Intermission Entry 16, November 2nd, 2011, 2:23am (GMT +0)
One of the drawbacks to living in the bow is that you are at the the weather end of the ship. When sleeping, my head is about ten feet from the part of the ship that does the “smashing through the waves” that authors always write about. Earlier today I was in the shower when all of a sudden I felt the floor drop out from under me. After falling about twelve feet, I caught my footing and there was a moment of silence before BANG! The Independence had fallen into the trough of a particularly large wave, and the wall of water smacked into the steel hull all at once. The impact set the whole cabin to shuddering, and knocked some small items off of our table. They said to expect three or four meter waves tonight in the Bay of Biscay; this feels more like six, what with all the spray that's washing aboard on the back deck.
Six meters may not sound like much to my readers back on land. Imagine a two story wall of water moving at twenty five miles an hour smashing into a steel plate right next to your head. Now repeat every fifteen seconds. It will be a long time before mankind can build a ship that is not humbled by the sea.
From the notebook, October 13th, Still on the train . . .
We're just leaving Stuttgart, where we dropped the dead engine and picked up three more cars. It's funny to hear the different languages on the train – in the back (my section) everyone speaks French, in the middle section from Amsterdam all I hear is Dutch, and now in the new section from Stuttgart everyone is speaking German. Not that I understand more than a few words of any of it – if they were speaking Spanish I might have a chance, but no luck.
Later, on the train to Vienna (Wien) from Munich (München)
Southern Germany and Austria contain some of the most consistently beautiful countryside that I've ever seen. Everything is wrapped in a neat clipped green carpet. Following a swollen stream down the valley, lots of little towns where the church is the biggest building. Listening to Beethoven's 7th symphony as the train winds its way through Austria – it is amazing sometimes how much more sense a place's music makes when you actually visit the place.