Monday, December 14, 2015

How to deal with bad luck while traveling

Ever gotten stuck in a traffic jam before? Or bit your lip while chewing? Spilled hot coffee all over your lap? Slipped on ice? Unless you're not human, you've probably had one of these experiences before. Bad luck. Almost everyone deals with it at least once in his or her life. But for some reason, me and my boyfriend, Mihai, were handed an extra dose of bad luck during my month visit to Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Maybe we walked under too many ladders? Or crossed too many black cats? Or maybe it's because our anniversary is on the 13th? Whatever the reason, I have a lot of funny stories to tell!

Mihai came to visit me in Schwedeneck and we cooked dinner together :)

During my first week, I decided to go visit Mihai in Kiel. It was my first time taking the bus from Schwedeneck to Kiel but Silke had showed me where the bus stop was and gave me the bus schedule booklet so I wasn't worried. However, knowing myself (I kinda suck at public transportation) I got to the bus stop 10 minutes early just to make sure I didn't miss it.

My bus was supposed to leave at 1:13 but even by 1:15, there was no bus in sight. Hmm... maybe it's just a little bit late?, I thought. I waited 5 more minutes then texted Mihai and asked him if he could use the DB Navigator app he had on his phone (I still hadn't downloaded it and had 0 wifi out in the middle of nowhere) to double check what time the bus was supposed to come. He told me that the app said that the bus had already passed my stop, Krusendorf, at 1:13. Uhh... no it didn't?? Crap, maybe I'm at the wrong bus stop... ? But Mihai had come to visit me just the night before and used the same exact bus stop so that wasn't the problem.

"Eh maybe that bus broke down or something, who knows, just wait for the next bus to come, the app says it'll come at 2:13!", Mihai told me. Thinking he was probably right, I just continued sitting on the bench reading for another 45 minutes or so. It was a nice sunny day out, no big deal. I could relax for a while.

At 2:13, once again, no bus showed up. Seriously... Now I was getting upset and worried. I called Silke and explained what had happened. She said that she wasn't sure what was going on because I was at the right bus stop and the bus should've come. She said that she hadn't heard of any bus strikes going on that day but she would double check online for me. I googled "bus streik Krusendorf" as well on my phone and found the same bus schedule Silke had given me but with almost all of the times crossed out. Yup, there definitely must be some type of strike going on. Silke called me back and said there was a strike, but only with my bus, #900. You've got to be kidding me. I was so disappointed because I was really looking forward to seeing Mihai that day.

I called Mihai and was about ready to give up and just go back to the hostel but he found an alternate route I could take instead. I had to take a different bus that would come at 3:53 and take me to another small town called Eckenforde, then from there I could take a train to the Kiel Hauptbahnhof (central station). Ugh. Back to sitting on the bench and reading.

Gelato ice cream with wild berry sauce mmm

3:53 rolled around and no bus in sight. I waited anyway. Any time I heard the faintest sound I looked up in hope of a bus but normally just a car or tractor drove by. A few minutes later, a white van drove by and the driver looked at me quizzically but I just shook my head no and he drove past. I was talking on the phone to Mihai when the same white van came back but this time the driver yelled something to me in German. I walked over to him and sheepishly said, "Ich sprechen kein Deutsch" (I don't speak any German). "Where do you go?", he asked me. Ah, this I knew! "Eckenforde!!", I answered. He signaled for me to get in the van and charged me 3 euros for a ticket. Woah woah, wait a second, this van was the bus?? Yeah, I really am in the middle of nowhere.

I made it to Eckenforde but had to rush to catch the train (or have to wait even longer). I frantically went to buy a ticket from the machine, only to find out that I had no change left and only a 100 euro note, which the machine didn't accept. Okay, I'll just use my credit card! Nope. The machine only accepts credit cards with the new microchip, which of course, I don't have. I ran inside the convenient store and bought a 1 euro donut with a 100 euro note. Using the change, I was finally able to purchase my train ticket from the machine! And you'll never guess how much that ticket cost. 8.70 euros. So much for making my budget today, I thought.

FINALLY, I made it to Kiel by 4:50. I had left the house at 12:50. A trip that only takes 30 minutes by car or 1 hour by bus #900 took me 4 hours. Not to mention, the normal bus only costs 4 euros as opposed to 11.70. Yeah. Mihai better not ever complain that I don't love him.

So happy to finally have made it to Kiel!

Mihai and I ate dinner with his host family that night in Flintbek (where Mihai lives; a small town about 10 minutes away from Kiel). It was my first time meeting them and they were super nice but I'm not going to talk much about them yet, saving it for my next post! After dinner Silke was kind enough to let me sleep at her other hostel in Kiel so I didn't have to worry about trying to figure out how the heck to get back to Schwedeneck again late at night.

The next afternoon, Mihai and I were sitting outside a restaurant eating lunch, him a currywurst (literally a sausage dipped in spicy curry sauce), me a smoked salmon fischbroetchen (fish sandwich). Suddenly Mihai looked up and all around him in confusion. "What's wrong??", I asked. "Did someone spray me with water or something?!", he exclaimed.  Uh, nope. No surprise attack water-gunners. He was touching the back of his head and neck in puzzlement. There was a white liquid on him. "It's bird poop!!", I shrieked as I looked up and saw a black crow perched on the tree branch right above us. Hahahaha I couldn't stop laughing. It was as if the bird aimed for him! I could almost recognize a smug look on that crow's face.

The next morning I went to catch the bus and surprise, surprise, it didn't show up again. There was another strike that day. But at least this time I knew the correct alternative route I had to take to get home!

German breakfast <3

Only an hour south of Kiel lies the 2nd most populous city in Germany: Hamburg, an important port city connected to the north sea by the Elbe river. Mihai and I decided to take a day-cation to Hamburg one Saturday. We wandered all around the city, drank some beer, strolled beside the port, ate fischbroetchen and lastly hung out in the notorious St. Pauli's district. The Reeperbahn in St. Pauli's is easily one of the most infamous streets in Germany, known for it's crazy nightlife, countless bars, clubs, liquor stores and the city's red light district.

Am I dating a 10 or 18 year old?

The Hamburg Rathaus (the city hall)

Rainbow over the Alster river

The calm waters of the Alster river

Some type of street performance with bottle caps, I didn't really understand it much though

Beautiful day at the Hamburg port!

Idk why he wanted me to take a picture of him with these random metal sticks but he was so happy about it

After a long night on the Reeperbahn, complete with Doner (huge Turkish kebab wraps, the ultimate late night food), we decided it was about time to head home at 2 am. We made our way back to the train station only to find that the train we needed to take wouldn't run for a few more hours. Great. We should really start double checking these types of things... So instead we decided to take a bus to Neumünster, where we could catch a train back to Mihai's house. There were 2 buses, both going to Neumünster. One left in 5 minutes and the other in 20. We, of course, took the first option. However, what we didn't know is that the bus we took stopped at every single station along the way. I kept falling in and out of sleep, asking Mihai if we were there yet. We'd be the type of people to miss our stop because we were passed out. As more people got off we kept switching seats to stretch out and get more comfortable until we were the only ones on the bus. Finally we made it to Neumünster, nearly two hours later (it should'v only taken 45 minutes). Next, we had to wait 20 minutes for our train. Then there was an announcement that the train would be delayed 20 more minutes. Just our luck.

Matching hats!!

Took us three tries to finally get a picture without Mihai blinking...

By this time it was 4:30 in the morning and we were both exhausted, cold and thirsty. We bought two hot teas from the convenient store in the train station. As we walked down the stairs back to the platform, I tripped, fell down and completely spilled my tea everywhere. Mihai couldn't stop laughing but I was so mad I just kept picking up the empty paper cup and throwing it back on the floor again to try and let my anger out. To make me feel better we went back to the store to buy another drink.

"1 euro and 30 cents", the cashier said as she scanned the bottle of flavored water. We fumbled with our wallets to collect up enough change to pay because, of course, we had both spent all of our euro notes at St. Pauli's. We realized that we were 15 cents short and awkwardly looked at the woman, expressing to her that this was the only money we had left. She waved her hand, clearly irritated, and just snatched up our measly coins and handed us the water bottle. Pretty sure she just wanted our grimy butts to leave her the heck alone. Oops.

We eventually made it home by 6 am. The sun was coming up as we walked back to Mihai's host family's house.

Neumünster train station after I spilled my tea

Ever since I mentioned to Mihai's host family that I'm good at making apple pies, they begged me to make one for them. So one evening, Mihai and I were in his family's kitchen working on an apple pie together. I poured the sugar on the cut up apples and tasted one to see if it was sweet enough. After taking a bite of the apple, I recoiled back in disgust. It wasn't sweet at all but extremely salty. What the heck?? "This is sugar right??", I asked Mihai and pointed to a jar full of white granules that I had just smothered the apples in. "Uh no.. that's salt", Mihai said. Nooooooo. We explained what I had done to Mihai's host family and everyone just started laughing. Oops. Thankfully, Mihai's family had more apples so we threw all of the salty slices away and began again. 

Our 1 year anniversary; October 13th (is that unlucky??)

Mmm delicious authentic German meal

The love lock Mihai got me <3

Last but not least, comes the unluckiest day yet in Germany. It was my last day before leaving for Japan. Mihai and I woke up at his home in Flintbek and ate breakfast before setting off to Schwedeneck because Silke needed me to be at the hostel to clean up and let some guests in. Except there was a train strike so we had to take a much slower bus. We thought we'd be clever and save some money on the bus by sneaking on using a cheaper ticket than required. Except, we got caught. The driver announced something in German and then when we arrived at our stop she asked to see our ticket and angrily told us that we were 'black riders' (meaning we hadn't paid the correct fare) and now we had to pay a 60 euro fine. "What?! We thought this was the right ticket? Sorry, we're (stupid) Americans", we replied. Thankfully the bus driver showed some sympathy and only made us pay the original, normal fare instead of 60 euros. Phew. Never going to try that again.

Next, on the bus, I realized that I had accidentally forgotten my suitcase at the other hostel in Kiel and had no key to go get it. I called the hostel in panic; I needed my suitcase, I was leaving tomorrow!! She said that there should be a guest there later that night to let me in so I could grab my suitcase. Thank goodness. I couldn't go to Ghana without my malaria pills later this year. 

Like usual, Mihai had also forgotten his wallet at home that day. We had spent my last cash on paying for the bus tickets and had no clue how we would pay for the bus ride back to Kiel because there were no ATMS in Schwedeneck at all (remember, in the middle of nowhere) and we definitely didn't want to get caught as 'black riders' again. We took a bike ride to the local grocery store to see if they'd give us cash back but they said we had to spend at least 20 euros in order to get cash back. Great. Short on time, Mihai and I frantically ran around that grocery store searching for stuff to buy. I picked out the most expensive chocolates I could find to bring to my family in Japan and bought expensive salmon and shrimp to make for dinner for me and Mihai. We went outside to unlock our bikes and head to the beach but, of course, the bike lock was stuck. I started freaking out. "What are we going to do!? Just leave the bikes here?!". Finally after a good 15 minutes, Mihai got the bikes unlocked and we pedaled to the beach. 

After all that stress, we eventually relaxed a bit and swam in the Baltic sea on the Surendorf beach. Okay, not really swam, more like quickly dipped our bodies in and ran back out, me screaming from the extreme cold. The water was also very shallow and there were sharp rocks, not sand, on the bottom making it not too enjoyable. We vowed that we'd return in the spring and take a real swim with flip flops so our feet wouldn't get cut up this time! After that we rode our bikes home in the darkness and made a yummy homemade dinner with our fancy seafood purchases. Although it wasn't the last day in Germany that I had imagined, it turned out being perfect, simply because I was with Mihai. Bad luck won't get us down ;) Being with someone you love is definitely the best way to deal with bad luck while traveling. But even if you're alone, whenever something bad happens, just remember that although at the moment it may not be funny, it'll make a great funny story or blog post one day!

Just like an old married couple, looking at our scrapbook together and eating our last breakfast of leftover apple pie (not salty) & cappuccinos

Before boarding my flight to Tokyo

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