Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Germany mini-trip - day 5

It’s been a long long time since I traveled alone in a foreign country, but that’s where the plan took me today. As you recall, this little vacation was triggered by Ally’s business trip to Cologne, which commenced today, Tuesday. She left St. Goar at around 6.30 am, which would allow plenty of time to be at her 9 am meeting (the main foreseeable problem would be to make the mental shift). I went to the station with her, saw her off, then went for an hour-long walk, to Das Boot, which I described before (and which looked even more eccentrically desolate at this time of day), and back. I went to breakfast by myself. “Are you alone?” asked the guy with apparent astonishment, as he lit my lonely candle.

I was scheduled to leave St. Goar at 9.21 – astonishingly, the train was late! As I had only five minutes to make a connection at Oberwesel, I then needed to decide whether to get off there regardless of having presumably missed that connection, or whether to stay on the train I was on and work it out later. I got off, and it turned out the connecting train was late as well – all immaculately coordinated I’m sure. The whole check-in/security process took no more than half an hour. The highlight of that was seeing an Ozu-like dog, apparently about to be placed in a crate to embark on a flight, and looking too happy to be aware of what was coming (I don’t anticipate we’d ever put Ozu on a plane – it would only be out of utterly unavoidable necessity).

Then I had three hours or so to wait around at the airport. I don’t mind such waiting around too much, as long as I can use it to read or do things I would have done anyway at other times (i.e. so that the time needn’t in any sense be considered “wasted”) and I had more than enough of a to-do list to meet that criterion for today’s waiting time, for the flight home, and for a big security margin on top of that. I made pretty good progress on this list, largely because of sleeping only minimally. I had an aisle seat, but when I arrived at it I was asked by a couple who’d been separated whether I’d switch and take her middle seat in another row. She was much larger than I was so I made a snap decision that I would contribute to the common good by agreeing to this (usually of course, my own well-being would have been greater by staying on the aisle, but even that might not have held here, sitting next to a possibly disgruntled husband for eight hours). Anyway, no doubt I did the right thing.

The flight was on time, and Canadian immigration took no time at all, but then the bag took an hour to show up (as they always seem to at Toronto Pearson unfortunately) and of course traffic into the city was slow. But I picked up Ozu exactly at 7 as planned. We ran home, and celebrated in our usual buoyant manner, and for me that’s always the official end of the vacation. Meanwhile, Ally did a full day’s work, and when I called her from the airport, she’d had dinner long ago, and had been in her Cologne hotel room for a couple of hours, just winding down the day. We don’t have too many days when our trajectories deviate so dramatically…

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