Thursday, 16 January 2014

A Solo Adventure: Friedrichshafen

Travelling alone was one of the many things in my bucket list and I am glad to finally be able to cross it out of the list. The curiosity of venturing into the partially unknown place is really thrilling. Of course, I’ve read travel guides, browse through tripadvisor but the idea of exploring an place on my own was still really exciting.

It all started when one day between my lectures, I was casually browsing for flight tickets to Germany or Austria. I always wanted to see the Christmas markets in the German speaking countries because as I know it their Christmas Market had centuries of history. Also, I have a tiny craze over German speaking places although I can't speak a word of German. The only reason I can think of is the amazing bratwurst! or maybe I was a German in my past life hmmm….

I found flight tickets to Friedrichshafen which is near Lake Constance that connects the borders of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The best part is I manage to find reasonable return tickets from Austria; making the total of my return flight to be less than £70. Then, my fickle alter ego took over. For nights, I was cracking my brain over if I should go with Friedrichshafen-Munich-Salzburg or Friedrichshafen-Innsbruck-Salzburg or Friedrichshafen-Salzburg-Vienna and the combination was endless. Finally, I settled for Friedrichshafen-Salzburg-Innsbruck after calculating price of the flight and train ticket, hostel rates and length of trip. Honestly, I didn’t even know there is such a place called Friedrichshafen and I can't even pronounce it right until I was checking in for my flight at Gatwick Airport.

Friedrichshafen train platform covered in bits of snow and frost

Took off from London on the same morning as my ex-housemate Royd who was flying to Vienna and spent my final moments before the solo journey having breakfast with him. When I am finally alone, it felt rather surreal that my solo adventure is actually happening. Flying budget isn’t exactly my favourite but the budget airlines must somehow adore me because they always put me in window seats. Since I always fly on early morning flights, the best part of being on the window seat is to be able to watch the sunrise. After about an hour and a half, I’ve landed in Friedrichshafen with a freezing temperature of -2°C and all beyond the airport was covered with snow and frost.

After a train ride to the city centre, my plans were to drop off my luggage in Jugendherberge Friedrichshafen and then explore the bigger towns like Konstanz near Lake Constance. Unfortunately, after walking 30 minutes to the hostel, I find it to be quiet and the doors were locked and worst of all I don’t understand anything the sign on the front door. The only thought I had was “OMG ARE THEY CLOSED FOR GOOD?!”. Then, it started hailing and snowing. How brilliant! Luckily, there was a cafe just across the road and to my relief, I was told the hostel was operating and the staff probably went for lunch or something. Considering that 30 minutes back to the town centre was far too long a walk in the snowy weather, I had a super long lunch at Cafe und mehr and waited 3 hours for the hostel reception to open. During that 3 miserable hours, I pondered if I made a right decision on travelling alone and actually wished there was someone else on the trip. Finally at 3pm after 3 freaking hours of waiting, I checked in, dropped off my bags and visited the Zeppelin Museum. A pretty impressive museum displaying the history of Zeppelin and their usage before airplanes came about.

The Friedrichshafen Christmas market was really small and had only about 30 stalls so I decided to take the ferry over to Konstanz for the bigger Christmas market. One of the best decision in the trip! The Konstanz Christmas market was pretty impressive with a large variety of stall. I stuffed my face into a grilled pork bun and currywurst. Ahhhh the bliss of eating currywurst twice in a day!

Decorations of the Zeppelin Museum

Konstanz Christmas Market bustling with crowd
My Love, Bratwurst :D

My train to Salzburg was at 7.30am. Waking up early is my biggest weakness in life. Whenever I have an early flight, bus or train, I would either stay awake all night or simply avoid the early rides. This time around because I was travelling on a budget, I had to buy the early train ticket which was at least €20 cheaper than all other times of the day. Thank goodness I woke up even before my alarm rang. This solo adventure definitely taught me that at times you just gotta depend on yourself.

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