After a quick 12+ hours on planes and in airports and milling around waiting for someone who looks like they know where I am supposed to be to share the secret with me, I arrived safe and sound in the land of umlauts and spelling everything with at least one “k”. After a brief two days in Hanau, because they weren’t taking anyone at the inprocessing facility in Darmstadt which is where I was supposed to report on that day, I made it to said destination.
Well, I made it to what is now referred to as Destination One.
As it turned out, after handing in my medical records and beginning the inprocessing work, my unit hemmed and hawed and decided that I would best serve my country (while in another country) from the seclusion of the eastern portion of the country. Which, I add, is not where I currently sat. This decision, of course, only resulted in more hemming and hawing and a great deal of grumbling on both our parts as they tried to figure out how to get me to the general vicinity of where I ought be. Enter Destination Two, for which I have yet to leave at present. Also enter process of regaining my medical records and figuring out what I needed to inprocess here and what needed to wait until I was across the country.
The reason I have yet to leave for Destination Two after sitting at Destination One for a week and a half is because the entire unit save a very small skeleton crew appears to be on a live fire exercise, conveniently in the eastern half, and there is no one to come and pick me up from The Great West and transport me to The Rural (Though Undoubtedly Quaint) East. And so I wait. From Destination Two I get to sit there for two weeks and do things Destination One probably could have accomplished such as German lessons and getting me a local driving license, but refused to do because as far as they were concerned I became Destination Two’s problem as soon as my unit cut those orders. I doubt Destination Three even knows that I’m coming…
While I wait, I plan trips around and about the “easy to get around” continent. I went walking the several miles into and around the city of Darmstadt, where the people were friendly and we puzzled out the menu in German with enough clarity to find something edible, and a no-nonsense one day trip to Brugges in Belgium is on tap for this weekend, but then comes the ever popular four-day weekend of Memorial Day. By that point I will be at Destination Two, which I have failed to mention is in the middle of the Bavarian wilderness, and within very closer proximity to the engaging Absolutely Nothing. So I tried to figure out how to leave that area for the weekend, preferably by train since I have no auto transport (see above). I read a few pamphlets. I asked around. I looked it up on the internet. And I came to a very strong and definitive conclusion:
The Eurail system operates on principles only slightly more complicated than quantum physics.
Luckily, I remember some quantum from college, so I could dust that off to help me, but I still struggle. I could get a 15 day flexpass for half my life savings, or a two month unlimited pass for the price of a small home, or even sell my organs and get just a simple train ride from Ansbach to Heidelberg (though it would take at least the other kidney to get back). Nothing is sold as round trip, it seems, and there are about 10,500 possible tickets to get. For once, not an exaggeration.
To take a break, I departed the library which closes at between 1800 and 2000 like everything else on post and most things in town (and is closed on Mondays, though everything else is closed all weekend every weekend) and headed to my temporary barracks room, where I found a large and very loud beetle hanging out with my still packed belongings. My room was supposed to be a single living area, so I attempted first to evict the company, then further measures needed to be taken as it buzzed about angrily. I dropped one of my bags on it. I removed the bag. The thing buzzed at me. I dropped my bag back on it. I sat on the bag. I removed the bag. The thing buzzed at me. Moderately disturbed by the resiliance of the German Bug, I placed a plastic bag over it, stepped on it, and promptly swept it under the nightstand.
Another continent, more bugs. I can’t win, but I can fight back.
Off to find out where they want to send me this time…