Day 0, Tuesday 4 October: Cowplain to Regensburg via Gatwick & Munich
Got up at about 5 o'clock. Got to the station in Petersfield with about 15 mins to spare. Uneventful journey to Gatwick (1 change at Guildford) except that there wasn't really anywhere on the train to put a big piece of luggage like my suitcase, so I had to leave it in the corridor by the bike rack where it narrowed the gangway somewhat, but not as much as it would have done in the middle of the passenger coach. (Too big and heavy to put overhead.)
Got to Gatwick on time (~7:55) so in theory I had half an hour to check in and another 5-10 mins to board the plane, but due to slightly awkward signage I managed to get to a self service check-in kiosk in the north terminal with only 5 minutes to spare.
The plane turned out to be a 737 - two columns of 3 seats, and rather excellently I got a window seat. Was fascinating seeing the tops of the clouds for a change - some are like puffs of smoke, some are like thick patchy fog (which in a sense they are), and most intriguingly of all, stratus clouds (the ones that fill the entire sky) look like an Antarctic snowfield. Complementary food was a ham and Leicester cheese roll and a little pot of fruit salad, plus some orange juice and a cup of tea.
Arrived at Munich airport a bit early, at almost exactly 12:00. Once there I phoned home, then cast about a bit for a way to get to Regensburg, eventually finding a travel desk where I bought a bus ticket to Freising, where the S-Bahn from the airport meets the Munich-Regensburg railway line, and a train ticket from there to Regensburg. Arrived in Regensburg about 3pm, wandered around the bus stop for a while trying to figure out which bus to take (by now getting rather tired of lugging the suitcase around even on wheels), gave up and got a taxi to the University. There I got totally confused and failed to find the Akademisches Auslandsamt (AAA), the department where I was supposed to pick up the key to my room in halls.
4pm (or as all of Europe except the UK calls it, 16:00) came and went, the time at which the AAA closed during the first week, so I gave up and took the bus to the bridge over the Danube on the east side of the city centre (Eisenbrücke), walking the bridge the rest of the way. (The buses are totally bizarre to someone used to the British system - you can get on as well as off at the side doors, and noone seemed to pay. I just got on and off and hoped noone apprehended me for not having a ticket.) On the way to the youth hostel, on the north side of the bridge, a local stopped and told me I was a bit off course for the youth hostel and gave me directions. Being totally exhausted at this stage I didn't go immediately but stopped for a rest and a bit of a chat. The woman asked me if I was Swedish. Weird.
I tired myself out yet more lugging the suitcase up the stairs (there being no lift in the youth hostel - where do the disabled people sleep?!) and washed my face and feet before getting into one of the bunks. It was about 5:30-6pm by now and I just read for the rest of the evening, until I finished my book, then I chatted for a while with the other occupants of the room - a couple of cheap Aussies on business, and a German with a new job trying to find a flat - before drifting off to sleep.
Posted retrospectively on Monday 10 Oct 2005
[ Entry posted at: Tue 04 Oct 2005 22:00:00 BST | 0 comment(s)... | Cat: University ]