Thursday, April 13, 2006

Re-Post: The friends begin to assemble (or Weil am Rhine Part II)

Original posted on: June 23rd, 2004

After Ulm, Karl and I returned to the Maurer's in the Weil am Rhein region. It was not to be a good day for train travel.

Our train from Ulm to Friedrichshaven Stadt was delayed half an hour in the station due to a derailment further down the track. When we arrived in Friedrichshaven our next connecting train didn't arrive for an hour and half. Luckily Friedrichshaven is probably the most beautiful place ever to have a stop over. We spent the hour and half sitting along the pier which is just outside the train station. It was very beautiful with Switzerland and the Alps filling in the background behind the lake. On the lake little white sailboats floated, enjoying the beauty of the day as well.

The beautiful harbour

In case the beauty proved too monotonous, an irate white swan and a group of unwary school children provided entertainment.

Karl confronts the swan after it has attacked his backpack

After arriving successfully in Haltingen we waited to pick up Kyla from the train station. She was supposed to arrive at 8 o'clock, but numerous checks at the train station and two trips to Basel later she still hadn't arrived. At midnight we had run out of ideas for what to do, four hours had passed and six trains from Frankfurt (her last connection) had come and gone, so we returned home. Just as we entered the door, the phone rang and to our immense relief Kyla's voice greeted us from the other end. She was in Haltingen (the same village as us) and with a guy she had met by the train station named Raphael. We found out later that she had power problems on her train from the Netherlands into Germany. Two hours later in Frankfurt and not knowing German, she got some extremely inefficient advice and added a few more stops to her journey. Needless to say, we are quite thankful Kyla is with us.

Tuesday we headed to the alps. The day started off cloudy and you couldn't see a thing from the top of the mountain we had decided to ascend by tram. We waited it out over lunch though, and by the time we had finished eating the surrounding mountains started appearing one by one. It was an absolutely amazing effect to look down at once was complete white and now was an extremely long and straight drop to the lakes and villages below. As we walked down the mountain the weather becoming increasingly more beautiful until it was a full out gorgeous day. It was one of the most beautiful walks I've ever been on. The trail weaved it's way down the mountain over hills dotted with flowers, through small villages, past farm yards and through pastures where classic swiss cows grazed. The sound of the cow bells carries for miles and creates a soothing yet surreal effect I wont soon forget.

A view from the top


A small chapel set against the hill

What was previously a wall of white

Our "Sound of Music"esque shot

A random encounter

The cow that fell in love

The valley

Wednesday is today, and I've stayed back to get some rest while Karl and Kyla have gone out with Richard to see more of the Black Forest. Tonight we'll watch the Germany Czech soccer match. Then tomorrow we'll take off for Paris, our meeting point with Sherri (the final member of our travelling group). Then the travels will truly begin. We've been completely spoiled up to now (and we've loved every minute of it) staying with relatives and connections, but tomorrow it's time to actually set off on our own and travel. I'll try my best to keep you all posted.

Ed: As mentioned the trail we took wound its way through farmer's fields. In one of these fields (see shot labeled "The cow that fell in love") I met with a large cow. Since we wanted to walk right in its path, I decided to try and be friendly and pet him. If you click on the picture for the close up you will see the result, the cow giving me a big sloppy lick (I'm not pulling out the cow's tongue, as it appears). Anyways, the cow became my instant best friend and decided to follow me. What made this all the more disconcerting was the fact that we were travelling downhill and here was a gigantic beast following me with a loud clanking sound and its head literally within a foot of my back. I wasn't concerned that the cow meant me harm (it clearly adored me), but the fact is that a cow travelling downhill isn't the most graceful creature. I would describe the motion as periodically checked descent and this, as mentioned, just a foot from my rear. I was quite relieved when we finally entered the next field.

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