Tuesday Sept 11, 2018 – Frankfurt to Seeheim
We packed our bags in such a way that we could leave behind two suitcases at the Frankfurt luggage locker. We were meeting Sachin and Mini at Darmstadt and staying over at their house for the night, so didn’t need all our bags.
We took the U-bahn to the Hauptbahnhof changing trains once. We had scoped out the luggage lockers the previous day and knew that there were empty ones near platforms 23-24. We headed over there and found a few empty lockers and put our luggage in one. We came back to the ticket machines and bought a ticket to Darmstadt. We hoped to take the 11.30 train but it was canceled. So we took the 12.06 train. We comfortably got seats and enjoyed the trip looking out of the windows.
The train ride was just 25 minutes and we got off at the Darmstadt station. Sachin had given us precise directions on which side we needed to exit the station and the tram that we needed to take to reach Luisenplatz where Mini and he were to meet us. We found the tram station and got into the tram going towards Luisenplatz. The tram was crowded and we had to get off in a couple of stops so we just stood. We saw the first ticket checker on a tram in Germany …. and when he saw our tickets he said we had the wrong tickets and we had to pay a fine of 60 Euros per person!! Krishnan and I tried telling him that our friend had told us to use the same ticket for the tram as the train ticket covered the bus and tram fares. We then got Sachin to speak to him but he refused. Another co-passenger who could speak well in English helped us in translating whatever the ticket checker was saying. Sachin told us to pay him and that he would get it refunded later. We had only 60 Euros with us so we asked the ticket checker if he would take a credit card. He said he would come with us to an ATM and we could draw cash and pay him. As we got off at Luisenplatz and walked towards the ATM, the co-passenger who could speak English well told us that the ticket checker had reduced the fine to just one person. So we needed to pay only 60 Euros. We had exactly 60 Euros with us and gave him the money. He instantly gave us a receipt and the co-passenger told us that Germans are also humans even though they follow rules strictly. We assured them that we had no ill-feelings towards Germans or Germany because we enjoy following rules and we didn’t get a ticket because our friend had told us that the train ticket will cover the tram ticket.
We all laughed and went our separate ways. Mini found us 5 minutes later and we all went to a nearby restaurant to wait for Sachin, who came within 10 minutes. I was meeting Sachin after nearly 8 years since he had moved to Germany in 2010 and then he met Krishnan once when we helped us setup the Facebook page for ShikshaDaan. Both Krishnan and I were meeting Mini for the first time but like Mini said, it felt like we had known her as well as we knew Sachin. Thank God for Facebook as we knew exactly what was happening with each other :).
The restaurant that we were at was Mini and Sachin’s favourite Italian restaurant called “Vapiano”. We caught up over amazing Pizza and pasta.
After lunch Mini and I walked across to a market place and Sachin and Krishnan went to get the car from the parking lot. We all met near the university area and saw the auditorium etc. The good thing in Germany is that the educational institutions share their infrastructure with the public.
From Luisenplatz we drove towards a forest area called Odenwald.
Sachin, Mini, Krishnan and I sat at this place for almost an hour and chatted away. It was such a nice location that we will remember the conversation forever. From here we reached Sachin’s home in a village called Seeheim and met his son, daughter and mother. We decided to have the pumpkin soup that Sachin had made and join Sachin’s mom on her daily walk.
We got back home after a nice long 4.5 km walk and had dinner before nodding off. Mini, Sachin, aunty and Khushi enjoyed the “curd rice” that I had made at the Airbnb, while I enjoyed the roti and subzi that Mini had made.
Wednesday Sept 12, 2018 – Seeheim to Munich
We had decided the previous evening that Sachin, Krishnan and I will do a short ride to complete the Pedalyatri reunion and thats exactly what we did. Here are some pics from our morning ride.
After breakfast, we took a train to return to Frankfurt central station. Sachin and Mini came upto the train station to bid us goodbye. What a nice trip this is turning out to be ! We have spent time with close friends and even if it has been just a day with Sachin and Mini, we really got a chance to share a lot more than we could during our cycling rides in Gurgaon.
At the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, we took out our luggage from the lockers and helped two Chinese young men who were struggling to put their luggage into the locker as we were the experts now :):). Mini had packed lunch for us so we just had some fresh orange juice and took the Munich train EC 117 at 2.20 pm. One of the train stops on this route is Stuttgart which has the famous Benz museum and the other famous location that we pass through is Ulm which is the birthplace of Albert Einstein.
Reached Munich and saw Keshav at the station. He made us buy the 7 day ticket so that we could go on the U-Bahn, tram and bus as needed over the next 7 days. We came home and after dinner, Keshav and Anu took us to the awesome Sarcletti Eiscafe, the ice cream place that has become a regular spot for Krishnan.
I was remembering the first time Keshav and I spoke over the phone … way back in Dec 1999 when I worked for Pizza Corner and Keshav joined as a Management Trainee. We have been friends for 18 years and to meet him and Anu in Munich is very special indeed.