I can’t emphasize enough how important Midsummer is for Finnish people. Midsummer is normally celebrated at the end of June, and it’s the most meaningful event of the summer. Traditionally Finnish people gather at a lake or by the sea to celebrate it. Although in 2014 the weather in Finland had been anything but summery (seriously, it had been snowing in June!!!) I still wanted to cherish the tradition and spend my midsummer by a lake – even if I was living in Germany.
Therefore I had agreed with my dear friend Katarina to meet up at Lake Constance to celebrate midsummer. Lake Constance is located at the borders of Germany, Switzerland and Austria and I had heard it is an extremely beautiful place.
We had booked an apartment right next to the lake and agreed to meet in Konstanz after 10 am on Saturday morning. Katarina would take a train from Thun, Switzerland and I would catch the bus from Düsseldorf already on Friday evening at 11:10 pm to be in Konstanz at 10:15 am on Saturday. That meant I had a long night ahead of me.
Like Finnish people often do, I was “a little bit” early at the bus stop in front of the central station of Düsseldorf. This means about 40 minutes prior to departure. Luckily I met a nice German girl that I could chat with while waiting. I didn’t pack too much stuff with me for a couple days trip, especially when the weather forecast predicted sunshine and 27 degrees at our final destination, which was Eschenz, Switzerland (yes, I took a risk and relied on the weather forecast).
So, the bus was supposed to pick us Düsseldorf travellers up at 11:10 pm. However, at 10:50 pm we received a text message saying that there is a technical problem with the bus and it will be a little bit late. Oh, ok, a little bit late, no worries. We had plenty of time, and I would need to change the bus in Stuttgart where I was supposed to wait for 2 hours for the next bus anyway, so I thought this little delay would reduce my waiting time. And the situation wasn’t that bad after all, at least there were other travellers to chat with while waiting.
The next text message from the bus company arrived 25 minutes after the original departure time. The message said that due to a technical problem, the bus will be at least 2 hours late. Well, occasional misfortunes belong to travelling, and as we had already been waiting for 25 minutes, we would have only an hour and 35 minutes left to wait. Chilling out at the bus stop, no problem. Besides, if the bus will be late only for 2 hours, I could still catch the second bus in Stuttgart. The only bad side was that even a Finn started to feel a bit chilly in the midnight breeze.
After 2 hours and a bit, we started to call the customer service to find out where the bus is going. It was around 01:15 am when they told us that the bus will be soon taken to the maintenance to find out where the problem lies. Excuse me!?!? They knew about a technical problem for more than 2 hours ago, why they are taking the bus to maintenance now when customers had already been freezing at the bus stop for 2,5 hours? We made another phone call to the customer service just to check where the bus physically is at the moment. In Essen, great. By car it would take 20–30 minutes along the Autobahn, but approximately one hour by bus. So we would still need to wait for a looooong time.
So we kept on freezing at the bus station. Three hours after the original departure time one German gentleman called to the customer service again to ask where the bus is going now. We got the best answer ever: “We had a mechanic here but it was a wrong one. So now we need to wait for the correct mechanic to arrive so that the bus can be checked. The bus has not been cancelled yet, but I am afraid it won’t be arriving tonight.”
Wrong mechanic? What? What is a ‘wrong mechanic’ anyway? I guess I need to check it in the dictionary.
It was 02:10 am and I had the feeling that my midsummer weekend was over before it even began. Luckily I was able to reach Katarina in the middle of the night to tell her the bad news. So we agreed that we would try again next weekend. Now we are just crossing our fingers to get our money back from the paid apartment that we had to cancel last minute. I started to walk back home and wished good luck for the rest of the poor people who still stayed at the bus station hoping for a miracle or to catch the next bus at 06:35 am (or the bus that is SUPPOSED to arrive at 06:35 am). At this point, the customer service didn’t answer the phone anymore despite several trials.
When I got back home around 03:30 am, I received one more message from the bus company saying that the bus will not arrive tonight. I guess the correct mechanic never arrived then. Oh well, I have a feeling the bus company will get some serious customer feedback.
So we will give Lake Constance another try next weekend; it will be a midsummer vol. 2! Hopefully next weekend we’ll be able to get at least halfway. Although I think I will search for a shared car instead, I have a feeling I lost my trust to a certain German bus company. Especially after hearing stories from the other passengers at the bus stop; apparently, it wasn’t the first time this happened!
Travel broadens the mind. Even though my only travelling this weekend was a walk from home to the central station and again back home, at least I met some interesting people and gained one more silly experience. Yay!
Better luck next weekend. Hopefully.