Sunday, October 17, 2010

Stranded in Gelnhausen

On my way to Dresden for a one week trip to Wroclaw (Breslau) and Cracow (Krakau) I started in Freiburg on Saturday, October 9, at 6.52 a.m. taking the InterCity Express (ICE) direction Frankfurt or instead at 7.15 a.m. since the train from Basel arrived in Freiburg twenty minutes late. Initially, I didn't worry about the delay but rather enjoyed the Butterkuchen (a piece of cake made from yeast dough covered with sugared sliced almonds roasted in butter) and the pot of coffee that one gets served at the seat. This treat has become my favorite standard whenever I travel by ICE in Germany.

That I did eventually make it in Frankfurt's central station was because the connecting train arrived on the other side of the same platform and was delayed too. Soon after the ICE to Dresden had left Frankfurt in the direction of Fulda, the loudspeaker informed us about an abandoned Aldi plastic bag in coach 22. Oh, oh! A few minutes later, the train ground to an unscheduled halt at Gelnhausen station. All passengers had to leave the train, the platform, and even their luggage behind.

Gelnhausen is a small town in Hesse with beautiful half-timbered houses where the poet Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen was born in 1622. He is famous for the first German novel ever written: The adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus during the Thirty Years War. Besides, Gelnhausen sports the remains of a Kaiserpfalz (Emperor's palace).

Waiting at a safe distance on platform 1 for the big blow
Time was too short for a visit, although it took 30 minutes before the Federal Police arrived for an investigation into the plastic bag affair. At the same time, we were waiting at a safe distance on platform 1 for another 90 minutes. Luckily enough, it was a beautiful sunny day.

A female German shepherd on her way to sniff explosives
Suddenly the crowd opened a passage for an awe-inspiring police officer and his dog. From then on, it still took another hour before the sniffing dog had declared the plastic bag as clean. In the end, we were invited to re-mount the train and meet our luggage again.

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