My life for the next four days is packed into a bag — 22in x 18in to be precise, or around the size of a plumpy pillow. On my way through security at Heathrow Terminal 5, you know the bit at the airport that usually takes ages because of the long queues? Well, this security man opens up a new conveyor belt all for me, “come this way madam, you can be first to go through this one,” he declares. I am delighted at the prospect. I glide through security like a ballerina across a stage. It took me a grand total of 2 minutes to get through to departures.
My next port of call: coffee. But, the queue for Starbucks is about 40 people deep. I mustn’t be the only one with a coffee addiction I think to myself. But then again, it is 6.30am in the morning. i.e. optimum coffee drinking time. However, I don’t fancy spending my hour waiting in a queue, and so I decide to wander past the duty free section and to the other end of the terminal. I notice that one litre of gin is £11 and you can get three toblerones for £10. I wonder, who buys this stuff? Who needs a kilo of chocolate and a litre of gin at the beginning of August?
To my right I also see lots of electrical gadgets, kids trying on headphones, and grown men dribbling over the latest iPads. (You know the way that only men pore over technological items.) My eye wanders to a rack at the front, just as the marketers want, £9 for a European travel adapter I see. At this point I congratulate myself for picking mine up from Poundland. That’s a 900% increase on what I paid — otherwise known as day light robbery!
I end up at The Crown Rivers restaurant and I settle for a latte — there’s no queue here and I can watch the planes take off. “I rock,” I mutter to myself, as I think about how well I’ve done to get to the point where I am sitting in the airport, an hour to spare, with a nice coffee and view of the planes. Relax.
I look out of the airport from my airport style lounge seat and I can see the dark and heavy clouds starting to lift and the bright blue sky emerging from the suppressed depths of British summertime. The clouds hang in the sky like hammocks occupied by overweight holiday makers. It’s a nice view and I sit there sipping my coffee feeling very content and dare I say it — a bit excited for what lies ahead. Germany is a country I’ve never been to and that’s something to be excited about: it’s a country that I’ve wanted to go to ever since I was surrounded by Germans on my student exchange trip to Australia, having lived with two Bavarian girls as well. I’m also very happy to be travelling alone again. I get such a thrill from that, having no one to turn to or influence your trip that is. It’s just you by yourself and that means you have to quieten down and listen to what exactly it is that you want, which is more difficult than you might think!
As I relax into the journey through the sky my mind turns to currywurst. I’m a vegetarian, but I’m also someone who likes to try and experience new things. Can I really go all the way to Germany and not try a currywurst, I think to myself? I laugh at the ethical debate I’m having with myself in my head. It doesn’t get resolved. Instead, I decide it’s probably one of these things which will be resolved by itself.
No sooner have we taken off, we are being served croissants, orange juice and coffee, and shortly after that, the seatbelt signs are back on for our descent. I realise, at this point, that I am so used to going on long haul flight that I have forgotten how close together we are here in Europe. I mean, the journey took an hour. That’s barely enough time to get comfortable!
I start to get a bit anxious when we exit the plane as I am not too sure about the next part of my journey to Springe. I know roughly what I’m doing, but navigating foreign transport and signs with practically no German remaining in my head from my GCSE days is going to be a challenge. Thankfully, the ticket machine had a setting for English. However, it didn’t tell me where to go. I giggle to myself when I realise that there was only one train from the airport back to Hannover main station.
On this train, I sat opposite a guy who had Hannover tattooed down the front of his shin, he was wearing shorts and the letters were a thick Times New Roman font. I thought to myself that the good people of Hannover must be really patriotic to get tattoos of their city on their shins, but maybe I shouldn’t generalise, maybe that was just him!
When I arrived at the main station I got my train to Springe. This was a little difficult as the ticket machine said to go to platform S. However, there were 12 platforms beginning with S. Platform S1 through to S12. At that point, I had to ask as I didn’t want to end up in Berlin of Dusseldorf, or some other far away place for that matter. The lady I asked repeated it, “you mean Spring-er,” she said in a very German throaty kind of way. Apparently, my ‘err scuse me love, you know where Spring is?’ was severely lacking in the pronunciation department.
When I got off the train at Springe I started following my very badly translated directions. I asked someone where the road was, knowing it was only a 25 minute walk away, but she didn’t know. My optimism dwindled slightly, but I continued undeterred by my complete ignorance of where I was going. Fortunately, I had managed to follow the patchy directions and was quite amazed when I found the road of the school. (I think it was sheer naivety that saw me through!) I’d been walking, well stopping, scratching my head, reading my crap directions again, looking around and walking for about the last half an hour. To make things worse, the hill was very steep and I’d set out at 4.15am in the morning. I was tired and in desperate need of a good meal and some water! I plodded up the rest of the hill, yanking my little, but surprisingly heavy, case behind me. I arrived just in time to get some lunch, before the canteen closed. Fortunately, German bratwurst wasn’t on the menu. My dilemma continues.