Tuesday 25. September 2018, 5:00 am in the middle of the night. The alarm clock snatches me far too early from a dream I didn't want to dream anyway. Today is travel day. At 6:15 I go by subway to the central station at 7 o'clock to our meeting point by the breakfast snack-bar on platform 12/13. We are 7 people, all car drivers, and we are travelling with a 2nd class group ticket on an EuroCity train, which will take us to Augsburg for a start.
The president's wife, Heike, has disguised herself to match her suitcase. She says that the case is easy to find in bright pink. Is she afraid of getting lost herself? All suitcases are equipped with carrying wheels, just EAK-compliant.
Of course, the carriage status indicator on the platform tells us that our coach, number 8, will stop at the other end of the platform. The platform is narrow and an unbelievable number of passengers is waiting for the InterCityExpress to Stuttgart. Just at the edge of the platform comes the fear of not noticing the train coming up behind us. It's always like this: we choose the coach door furthest from our reserved seats.
It is normal to block the narrow aisle with oncoming passengers who have the same problem. It takes quite a while until the heavy and unwieldy bags and trolleys have landed in the racks above the seats. But then relaxation is the order of the day. Only the loudspeaker announcements by the driver are frightening from time to time: too loud, repetitive phrases, sometimes distorted, sometimes with a loud background or sometimes too quiet. Like the normal life of an amateur film maker.
The train rolls pleasantly quietly over the tracks with many stops even in smaller cities. Georg Brand says it stops at every milk can. He doesn't anticipate getting to meet any other trains. For 3,50 Euro I get a cup of coffee, it is pleasantly hot, but nothing more. After 6 hours we reach our first transfer station in Augsburg almost on time. In a one hour break we refresh ourselves with a stay in a cardboard factory: McDonald, a lounge for third-class travellers, but without a toilet (see photo). Order time 20 minutes, meal time 10 minutes, then march off downstairs and upstairs to track 6.
The diesel railcar train to Lindau on Lake Constance as a regional express is already ready. I take over a compartment for children with eight normal seats at two tables. The train attendant brings us crayons to pass the time, paper follows later. At high speed the partition wall clatters and rattles. The winding route appears to us almost like a roller coaster ride through a beautiful landscape. Gentle hills, forests and green fields alternate with lake scenery. Half way we have the feared forced stop because of a signal failure. Is our connection to a train in Lindau in danger now? For the 45 km from Lindau to Bludenz this train takes 1h and 20min! After a total journey time of 12 hours Gaby welcomes us in Bludenz, her cordiality quickly cheers us up again, thank you very much!
The following day we meet for a city tour and come upon the following scene: at the city fountain there is a professional video team, which is shooting a scene with sound. Uwe stands next to us and tells us loudly that we, the Eurofilmers, are here in Bludenz to visit a big international festival. He pulls his mobile phone out of his pocket to take a picture as well. What did the camera team think? Is this how we make our films?
Other writers will write here about the fine organisation of the festival, the smooth running and the warm gatherings of friends.
On Sunday we go on the return journey. The night ends at 6:00 a.m. because part of the group meets at the station shortly after 7:00 a.m. Uwe and Heike stay in another hotel and join us later. Very tired, but without further incidents we arrive in very full trains at Lindau and also Augsburg. It is surprising for us that so many travellers are on the move on a Sunday morning.
In Augsburg Heino Schenck finds the toilet far, far away. I'm worried that I might miss the train to Hamburg and put my faith in the train facilities. As soon as I board our coach, I recognise my coming emergency situation: WC closed due to a fault, the red lamp also burns one coach further. Well, please see the procedure at the beginning of my report. On the way to the bistro car, 5 coaches further on, I found a door without red light to my relief. In spite of great shaking of the train I did not miss the seat bowl due to the restricted space. Later I was frightened, however, by the suction device. In the future, I will vacate the seat before I flush.
Just in time to the minute we arrived at Göttingen station. But not out of there. A friendly train attendant with a good sense of humour explained via loudspeaker: "The train driver has now started his evening job. But the new driver hasn't finished his evening yet and arrives in about 20 minutes, so we'll have to wait that long." That became 35 minutes. An expected breakdown was not apparent for our train. A 12-hour train journey to Hamburg is a new experience for a car driver. Only we don't know yet how to deal with it.