24.04.2010 - 25.04.2010
I was going to go to Stuttgart for the Spring Festival, alone. Switzer had a change in plans as her sister was unable to fly out due to the havoc that the Volcano in Iceland spilled out over all of Europe.
When I learned that Switzer was going to be around for the weekend, I asked her if she wanted to join me in Stuttgart....she wanted to get away for the weekend but wasn't super excited about going to Stuttgart so began the next three days of 'piss poor planning'.
We thought about going several places. Among them were Luxembourg (decided that we could do this on a day trip), Berlin (train was too long...12 hours), and multiple other places. Neither of us was real excited about staying in Germany but with a short weekend, it was really our only option.
It was decided on Friday night that we would go to Cologne for the weekend, leaving on Saturday morning and returning on Sunday evening...
What should have been a 2.5 hr drive, ended up taking (me) nearly 6 hours!! I started out headed for Switzers place around 0900. We decided that she would drive since her car is much more reliable than mine...we would regret this later. My crazy-ass GPS took me the longest and slowest way that it could to get to Switzer's. It took me nearly an hour to get to her house when it should have taken about 20 minutes!
After a quick bathroom stop, we hit the road. Switzer realized that she needed to load her gas card so that we could fuel up on the way....so.....we headed straight back toward my place!! I live right next to one of the bases and this is where we headed to charge up the gas card and stock up on snacks/drinks for the road. I forget that I (as a passenger) can drink on the road here...believe me, if I ever take another road trip, this tid-bit will NOT be forgotten! About three hours into the trip I certainly could have used a good drink or two....
Car filled up and gas card loaded, snacks and drinks in hand....off we went!
We ended up hitting 3 different traffic jam's all together lasting probably less than an hour...then....the big one! At first it wasn't any different than the rest of the jams that we encountered, but it just wouldn't end! Then come's the fun...Switzer's car begins to overheat!!! We are both urging the traffic in front of us to get moving and silently hoping that this jam will be over soon....it wasn't!
The car just kept getting hotter and hotter....we were in the 'red' now and both a nervous wreck! We had been trying for the past 1/2 hour to find a place to pull off and not block the traffic and still hadn't found one. Finally, we spotted a place just under an over-pass only a short 3 car-lengths in front of us....safety at last! We would just pull off and let the car cool down and everything would be fine....
But...the cars in front of us simply would not allow this, NO. They stopped. Dead stop. Not even inching at all. After little deliberation I decided to speak to the car in front of us and see if they would move forward just a bit so that we could pull off. Of course, they spoke no English...so with my wildly crazy game of charades, I finally got them to understand that I needed them to pull forward so that we could pull off the road.
We had avoided a total breakdown and were happy about this. There was a motorcycle also pulled over in our spot and he told us that he was waiting for a friend and that they were going to take an alternate route through the field that was just down the ditch from the over-pass where we were parked. It was a bit of a decent but we thought we might be able to make it. Before long, the police walked past and again with wild charades, we explained that the car over-heated and we would be going as soon as it cooled down.
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I found my way to the bushes and took a toilet break! How many women do you know that can say they squatted alongside the Autobahn to pee?!? I couldn't help it...I
HAD to go.
The motorcyclist's friend arrived and after a few more charades, explaining our situation and ensuring him that we were really ok, off they went down the ditch and around the field...it looked so easy for them but they were on bikes and we were in a car. With the traffic around us still inching forward, we continued to contemplate our options and try to decide if we could make it down the embankment without any damage to the car's undercarriage.
Suddenly, a delivery van appeared and swerved around us and down the ditch and made it seamlessly through the field to the other side!! Success!! It was our turn.....
We made it down the ditch without any problems and soon were on our way. The rest of the trip was smooth sailing.
When we arrived in Cologne, we found ourselves in some sort of special 'Midnight Shopping' day....the central shopping area at Neumarket was teaming with people, music, and beer and food stands. We wandered around and shopped a little. I promise that I didn't spend too much money.
We got free Coke, ate at the street stalls and sampled a beer or two. Then we decided that we really needed to get a place to stay for the night. Off we went in search of a hostel to stay at. We made a quick stop at the bookstore for a quick peek at the travel guide and got a couple of addresses and phone numbers! Why pay for a guide-book when you can just browse one? hahaha
The phone numbers were a dead end so off we drove to the first one. It was a bust, no room at the inn. They did give us the addresses and numbers for several other places. As Switzer drove, I was making phone calls. The first two that I called were full and I was losing hope quickly. The third one, which we were driving too, had one 2-twin room available! SCORE! By the time we got there, we were both exhausted and ready to call it a night....but we didn't.
We freshened up and headed out. We headed back down where we had been shopping earlier (which was a short 10 min walk from our hostel). I looked for a spring jacket and was unable to find one that I liked (and could afford). From here, we grabbed some food and did a little bar-hopping taking the long way back to the hostel.
Sunday was a fresh new day. We checked out of the hotel and stored our bags in the car. With no real plans, we went exploring. It was a great day, full of sunshine and although I'm sure that we didn't see all of the 'tourist' sites, we were happy with what we saw.
I got to spend a little time along the Rhine River sipping on a coffee and filling out my post-cards. It was very relaxing. On the way to the river, we passed (or rather they passed us) some sort of marathon...with a band and people cheering them along the way.
The ride home was uneventful....thankfully ;o)