Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fourth stop: Dortmund

You know how it feels when you've had way too much chocolate, etc etc ...? Forget it; there's no chocolate in this story. Or any kind of food, for that matter. Or toilets.

It started on a beautiful spring morning. It was 5am. The respectable citizens of Maastricht were still sleeping, safe in their picture-perfect houses, while I and the 15kgs on my back (now enriched by items as diverse as books, marinated fish or wooden clogs) were walking cheerfully towards the train station. A succession of 4 trains was meant to take me to Dortmund, where I would catch my flight home. I had planned it so that I would have some sightseeing time before catching the 12:45 flight.

The time for getting off one train and finding your way to the next was no longer than 4 minutes at any given station. All went well for the first two changes, and I defied nature by breaking the speed record of any Transilvanian who ever had to find his/her way in a train station. Third time unlucky, though. Despite the help of a gentleman who almost missed his own train in order to show me around (random act of kindness no. 2), it took me perhaps 4 minutes and 3 seconds to get to the right platform; just enough to see the doors close and the train leave right under my nose. Bugger! I was stranded in the beautiful town of Viersen, located precisely in the middle of nowhere.

After a long row of multilingual curses directed at Germanic precision, I decided to proceed in an orderly fashion and take it one need at a time. The first and most pressing need was that of finding a toilet, closely followed by the need to find a tourist information desk where I could find out what to do next. Surprise! the train station was composed of nothing but a (very expensive!) bakery and a newspaper shop. No info, no ticket desk, no toilet! Projecting the image of a nice toilet as a future reward at the next stop, I proceeded to struggle with the ticket machine, and obtained a new ticket on the next train to Dortmund. By now I was already an hour behind schedule.

I still had one more change, and I managed that admirably, though without the time to use a toilet. It was now getting quite late, definitely no time left for sightseeing, it would have to be straight to the airport. But phew, I was finally on the last train, I would be in Dortmund soon, everything was going to be fine now... Or not. 16 km before reaching Dortmund, the train breaks down! 40 minutes delay! Not good at all. I got lucky again, when an old lady who spoke English offered to take me to another train that was going to Dortmund (random act of kindness no.3). There we were, old lady running through the station, looking over her shoulder from time to time to check if the young fraulein with the big backpack was following. Up stairs we go, and down some stairs, and through underground passages we go, until she puts me onto the correct train in the nick of time. I give thanks to all the big-nippled Jesuses out there, as my only concern now (apart from trying not to wet my pants) was making it to the airport in time.

Finally, Dortmund! No pilgrim was ever happier to see Mecca than I to have finally seen myself off the last train. In the excitement of the moment, I forget to go toilet and go straight towards the airport shuttle. Shock and horror! I was 10 minutes late and the next one was leaving in an hour and a half's time! Sure as pee was pee, I was going to miss my flight! But I must have had a little lucky sprite or two left on my shoulder, as the nice girl at the tourist info desk tells me I might just make it if I take this subway followed by this bus to the airport. I rush to buy the tickets (lots of hand gesturing, giggles, and misunderstood words) with, of course, only a few minutes left to get to the subway. Get onto the subway, get off the subway, run to the bus, get off the wrong bus, cross the road, get onto the right bus... phew, almost there! The need to pee returns stronger than ever. My dad rings. I assure him I'm fine, just peachy, never been better.

Finally-finally, the airport! The check-in being still open, I get rid of my backpack and rush to the toilets. But why would they make it easy! There's a door for men and a door for disabled, no ladies'! I decide that my current circumstances excuse my being rude, and I go into the disabled, but it was dark. Groping around on the wall for a light switch, I press something. The light doesn't come on, but instead a voice talks to me in German. I choose to ignore it, but it insists. In the meantime I manage to turn the light on and realise I had actually pressed the alarm button. Omg, they were sending an intervention team, an ambulance, who knows what, my way, to find that the only thing disabling me is a full bladder! I apologise nicely to the speaker in the wall, he excuses me, and I finally get to enjoy the happiest 3 minutes of my entire trip.

After which I board the plane, fall asleep instantly and wake up above Timisoara. Ahh, dust, rudeness and colourful gypsies... home at last! I hadn't eaten in 25 hours, and after completing that task most successfully (3 servings of pasta, thanks Mørti!) I was able to see the comical side of the day of March 3, when a silly Transilvanian girl crossed 3 countries without peeing.

And thus ended the adventures of said silly Transilvanian girl. Thanks for joining me, I hope you enjoyed them too. I might put more pretty pics in future posts, if I decide you haven't seen enough.


Anonymous said...

If I were you I would write to a film studio in the USA im sure they would pay big money for the movie rights to an adventure story like that "THE TORTURE OF A ROMANIAN TOURIST." with the by line "3 COUNTRIES , NO FOOD , NO PEEPEE!!"

It would be a mega hit!:-)

NeMe said...

Hahaha, great idea! Or maybe a European film studio that would turn it into a psychological drama, sprinkled with surreal images and an ear-grating soundtrack!

Sanda said...

Don't they have toilets in the trains in Germany? (just asking :-) However, you've been brave and resistant, I would have been wet before half of this journey.:-)

A said...

They do, but they were all so crowded it was a journey in itself to get to the toilet. Besides, I wasn't going to leave my backpack in the crowd by itself (Romanian instincts, eh) :)