This morning, I took off bright and early to catch a train to Munich. It’s the first leg of an essentially three-week-long trip around the country, with stops in Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen (to see the mountains), Cologne, Bonn, Königswinter (no idea if there’s anything there, but it’s close to Cologne and Bonn, and it’s where I’m staying), and Hamburg. All the trains to Munich I was considering left sometime in the 8:00 hour, and since sometimes in Kate-land it makes more sense to just assume the earliest train rather than pull out your ticket and check, I ended up being way early to the station, which left lots of time to drink the world’s tiniest coffee, find a much simpler path to Ikea than the one I took a few weeks ago, and laugh out loud like a crazy person when I saw the asking price on a magazine I was considering purchasing (8.50? I don’t think so).

If you ever travel on an ICE (high-speed) train, be careful about putting your laptop on the chair-back table. By some miracle of engineering, if the person in front of you reclines, your table will remain in the same position. If your laptop, like mine, is of a certain (fairly standard) size, the screen of your computer will become trapped in the seat. When you manage to remove it, there will be noticeably more play in the screen hinges than there was before, putting your computer in danger of pinched or disconnected cables or just plan falling apart like a cardboard lean-to in the rain. You will have neither the knowledge nor the tools to repair it.

Assuming the computer survives the trip, I’ve got great in-flight (?) entertainment. Not only is all of Germany passing by (although right now it’s just a lot of plains interjected with windmills and construction sites), but also my computer contains a very amusing collection of short stories to read. You see, I got an e-mail from the Moscow Fulbright Office asking past Fulbrighters to help read and score stories for an essay contest. The participants are schoolchildren (age 7-18), and the prompt has to do with a Russian-American joint field trip to Mars. Something goes wrong, and the children have to work together to solve the problem and also improve the planet they crash-land on in some way.

The e-mail I received said “we’re prepared to send the stories immediately,” which is Russian for “We thought this contest would be a cool idea, but we didn’t realize until right now that someone has to actually read the submissions.” Gotta love ’em.

Fun fact: sometimes when you use AirBnB, your host doesn’t show up. And he doesn’t answer his phone. And he doesn’t answer his e-mail. Sometimes, you have to work. That’s why you booked this place in the first place–it had Internet, and the host said your Skyping a lot wouldn’t bother him. Since you knew you had to work, you stopped and bought bratwursts and a container of sauerkraut to eat so you could Do Bavaria even when you were actually stuck inside working.

Sometimes all that means is that you have to drag around a kilo of German food in your bag for 3 hours while you look for alternate sleeping arrangements.

If you see Erin sometime, give her a pat on the head or back or whatever, since she helped me book my hostel so my identity wouldn’t get stolen.

It is now 11 PM, and I am finally at the hostel and have gotten the Internet to work (after 45 minutes of alternating between hopelessly typing anything I could think of into the  command prompt and asking the hostel staff if they were absolutely sure connecting didn’t require magic).

So far the only nice thing to say about Munich is that the hostel has Ikea beds.

…And that Erin is great. Except that Erin’s in Nebraska.

So far the only nice thing to say about Munich is that the hostel has Ikea beds, and the only nice thing to say about Nebraska is that it has Erin.