I realized the night before that I hadn’t made reservations for the day’s train journey, but wasn’t overly concerned as I figured that a late morning train on a Monday would not be overly crowded. As we drove to the station I thought over it again and decided that it was probably worth getting them anyway so that we could sit together, and after my friend dropped us off I headed over to the ticket desk and requested reservations for 4 seats together for our journey.
I recalled having been able to get reservations while on a train in the past and figured there would be no issues getting reservations an hour or so ahead of the first train that would need them, but that wasn’t the case – that train had already left it’s first station, and the ticket agent informed me that after that point they couldn’t make reservations. No big deal in my mind; we had a fairly simple itinerary to get to our end station for the day – Coburg to Nuremberg on a regional train, Nuremberg to Frankfurt on an ICE, and Frankfurt to Heidelberg on an IC. We’d have a couple of hours to sample Heidelberg, then pick up our rental car and head west over the Rhine to our accommodation in Wachenheim an der Weinstrasse for an early evening arrival.
The first train was easy – it started in Coburg and was sitting at the platform, so we boarded and settled in. We arrived in Nueremburg with plenty of time to transfer trains as well as get some pretzels at a bakery in the station, and while we were standing on the platform the thought struck me that since two of my nieces had first class railpasses it might be easier for us to split up for the trip to Frankfurt; they could make full use of their passes and 2 groups of 2 is a much easier find than 1 group of 4. I pointed out to them the part of the platform where the first class section would board and then headed to the second class area with my other niece. About that time the train came and we boarded.
About 15 minutes later I got a text from one of the ones in first class saying that the compartment was pretty full and asking where we were sitting because they might come back to find us. For a few minutes I expected to see them come down the aisle, but when they didn’t I figured they had found seats after all. As we pulled out of the last stop before Frankfurt I sent them a text that the next stop was Frankfurt and we would be getting off the train there. A few minutes later I got a text to the effect of: “Frankfurt? Didn’t they just announce that Halle is the next one?”
It took a few more texts to realize that we were not on the same train. It turned out that shortly after our train arrived at the platform in Nuremburg, another one going the opposite direction arrived at the other side of the platform. Somehow they managed to think it was ours and got on….
Fortunately it was an easily rectifiable situation. I suggested that they get off at the next station, go to the ticket window, and request a connection sheet to Wachenheim and meet us there. They did a variation of that – they found a woman who spoke English who had the DB app on her phone, and she gave them the route information. Given that they had a railpass there was no extra cost or re-ticketing to deal with, so they essentially had a bit of a bonus ride. All that said, it highlights just how useful it can be to pick up a mobile phone that works in the place you are travelling; if this had happened 20 years ago in the pre-mobile age it would have been a bit more convoluted to get back together.
With them on their extended trip, my other niece and I transferred in Frankfurt for Heidelberg, and I thoroughly enjoyed the short ride along the edge of the Odenwald. The plan was to swing by the off-station car rental agency we would be picking our car for the next stage of the trip up at, drop our bags off there, then head into the old part of the city for a quick look before picking the car up and heading over to Wachenheim.
Such was the plan. Reality looked much different. It was hot and muggy, the road I had planned to walk down to the rental place was under construction and the sidewalk was closed, and by the time we detoured a few blocks to get around the construction the idea of walking the mile or so to the old part didn’t seem like such a great idea. Then the rental company couldn’t find our reservation for a Passat wagon, then once they did the car wasn’t ready, and so by the time the keys to a very low mileage black Mercedes E220d diesel wagon appeared I was ready to just get in it and head out. My niece wasn’t dead-set on seeing Heidelberg, so we adjusted our plans and set off for the Pfalz… and I fell in love with our transportation option for the next few days.
We stayed at the B&B located within the winery at Weingut Manz in Wachenheim an der Weinstrasse, so we made our way there and got checked in. We had an hour or so before the other nieces were set to arrive, so we opted for a gelato followed by a bit of a stroll to kill time before heading to the station. We got there about 10 minutes before they were due to arrve when we got another text, this time letting us know that they had gotten on the wrong train in Neustadt and would be arriving later. Somehow that seemed normal for the day, so my other niece and I decided to just go take a walk in the vineyards surrounding the station while we waited. Eventually the others arrived and after a short walk we were comfortably settled in.