Stuttgart - Day 1

Trip Start Dec 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

4:25am ~ Damn, Late!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I wake up and get ready as fast as possible. I stuff my toothbrush and paste into my backpack. Hmm... lights in the bathroom didn't work, and then I realised we'd run out of electricity credits. ARGH! I run to the meter and press the emergency 5 pound button. This should last us until I return to top it up - I hope, since I'm the designated electricity payer.
4:35am and I'm jogging towards Paddington station, constantly looking over my shoulder in case there is a night bus coming my way. I needed to make it to Mrble Arch by 4:50. Bus N15 pulls up and luckily for me, I hadn't waited very long. You know the feeling when you're late, and little things start to annoy you - like this dude was using some dodgey travelpass that the bus driver didn't accept, so we waited for him to run out the ticket machine, put in 10 pieces of change into it, and get back onto the bus. He rolled his eyes at me, thinking that we're both annoyed at the bus driver, but I was just relieved we were moving finally!

There were about 10 or so people at the bus stop. Cool, looks like it hadn't left yet and I could still make my flight with a little time to spare. I waited for the bus... and waited... and waited... waiting.... A drunken group of 5 men show up and start chatting to people around the bus stop. 3 of them asked me whether I'd like to go to Oxford with them and they'd make me breakfast. Apparently, the bacon they would have made, was tops.

Their bus arrived (to Oxford), and the bus stop was suddenly... empty. Ok, something was seriously wrong here. I'd been waiting 40 minutes, and now the only person at the bus stop, was me! Conclusion: Wrong bus stop!

I ran across the street and waited for another night bus to Victoria bus station - where the bus was supposed to have left from. It's also in the wrong direction to the airport, but at least, I should be able to get help finding the bus stop there. The hope was to catch a later bus, and yes, taxi did cross my mind, but at 60 pounds, it wasn't worth it.

10 minutes later, the nigh bus arrived and another 8 minutes, I was at Victoria bus station. A small inkling of panic was beginning to set in now. I kept running through the possible timings in my head, and calculating whether I'd be stuck in London this weekend, or not. The bus journey takes 1.5hrs and check-in closes at 7:30am. So by my thinking, I could 'possibly' arrive at the airport at 7:20am, and I have to 10mins to find the counter and everything.

I walked around the coach terminal for a few minutes, trying to relax while waiting for the bus. There was this one guy standing along, staring at the marble tiles in the small. He looked homeless...

the bus arrived and I took a seat behind th edriver for the great view of the road - NOT! but more so I could make a dash off the bus as soon as it arrived in Stansted. Another one of those 'annoying' situations where some dude was looking for his online reservation form in his backpack while the rest of the bus was waiting. On any other day, I would have just ignored it, but well... I'm in a hurry dude.
Having only slept 3hrs the night before, meant I passed out on the bus quite easily, only waking at 7:15 as the bus approached Stansted. I made a bolt towards the Terminal and check-in counters. I was glad there was no queue, just a small english family checking in. I relaxed a little and well, I've now made it onto the plane :) I looked for a place to have a quick bite for breakfast, but I'd lost my appetite. This is my first visit to Stansted airport.

A german accent over the P.A onboard the plane announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, ve have a slight problem". (Heads rise above the seats in curiousity). "We have been given the wrong tow car, which was meant for another plane. The one they have given us doesn't fit, so ve will be delayed a few more minutes".
Yeh! No sweat - I'm just glad I'm on this plane at all.

Dawn is nice. 8am. how do you like our pink plane? (Check photos :P )

I borrowed 'The Times' to read up on the World Cup Draw which happened last night. I saw a Samurai sudoku puzzle, but didn't ask to take it. I knew Fiona would appreciate it since normal sudoku puzzles just don't cut it anymore for her.

2.80 Euro train ride into town. One of the cheapest airport transfers ever!

The trip got off to a perfect start. Exiting the S-bahn onto KonigstraBe, I walked into the first sports store and found, to my absolute astonishment.... Tactic Stomp Pads for my snowboard!! I have searched for these in Vancouver, Australia, ebay (international), and almost bought them for 40 euros to be shipped from Germany, and after nearly 2yrs, here they are!! They were selling for 5 Euros (discounted from 12), so I bought 2 packs.

The rest of the day can be summarised in a few words. Nice, cold and crowded. The christmas markets were nice. I checked out lots of stalls and as I hadn't eaten anything all day, my eyes continually wandered over all the wurst (sausages) stalls. In the end, I succumbed to the temptation and picked up a 2.50 Euro RostBratWurst, which cost only 1.20 in Berlin.
A few more stalls later, I bought some Mandeln nuts. Cruncy with a weird taste (I think it was ginger), but still sweet.

After sighting more stalls, I needed a rest, so checked into the hostel. I'm staying at Alex 30 which is about 7 minutes walk from the markets ~ wicked! I unpacked what little I had and passed out on the bed. I was hoping to catch 5 minutes nap, but it turned into an hour, so I was late for a 5pm performance of something. Why 'something'? Because the posters and signs were in German and all I could work out was 10-Dec, 17:00 at Alter Schloss. It turned out to be carols in the courtyard of a church building ~ sung in German (of course) and led by a conductor. Some tunes I recognised were 'O come all ye faithful' and 'Angels we have heard on high' (the one that goes 'Gloooooooooooria'). I didn't realise the chorus was the same in German as it was in English (in exselsis deo).

I started to get cold standing there. The clapping sounds were weird. Imagine everyone with gloves and clapping, and you can imagine all the 'padding' going on after each song :)
I moved back into the market & then onto the High st shops to keep warm. Food was the same in many of the stalls, so I was trying to find this fish stall I'd spotted earlier. Once I had located it, it was the tough choice of a fish burger, or a whole smoked mackeral + brotchen (bread). The latter won out, coz it looked heaps cooler. With my wrapped fish and brotchen in hand, I set off to find a barrel to eat on.
I shared one with a small family (dad, mum, and daughter) drinking their wine. I offered them some of my fish, but they politely declined. It's a cool feeling, having all these people walking around and all I could make out of their german was the word , 'fisch'. It was quite nice, a bit salty, but nice all the same. By the end of the dinner, I could barely feel my fingers since I'd removed my gloves so I could eat. As I left the barrel, the daughter chick said 'Konichi-wa' to me. I smiled, and nodded, not wanting to ruin her impression that she'd met a Jap guy. There's my good deed for the day ;)

Moving on quickly, I went and got myself a Gluhwein (hot mulled wine) to warm my hands and body. It tasted nice at the start, but become tough to stomach later on. A little more walking around ~ and then I stopped by a cafe called "Academie" which was quite popular. Just had a Latte Machiato (how do they both go together??) and enjoyed the warmth for a bit. I tried to order ice cream, but they didn't serve any during winter.

Back at the hostel, they have a TV in the room. That's sweet, so I spent the rest of the night watching football.

G'night :)
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