Agnes – what a girl!

Agnes – what a girl!

Before I catch up with today’s progress I have to share the story of Agnes.

As we braved the rain yesterday, thoughts turned to our next destination on the trail ever southwards and eastwards. We had some ideas and I had found a gem of a hostel on the way to Munich – we just needed some info on travel options.

Agnes greeted us in a rather understated way as we arrived at the information booth in Metz station around 7 o’clock. Agnes is one of those people who may always have looked as old as she looks today; somehow it’s impossible to imagine a young Agnes. Eyes a little red-rimmed, hair brutally short, face slightly wan with a sort of glaze of tiredness across it; it seemed that Agnes had already had a long day. She would, we discovered, be exceptionally helpful in a reserved, resigned, even reluctant way, Agnes has never ‘gushed’.

The first challenge was pretty basic – how to communicate to Agnes where exactly we wanted to go on the morrow. Admittedly my French is far from perfect, but it has been improving these last couple of days and served me well enough in the past. I started off by saying that we wanted to go to Ulm tomorrow; I definitely said ‘Ulm’ in a very French sort of way. She looked at me blankly so I tried ‘Aaaahlm’ in a phonetic sort of way and possibly upped the volume just a touch. Still that blank look of incomprehension. Another go – Oooohlm – no luck. Finally in a flash of sheer brilliance demonstrating my capacity to think on my feet (and in French too), I said “Ulm en Allemagne”. “Ah”, said Agnes, “en Allemagne, Ulm”‘ and I swear she said Ulm just as I had on my first attempt!

The joys of language!

The upshot? A sheet of paper with 3 separate ways of getting to Ulm and every last detail covered! Agnes – quite a girl.

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