Days in Europe (Pt 1)

Solo tripping in Germany and England with my nagging inconvenience.

Despite experiencing pain every day, I still managed to make the most out of the hours when I am less in pain, and I never regretted proceeding with the trip.

I spent one week in Germany, and another one in England.

I would say that I was an extreme optimist and hopeless romantic. Even with these gnawing pain everyday, I brought my climbing shoes, because my friend in Reading told me that there is a good climbing gym in Reading. I even booked a place in the ski town Altastenberg, Germany because the little town house was just 100m away from the ski field, and I was actually excited and looking forward to skiing. (In pain? Really?) Plus I have not met my elder brother for 3 years, it is the right time to visit Europe again.

When I was in Europe, my nagging inconvenience created a daily schedule for me, and it looks like this:

My nagging inconvenience’s daily schedule

I planned my daily activities according to this schedule, which means everyday I have approximately 8 hours when pain is bearable for me to move around. Every morning I will be awaken by pain, pain as a result of cold weather and the joint weakness. I would be lying motionlessly in my bed with my eyes wide open. It was like in the movies where you can see everyone passing by, and everything else happening before your eyes, but you could not participate.

I wanted to get out of my bed, but I could not. My fingers are stiff, my body felt tired and weak. If I laid still the pain would build up in my joints. I tried to move as much as I could so that the pain did not have chance to linger around my joints. I still recall that every morning I would watch youtube videos, and it would always start with this Beats commercial, where a bunch of monkeys discovered a Beats speaker, and started to dance to Coldplay’s An Adventure of a lifetime.

Around 7am I would decide that I will not spend my day lying in bed, and summoned all my strength to move out of my bed. Started my days with painkillers, with the beginning days on paracetamol, and later on NSAIDs. (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Day 1 – Day 3: Altastenberg : And there was no snow

I had a lot of fun taking the train from Bonn to Altastenberg. Along the way I saw sceneries that made me temporarily forget about my life situation.

The skies, the field and the tracks

I was almost stranded in the bus station as because I misunderstood a train schedule, missed the train, and the last bus was 6pm.

This train schedule caused me to miss my train. See the different symbols and how there are different timing applicable for different days? My understanding was as long as the name of the station and train number appeared in one of the timing that would mean that the train would arrive at that timing. But RE57 nor RE14776 did not appear at 13.45pm that day.

Luckily a private van that was going to Winterberg agreed to send me to my homestay without any charge. Phew. Otherwise I would be spending my night in the station. I reached the homestay around 8pm, and in winter, that means it was super dark. The homestay that I went had a bar on the first floor and I was staying in the third floor. The nice people in the homestay helped me upstairs with my luggage. They asked me to join them for a drink after I settled down with my luggage.

But of course I never went down again until the next day. At 6pm I was already starting to feel pain at level 6, but I had temporarily forgotten about it because I was overcame by the worry that I might be suffering the same fate as the little match girl in Andersen’s story, and on the next day, the sun would shine on my cold, lifeless body. Not until I reached the third floor of the homestay at around 9pm did everything caved in, and I started to feel pain at level 9, and I scrambled to clean up and crawl into the bed.

Altastenberg is essentially a ski area. I would not even call it a town. There were only 3-4 streets, and less than 20 houses around the area. When I woke up the next day, I was greeted with this from my window.

No snow.

When I walked down to the ski field. Once again. No snow.


As disappointed as I am, somehow deep down inside my little heart heaved a sigh of relief. Truth to be told, even if I managed to start skiing, who knows if the falls and coldness from the snow would aggravate my symptoms? What if in the middle of the ski my painkillers are outlasted by my pain and there was no-one to help me out from the ski field? What if the ski boots cut into my already swollen feet and all of a sudden I could not walk anymore?

I suppose despite it all, I still feel very grateful that I was given the 8 hours a day. During the 8 less-pain hours, I was still reminded that life is truly beautiful no matter how painful I am, and that there will be hope the next day. As a matter of fact, now that I looked back, I do not remember much about the debilitating pain that I experienced during the remaining 16 hours when I was back to my lodging and when I was asleep. My sleeps were interrupted and I was always awaken by pain.

I did take a stroll down in Winterberg, and it was such a beautiful little town that I swear that I will be back when I get better. Unfortunately my pictures from Winterberg were completely wiped out when I updated my phone. Maybe this means I must revisit the small town again when there is snow.

Day 4 – Day 5: Getting lost in Bonn

When I was in Bonn, I stayed with my brother. Everyday I would explore Bonn on my own before meeting my brother after he came back from the university during lunch time, or at night.

There was this one particular day when I got so lost that I almost had to walk 10km back to the main train station if I did not meet a kind man who offered to send me back. I planned to go to the famous street with the cherry blossom (except that it was winter, and there may not be cherry blossom. But hey, there must be something else?) , and brother told me that I should take a tram to the station called ‘Rosental’. For some weird reasons, I mistaken the bus that stopped by the tram station was in fact the tram and went onto it.

And it brought me to this.

Random suburb with a horse ranch!


When I realised that I was on a bus instead of a tram, I knew I had gone too far. So I rang the bell and alighted the bus. I walked along the never ending road and came to this.



10kms away from Bonn

See, maybe it is not such a bad thing to get lost after all? Maybe the same can be said about my nagging inconvenience? It is there for me to learn something? Or to get something good out of it?

Of course I might not have the same conclusion if there was not a kind man who offered to send me back to Bonn hbf while I was stranded in the suburbs. My brother even commented that I have chosen to get lost willfully, and then thumb the lift of some random stranger’s car. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I was back to Bonn safely, and have not lose faith in humanity. Everything seems to be well except for the 16 hours of pain when I was back in my place of stay.

Stay tuned for the part 2 of my trip to Hamburg, and to England!

Author: Li

This is a blog about the journey with my friend - Lupus, 500 days and counting after I was diagnosed. After I passed the initial stage of acceptance and moving on, it has been well so far. Whilst I have a full time job, I am also a writer for hire and could write just about anything. Contact me if you see anything that you like!

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