wife interjects) he just spoke German to you. Speak German! 

Oh right! You’re in carriage 21, seat.. 73.

A man in the row adjacent is laughing and I ask which direction that is – he tells me, I begin to go that way. 

The first man then laughs as he makes fun of the fact he responded in French when I spoke in German. 

I found my seat and sat down, and because of the recent pick pocketing was on edge even though the train was comfortable, spacious, and kind of empty. Eventually at Strasbourg I managed to start relaxing, and noticed I was connecting to which was exciting for me. On the way out of Strasbourg I noticed a couple of.. communities? Where there were ramshackle houses all over the plots. Maybe huts is a better word. In the second set I also saw greenhouses. Google did not enlighten me so I have no idea what they were. 

Then as we moved through into Germany , 4 police officers who had walked to the front of the train began to walk through to check passports. I got a quick look and a thank you before they moved on. 

We pulled into the station at Karlsruhe and waited around a bit, still not yet hungry. Got on the train and stared at the rail map inside until I was sure the train was going the right way, and sat waiting for the train to leave, rudely eavesdropping on conversations now that I can finally understand the language. 

Eventually the train arrived in Heidelberg and I had pre-googled a place to stay called Steffis Hostel, which is really nice. Very homely. I got to the counter and asked to book a room, but once she asked for some ID and she saw my passport, she switched to English and says oh, you’re from New Zealand? She’s been there before she Australia, and is going to do a placement in Dunedin. So we chatted about Dunedin and New Zealand (this did not net me any discounts when it came to adding breakfast unfortunately). 

I got up to my 10 person dorm, claimed and made a bed and had a bit of a sit. It was about twenty to 4 and I realised I was pretty hungry. So I unpacked all my laundry and took it to the desk where I paid €5 to have it washed and dried by someone else, so like 8 bucks. I left and walked across the bridge and sheen the waterfront in the direction of the castle, enjoying the view and taking some photos of the water and castle.

I must have worked up quite the hunger, or at least my eyes did, as I bought a full meal of schnitzel and cheese noodles called Spätzle (in a pepper- cream sauce, said the lactose intolerant), with a salad. Oh, and a boot full of coke. Which is a litre. He took my mostly empty plates away and left me with half a bit of coke for a while until I felt like I could do desert. 

So I walked down the main street of Heidelberg, looking at all the shops and a couple of department stores, nothing what I would like to come back to later. I accidentally went into an ice cream store and got some gelato, Nutella flavor. I then walked back to the hostel and gave Amy a quick Skype (Happy Birthday!!) and got ready for bed. 

One room mate was already there, and was very quiet. Then another came in and asked if she could open the window (she’s German, so in German) – the other guy manages a noise, so I’m not sure where he is from, but I say sure please do. Now I already knew this, but over here they have windows which open towards you from the top as though there hinges are at the bottom. But they all have a trick so you can make them open like regular windows… I just forgot that trick.  

So I watch her open them and wonder how she did it, eventually plucking up the courage to say ‘so, this is a dumb question, but how did you open the window?’ 

She looks at me like I had just dropped my pants and begun to defecate in front of her. Then she laughs and repeats my question, her German maybe a little more fluent sounding than mine (on account of her likely German heritage).

I tell her I tried before but it came towards me, and mimed it working. She showed me what to do and I told her it’s not something we really have in New Zealand (throwing all of us under the bus, as though none of us have ever seen them before). 

In case you want to know, usually a half turn opens them like a regular window. Turn it too far and it opens as though the hinge is at the bottom. 

Matt’s handy hints number 2 
That’s a ploy. You see, now everyone will go hey, what was the first one again? And then scroll through my other posts looking for the first hint.