Travelling abroad is different from traveling in the United States. I have had to learn how to travel in Europe. Perhaps I am learning how not to travel in Europe. I’ve already made my shares of mistakes.
I planned to leave Gütersloh, Germany by train, but which train? My hosts’ youngest son took me to the train station and taught me the difference between local and express trains. The only way to know the difference was either having a timetable (which I didn’t) or reading the letters on the front of the train as it approached.
A local train (multiple stops) is labeled DB, while an express train (limited stops) is labeled either IC, EC, ECE, or ICE. When we got to the station, we learned that my train was going to be late (how late was only a guess). My friend said German trains were very often late (that had not been my understanding). So, he got me on the right platform and left.
The train arrived, I got on, and everybody got off at the next town. There I sat alone but was told to get off. A woman knowing little English tried to tell me why I was confused. I learned that I had been on a local train which was going no further. So, I waited for the express train to come along.
I arrived in Hannover and somehow (I don’t remember) found the train to the airport (I probably asked a number of people😊). After arriving in Hannover initially, that train was on a one-day strike. I wasn’t sure what I would find this second time around. The train was running that day. I stayed in a hotel that night.
My flight to London had an intermediate stop in Frankfurt (a nightmare of an airport). Did this mean my flight was domestic or international? I treated it as international and arrived at the airport 3 hours early. This was long before the agents arrived. I could have shown up at the last minute. So much for trying to do the right thing.
I arrived at London Heathrow airport (an airport crying out for a revamp) without a hitch. Next, I did what few people probably would do. I chose to sit there for 11 hours in order to take a night bus to Manchester. That way I didn’t have to deal with the London Underground (subway system) and I wouldn’t need a hotel that night.
Traveling by Bus
How to travel in Europe has its challenges. I purchased a ticket for 11:50. Whoops. That’s in the morning. I didn’t think to use the 24-hour clock. When I went to change it, that schedule had changed to 0:40 the next day. Not a problem, except that put into a higher price. So, I had to upgrade. Then, I accidently deleted the ticket from my phone, and it took a supervisor in the bus station a load of time to get me a new ticket. Oh, for the days when I had a printer!
I arrived in Manchester early in the morning, even before the bus station restrooms were open. When they did open, I couldn’t get in without depositing a coin. I had no British money. A couple I had been asking about directions gave me the coin I needed. Relief. From there, I wended my way to my hotel. That and my impressions of Manchester city center will have to wait for the next post.
How to Travel in Europe
Once again, I have learned how to travel in Europe: ask questions everywhere you go and rely on the generosity of strangers. It will be a long time before I become a seasoned traveler.
Fact: Americans spell traveler (and traveling) with one L, while the British use two Ls
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