A Travellerspoint blog

Down the Rhine by train and a Missed Meeting

July 15, 1964

View 1964 Ship Follower on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

While I was traveling down the Rhine in the train, I got about an hour's nap. If you have followed this from the beginning, you know that, I left Norfolk on July 14th, drove to Baltimore, took the train to Philadelphia, got a bus to NYC, and took a plane to Cologne (with about a hour's sleep) arriving July 15th, had a tour of Cologne, had lunch in the train station before I got on the Frankfurt train.

Most of what follows is what I wrote to my mom.

I sent a card to my daughter in Cologne. In the rush and confusion I forgot to ask whether the stamps that the lady gave me were airmail or not. Also I gave that letter to a soldier in Frankfurt to mail APO, so I hope you get it. [My mom's note was that it had not arrived yet and it is not in the folder with the rest of the letters]

When we got to Frankfurt, it was 1808. I stood around looking for my cousin [whose husband was stationed there and I was supposed to get some things to take to my sister], and then checked my bag. She was looking for my blue suit (and I wasn't wearing that for travel),


and I apparently didn't recognize her. I stood and walked around the station for about a half an hour, and tried to phone, but got a busy signal as it was not a local call.

I finally left the station to look for somewhere it was cool. I guess I should have sat and looked lost, but I was beat and hungry and thirsty. So I looked at the posted menus in the restaurants on Kaiserstrasse and found one and ordered Hamburg steak, F.F. and a coke. The whole thing including tip was slightly under $1.00

Than I went back to the station to try to call her house again, and entered a different way and found the RTO (Railway Transportation Office) lounge. My cousin had made that her base of operations . She left about 10 minutes after I did and also left me a note. The [US] soldier there told me where I could make a long distance call, so I called my sister and let her know what happened. The call cost more than dinner - 5.76 DM.

I went to get my suitcase and to go back to the RTO lounge because it was cool there and the coke machine produced a reasonably cold Coke for 5 cents American money, but I saw that my train was being made up. I calculated that if it took her an hour to drive in, she might just barely make it back and call. She didn't, and I don't know if she tried.

I walked all the way back anyway to "check in" so to speak and a most helpful soldier carried my bag back for me to put me on the train. He was really very helpful and friendly. He said he had been here two years and they all knew him so well, he said that he could go through the gates in civilian clothes, without a pass.

My sister said that my cousin (whom I haven't seen in over 10 years) was dark, thin and short, and the soldier said she was dirty blonde and my height [5'7"].
her photo

her photo

The soldier got the train opened up (a bit early - it was still hot from where it had been sitting in the sun), and put my bag up in the rack for me. Both times after that I managed myself. It is a little like weight-lifting.

This part I did not write to my mom. The train was a French train with a French porter. After the soldier left, the porter came to my compartment and tried some conversation in broken English with a heavy French accent.

He asked me a question and I thought the question was "Do you want allez?" I knew enough French to know that "allez" in French was "To go", and that question made no sense whatsoever to me. So I was confused, plus hot, tired and a bit jet lagged too I guess.

It did not dawn on me until about three times through him asking me this question, that he was speaking all English, and that he was asking me if I wanted "a lay". I didn't of course and I didn't know how to answer him that wouldn't offend him or get me into more trouble, so I kept on acting like I didn't understand him. Eventually he left in disgust.

Back to my letter

I have a compartment [this was a couchette, as it was way cheaper to get a couchette for the night than to sleep in a hotel, and I would have also accomplished transportation] with two other single girls and a German family. I think one of the girls was Italian.

The German family was put on the train by Papa. It was Mama, daughter and a son about 10. Mama and I had the bottom racks. The daughter spoke English and we conversed a little. She had a transistor with an earplug which she listened to. She got into nightclothes, but kept her underwear on.

There's lots of hay and wheat in this country and some things that I guess are silos, made of cement and top heavy. Also there are cornfields and sunflower fields and I supposed those busy things are asparagras fields - bushy and about a foot high. When I said sunflower fields, I mean cultivated ones -- all in rows with their heads all dutifully turned to the sun.

We are now going along a flat broad river between high banks and I see a chateau.

During the night, about midnight, while it was still hot. I went to the WC (which is practically the only place you don't have to pay to go) and washed up and took off my dress and washed it out. I put it back on and stood in the corridor and a half hour later it was dry
. [I was traveling in a nylon knit dress - my mom's note said that this really floored her]

About halfway through the night, I had to put a blanket on because it was so cold.

In a subsequent letter in answer to her exclaimations about this dress washing, I wrote "I didn't really have the whole dress wringing wet -- just washed out some spots on the front and under the arms, but it got wetter than I intended"

When we got to Paris, I asked the little German girl if we should tip the porter, and she didn't know, but she gave him one franc and so I gave him one quarter as I didn't have any French change - only 5 and 10 franc notes.

In the morning I was in Paris.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:18 Archived in Germany

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What an eventful journey!

by ToonSarah

Yes my sister on reading this said that we probably wouldn't do this now. But I think if I was that age now, I totally would do it again.

by greatgrandmaR

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