So then I get a brainwave. Of course - the night train. I only have to hang out in the station for about 4 hours and not only will I get to my destination, I will be taken there in my bed, aka a nice little couchette.
I go into the booking office and reserve a couchette, only to realise that I've left my laser card on the kitchen table back in Galway. I'm not that impressed with myself at the best of times, but bringing on a situation where I am now a homeless bag lady in Frankfurt station is not exactly impressive. I have about enough left to pay for the couchette, a soggy salami roll and a bottle of the cheap water, leaving me with a surplus of €13 which will have to get me to my location upon arrival and somehow pay the ticket to Berlin for 50 odd quid or so. But I decide to worry about that later, first I need to get to Leipzig, and let's face it, this is turning into quite some adventure, after all, I spent all of my teenage years wishing that I could be transported from my bedroom to school by means of someone taking me there in my bed. So wasn't this the nearest I'd ever get?
'All the way to Prague?' Oh god, now there was a thought, but now that I've become a respectable woman with an appointment in Leipzig, I can confidently tell the stranger that no, I'm not going all the way. I'm definitely not changing plans on a whim now that it's my kids who will kill me when I get home and not my mammy.
We pull out of the station and I'm loving it. The shunting sounds, the screeching and just the excitement of thinking that I could go to bed in Frankfurt and wake up in Leipzig. I settle into my couchette which sounds so much like cosy and couch and all comfy things. In fact it is not much more than a plank with a fresh shroud, a blanket and a pillow. And these things are designed more for the anorexic than the rubenesque. I turn off my kindle light and take off my jeans. I wonder if he's the perv type trying to have a peek, or is he just your normal practical German who sees this adventure as nothing more than a practical way of getting from A to B. A short grunty snort gives me the answer. He is asleep and he is the quiet wheezy snoring type. I like it, in a strange way I feel very at home. I'm delighted. I didn't want to be 'the one' who snores, and I lie there in the dark, happy to be thrown together with a travel companion who I tell myself will protect me if pirates try to take over this night train from Zurich to Prague. (I will admit here that the following night was also spent with a stranger upon my return to Dublin in more intimate circumstances and I was guilty of being the snoring partner, but I'm not giving anymore information on that one...)
|Leipzig Train Station|
It was almost noon. The stranger I shared the couchette with would be in Prague by now. A friend who I texted reminded me that I have a German bank account, and despite having no details of my account I did manage to get a few bob out of them. I was saved. I bought a glass of real orange juice in a posh cafe. My plan B of hitchhiking to my appointment was replaced by a taxi. I arrived on time.
'Good afternoon Frau Treanor, did you have a pleasant journey?' 'Very pleasant thank you', I replied.