So.... the "journey started out with good intentions," but Oh, My, did it go terribly wrong.
I took a trip, on a train. (in my mind I'm hearing Shirley Horn Live at Vine Street, singing "I thought about you." but oh, no.)
What was supposed to be a direct fancy pants train from Copenhagen to Hamburg deteriorated quickly into what today is a little comical, but yesterday had me practically in tears. Ok, by the end, I WAS in tears.
Trains are usually punctual, clean, perfect over here. Yesterday, there I was on platform 6 at the Copenhagen central station. 11:45. Now, I am just not able to travel light... I've been on the road for more than a month now. So I have a big suitcase, a computer bag, a gear bag and a guitar. (who would have thought I'd be grateful now that my other guitar completely cracked open in Manchester UK and had to be sent home.) It is only by extreme will and adrenaline that I am able to carry all this at once, by myself. But I can do it.
There are no porters here. There are no baggage carts, and I have this feeling that people are looking at me thinking, what an idiot to bring so much stuff. Well, I have microphones, a pre-amp, a power transformer, a computer, two cameras, three cell phones and all their various chargers.... and that's just my carry-on bags.
So far so good? First glitch. Five minutes before the train is due to leave, they switch platforms. Great if you have a knapsack and a little bag lunch. For me? A backbreaking charge down the platform, up the escalator, over four entries, down another escalator, (remember my stuff all together weighs more than I do, so one false step and I am flying down a metal death trap.)
I make it to my appointed spot. I am relieved, now I will have four hours to recover. But, what's this? The train isn't moving. 20 minutes, 25 minutes. This train is not bound for glory. We are told to get off, it's broken and a new one will be delivered in half an hour. We are to wait on the cold platform.
An hour and a half later, we are all disheartened and chilled to the bone. Thank goodness I have Torben's hat. (god forbid your throat is already sore) We board our new train. We make it the first half of the journey. We make it on to the ferry. the lovely conductor regularly tallies how late we will be, it's now 2 and one half hours late....no apologies.
Suddenly at the stop after the ferry, (we are at the northern tip of Germany now) we sit for 15 minutes. An announcement in German only. Everyone is quickly gathering their things. What's this? We are to get off immediately. There will be another train to take us to Lubbeck. Where the hell is Lubbeck? Is it near Hamburg? Is there a hotel, just in case? It's getting dark.
Across the platform is a tiny one car local train. We are to get on this one. The conductor speaks no English. I somehow get all my stuff together, and off the old train, and follow some spanish trekkers who are as confused and frustrated as I. They are trying to get to Berlin. We get on the putt putt train.
guitar, hat, computer bag, gear bag, knitting....
At this point (thank god I have so much chocolate that people have given me at gigs) we are in survival mode. The spanish trekkers have apple juice.
I share my "green & blacks" two danish guys are playing chess. We stop at EVERY SINGLE STOP ALONG THE WAY FROM THE FERRY TO LUBBECK!!!
I'll Sierksdorf YOU!!!
At one point the train grinds to a halt in the middle of NOWHERE. there's a funny smell. smoke is rising from the middle of our cars undercarriage. No announcement. I am taking pictures, thinking, ok, at least there will be a trail.....
After half an hour, a train whizzes by in the other direction. We are starting to think we'll have to walk along the tracks from here.....but no. It seems we have simply been waiting for this train, and now we can continue. It's now past 7pm. Still no announcements, no explanations.
that light? a friggin' McDonalds!!
There are two German guys in our car. They have already drunk a case of beer that they bought on the ferry. They are our only translators. There's a Canadian guy from Calgary on his way to see a Scottish band in Lubbeck! The drunk German guys think that from Lubbeck there will be another train to Hamburg.
We finally pull into Lubbeck. No announcements. I hear through our bedraggled grape vine (god bless my spanish trekkers) that we must find track 7. How did you know? It's the absolute farthest track, and the train leaves in 5. More adrenaline, extra will, more chocolate. I make it to the train. By now, I'm just pissed. I somehow get my stuff on the train. it's almost empty but of course a couple and their really obnoxious little girl sit right across from me. 100 other seats to choose from, but they plop down in those seats that are facing, where your feet are uncomfortably too close. The little girl starts kicking me with her stupid boots, she's whiny and shrill, and she's poking at my knitting. NOT TODAY SWEETHEART!!
By 9pm I am finally in Hamburg. Of course the taxi stand is a half mile from the track. I can't feel my fingers, my forearms are completely in spasm, and, yes, the tears. I am clearly first in line for the next taxi, but a really pushy broad just whisks past me and gives me a scathing glance when I protest. What is it here? No manners!! I have to fight off three burly guys who try to take the next taxi. For chrissakes. Give a girl a break. This is one thing I don't like about Germany.
I survived. Found my hotel, washed my hands, came down to the lobby. The joint was jumping. There was a crazy guy at the piano in the bar, with a complete synth/loop over the top pop trash rig... crooning, "I don't know why, I, keep coming back to you girl" Kind of like a 70 year old Fabio. Perfect! Beyond surreal. I ordered a bad glass of wine. When he went into the best, cheesiest, butchered version of "Hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over," I finally laughed.