Arrived safely, at last. The flight was uneventful, which is good. Only problem was that they were playing Christmas songs throughout the whole flight. And they only had about 15 minutes worth of recorded songs, so they repeated, and repeated, and repeated...
Frankfurt airport is huge. Kind of confusing too, you have to go miles to find things, like baggage collection. And You see a big sign for it, follow along for a while, and suddenly all the signs are gone, you ask someone, and in fact you are on the right path, but there are just no signs. Everyone spoke good English though.
I found the Fernbahnhof (long distance train station), got my ticket and all. At the actual platform, there was another train sitting there, which had loads of officials wandering about it, and firemen, and so forth. So we stood around, 70 or so people who wanted the train, and I, for about half an hour or more waiting. Eventually, there was some kind of announcement, and we all got told to go to the next platform (up an escalator, along, and down), and get on a different train. My bag is so heavy! I may try and lighten it for the flight to the ship, by wearing heavier clothing and all.
This train got us there, and when we got to Manheim, where I had to change trains, I followed my ticket instructions, and went to the right platform no, and waited. The train turned up, a bit later than it said on the Ticket, but I thought "OK, so everything is delayed today". I got on, and off we went.
About half an hour later, or perhaps more, I started thinking that the station names looked wrong. So I tried to find a map. I found one, on a wall, and examined it. Indeed, we had been going in the right direction, but were now on the way to Worms! So I got off at the next station, found another map, found which train I needed, and headed back to some place which was on the right route. Then I changed trains again, and was now avidly checking the map and the "Näschte Station" sign things.
After a while I heard some people talking in English. Then I heard them mention a conference, and when I was sure they were also coming for this, I went and said hi. One of them is just here for the conference to help cook, and the other is going on to another part of the world. We all got off the train at the right station, and it was a good thing I went and said hi, as neither of them had a map of how to get from the station! So we headed off together, found the right place, and checked in. It turns out we were all staying in the Youth Hostel, which is about 5 minutes drive from the base. We met a few other people who had already arrived, and had dinner.
The rooms at the youth hostel are really good. There are four beds to a room (two bunk-beds), and so far there are only two of us in here. More may turn up later, I guess.
I went and explored the base today as well. It is also very beautiful. The whole of this town is really lovely, with a river, many paths to walk, lots of countryside, and trees. There is a little snow on the ground in places, but it is not everywhere. Apparently it is going to snow this week. That would be really cool. Literally. And I haven't actually seen any snow in so long.
I've met quite a few more people so far, but most people have not arrived yet. I haven't met anyone who is going to join the ships, actually. Hopefully I will soon. The conference all looks like it will be good. There is Wireless internet access in the whole base, which costs 5 euros (for the whole conference). There is also a "internet café", which costs 1 euro per 15 mins. Apparently they introduced this because before many people were blocking the actual computers for too long.
This afternoon I will do some clarinet practice, work a bit more on my German fluency (ha!), and then go back to the base to send email. I'll probably then come back here to leave my laptop, and then go back to the base (again) for the meal and start of the conference.
It is quite cold, outside. Enough that I am glad of my hat, coat, and gloves. The hat is really good.