While walking to and from the gym I noticed a billboard advertising free train tickets (kostenlos probefahren) to a town called Gotha. I knew nothing of the town, but since it was free to go to it could make a nice day trip maybe. We haven’t taken a day trip in a long time, since Christmas at least when we went to Goslar. Mainly because train tickets can be so expensive and we just haven’t had the urge. It would’ve cost 40 euros each for round trip tickets to Gotha, which is highway robbery, frankly.
Anyways, after looking up Gotha online it looked like a nice enough town, so I signed up for the free tickets and we went yesterday. The train ride was only about 70-75 minutes long and took us into the state of Thüringen, south east of here in the former Eastern Germany.
It was pretty clear from the get go this was a dead place. On our walk from the train station into town we saw maybe three people and a few cars. Sure, it was a Sunday and the weather wasn’t amazing (but it wasn’t terrible either, by German standards), but it was still unusually quiet out.
The town basically has a big park, a castle, and the old downtown. That was it. We were essentially ready to leave within an hour, but had to wait a long time for the next train.
The castle, Schloss Friedenstein, is a early Baroque palace built in the mid-1600s and I really hesitate to call it a castle. I’ve seen office buildings that looked more regal in stature. It was essentially a large, rectangular white building on top of a hill. There was a big inner courtyard, two little towers, and it had some art and history museums inside. It looked fairly rundown even, and some of the exterior paint was stained. I didn’t even want to take pictures of it it was so depressing. Since neither of us are big on museums, we skipped going inside and went downtown.
The town center is pretty and nice and all, but it’s nothing special. It was also completely devoid of people.
I have no idea why there’s a horse head in this little alleyway.
The town hall is nice to look at. Bright red and ornately painted on the north side. You can pay 50 cents to go to the top of the little tower. But who pays money to climb stairs? And the view couldn’t have been that great, the castle hill was taller and within view of there.
And call me jaded, but by now there’s only so many cute little town centres with old European looking buildings before they just start to look the same. It’s all just normal to me now. Kind of sad.
So we did what any German does when they have time to spare and the weather isn’t terrible. We had ice cream. Ridiculous ice cream sundae concoctions. Even then we had over an hour to kill, so we wandered around the park for a while and then just waited at the train station.
But the train ride home was the worst. Every seat was already full by the time we got on. Sure, there were some seats that were just taken up by someone’s bag, or had a sleeping person laying over, but I’ve never seen a German willingly hand over these seats. They’re already doing everything they can to signal they don’t want to sit next to you. So we stood in the area between cars with a bunch of other people. When the train first left some water (at least we hope it was just water) leaked out of the ceiling and fell all over Chris. So we moved and basically sat in the wheel-well for the entire ride.
I guess everyone was going to Göttingen like us (where the train ended) as I only saw 3 people get off the entire ride. Plenty more got on, of course. The worst was, when a couple got up to leave I hurried over to grab their seats only to find the two people who were sitting opposite them rushing to fill the empty seats with their bags. Assholes. German assholes.
And, of course, when we got back to town it was raining. Hadn’t rained all day, but once the train got into town it was raining. Go figure.
So that was a bust. Don’t know if we’ll be doing any other day trips before we leave. I’ll probably go to Kassel one more time to see the big art exhibition. And who knows, maybe Chris will crave Pizza Hut enough for us to go to Hannover. But we’re certainly never taking the Regiobahn again. Those trains are the worst.