On a mail trolley in Freiburg railway station, Germany
My year studying in Germany (94-95) was one of the best times of my life. Not only did we have to do minimal actual studying (improving our language skills was the main aim), leaving plenty of time for socialising, but we also got to see lots of the country. Mainly due to the fantastic “weekend ticket”, which was a rail pass costing just £10, valid from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday throughout the whole of Germany for up to 5 people, the catch being that you could only get local and regional trains. But with their fantastic travel info offices at stations, and our trusty copy of the German Railways Timetable (a weighty tome indeed), you could always plan a route that got you even a long distance to somewhere interesting.
In the summer semester, we (by the way “we” is the four of us English lads from my course who were there) went away for a week, travelling down to Munich one weekend on the cheap ticket, camping in Southern Germany on Lake Constance for the week, then aiming to travel back the following weekend. We decided to leave a day early and hitch hike to the city of Freiburg in the Black Forest, which we duly managed.
Spending the afternoon and evening exploring the city, we then had to kill time until 5am on the Saturday to get the first train to our next destination. A late night showing of Die Hard 3 passed some of the night, but for the rest we made our way to the station. Finding the waiting room and public areas closed, we were fortunate to find a gate open, where we slipped through onto a platform and got our heads down for a sleep. Some on a bench, me on a mail trolley. I was only awoken when it started moving – a member of staff had hitched up the string of these trolleys and was towing them away.
Not the most restful sleep I have ever enjoyed, but certainly one of the most memorable.