Friedrichshafen Ham Radio 2010

Wednesday / Thursday

I can’t do much else right now (limited data roaming & next to no signal), but I can write.

My journey to FN started months ago. I decided to book my flights with RyanAir in January from London Stansted directly to Friedrichshafen . I even through in priority boarding and 1 price of hold baggage.

I also contacted Friedrichshafen tourism to book a hotel. This was soon reserved, then sods law kicked into overdrive.

Ryanair started changing the times, then days of the flights. My boss was getting annoyed as I had to change my leave a few times. Being Ryanair, they still had one final card to play, and this was a dozy. They cancelled the route in March.

I was gob-smacked. So eventually I got a refund, but this wasn’t very fast. What to do now??

• Easyjet. But they don’t fly to Friedrichshafen.
• Lutfhansa. Via Frankfurt, Expensive.
• Eurostar. Expensive.
• Drive. No License yet.

Easyjet seemed best. But would be via Zurich. Also when I checked flight times was out on Thursday at 6:35am & return at 20:05 in evening.

So I booked it. And was less than Ryanair.

Next was the trains & boat to Friedrichshafen. Simple. I went to times checked, tickets booked and posted to arrive 2 days later.

My journey actually started on Wednesday 23rd June. After packing (& later realising I left my large 16gb memory card at home) I headed from the Warehouse Theatre bar in Croydon. I had arranged for them to open between 3-5pm (as are normally closed then) for the England World Cup game. I am glad I did.

It was also at this point I found out that realise we might play Germany, later confirmed.

A beer or to later an when the game had ended I headed to East Croydon station, and boarded a train to Horley.

I has arranged to stay with my grandparents until late then head to airport, rather than wake them at 2am.

My granddad agree to pay for a taxi, and after a Chinese meal, I started to watch the record breaking Mahut vs Isner tennis match, but isn’t my thing, and I was starting to fall asleep.

I went and had a few hours sleep and awoke about 10pm. After a freshen up, I phoned for a taxi for 11pm. I said goodbye to my grandparents and was at Gatwick by 11:20pm.

Upon arrival I made my way to the pre-check-in area and had a coffee. I checked emails, twitter and realised my iPhone needed a charge, but I wasn’t like others who plugged in the wall sockets, oh no, I had a plan.

Being a geek at heart I powered up my laptop which was fully charged and used it to charge my iPhone and 3G wifi device. Once I had checked emails, etc, I put the laptop in standby so they would still get a charge. It worked beautifully.

After sitting a while. I needed to have a wander to stretch my legs, an decided to see if I could check in. When I got there the Easyjet desks were empty. But someone who worked at airport said girl would be back shortly. Thankfully even though was hour before proper check-in time & was able to get my suitcase checked in.

I wondered around to security and was closed, but girl in the security area held 3 figures up to incase would open then. It was 1:40. More time to kill.

I went to the M&S store and bought a orange drink. By this time most of the seats had been taken, so I went out to the front of the building to try to get some fresh air and cool down.

I found somewhere. The designated smokers area. Although I was sat there for nearly an hour only 2 people came and smoked there.

After 3am I headed to the security area. I has planned ahead better this time. All pockets emptied into my bag already & toiletries were the correct size bottles. Also I wasn’t wearing my steel toed boots.

The toiletries were in an airport supplied plastic bag, and I has to remove my belt. He asked about laptop and this had to be scanned separately due to the hard drive obscuring images.

I went through the metal detector without incident, but was slightly amused a lady pensioner was being “frisked” (for want of a better word) more than I was.

I spent the hours in departure lounge waiting for my flight to start boarding by recharging my iPhone (again with laptop), and did some shopping. Needed some more toiletries and 2x 2gb memory cards.

Later I found my book reader after buying the cards had an 8gb card. As I am writing this I am not sure I can move the stuff from it to one of the 2gb cards.

At around 5:50am the Easyjet flight to Zurich was called to the boarding gate. Just before 7am we were in the air. So how did I spend the flight?? Yep, Asleep.

Zurich Airport. Wow. The model of efficiency, but was a massive site. We had to get a shuttle train to the baggage reclaim, and with the circular tunnel I did wonder if we were part of the CERN Large Hadron Collider.

At baggage reclaim I overhead some people mention “QRZ” & he then did Dah-dit-dah sound. He had to be a ham.

For the next few hours I travelled with Elaine (RadCom editor), Chris (does RadCom advertising) & Graham from BHI.

First was the on time double-decker train to Romanshorn, then the ferry to Friedrichshafen. On the ferry (unlike the IoW SeaCat) you could sit outside. Then a waitress came to ask us if we wanted drinks.

This was one of my many disastrous attempts at German. I tried to get a diet coke. Even coke cola lite failed, so went with coffee.

At Friedrichshafen ferry terminal my temp travel companions departed and I tried to find the train station to Kluftern. I wandered to the bus station and eventually decided to try Google maps. I used 1.6mb of my 7mb allowance to realise it was behind me.

Not my only mistake. At the station I forgot I had adjusted my watch and though I had a 4 hour wait for next train instead of 50mins. I spent the time doing some US amateur extra questions and soon the train arrived, an left on time to.

I nodded off on the train a few times, and thought I had missed my stop. Thankfully my terrible German helped as someone asked a fellow passenge and I found out was next stop.

At Kluftern was my next Wow moment. As soon as I stepped off the train the hotel was right in front of me, closer than I had thought looking on Google. The hotel was immaculate as well. The Brielmayer family obviously take pride in their hotel. Even as I arrived the lawns were being mowed.

I was asked if I was Gibson. I confirmed and lead into the hotel and the restaurant area. Here my terrible German hit again. They didn’t speak English. The son was eventually called, but his English was limited, but we made headway.

I was asked what time I wanted breakfast, and shown to my room. After travelling since yesterday was nice to finally rest in my room.

The first thing was I had a quick wash. It was more to cool me down than anything. After plugging in everything to charge I read some more of my Amateur Extra book.

After a few hours of peace in the room, I was on need of something to eat & drink. I went down to the restaurant area from where I had been earlier. The young chap from earlier with limited English wasn’t about and I tried to ask for something to eat. The lady gave up an made a call and the chap with limited English appeared again.

Using a totally German menu, with images, and even him bringing some items from kitchen to tell me what they are I managed to order Ham & Cheese on toast. It was nice especially as last thing eaten was the Chinese meal last night.

Oh and a beer to go with it. I am still here in the restaurant area typing this now and hopefully I can keep this detail up all week. If not at least I hope you enjoyed my journey to Friedrichshafen.

* I can’t be 100% sure, but I think the family running the hotel are referring to me as “Englisch”. Every time someone they know has come in, including a few hours some bowlers were in the Nebenzimmer (ante room), Englisch was mentioned every time. Don’t get me wrong about whether I like it or not, but I am not sure whether they are talking about mr.

* Oh and the iPhone battery is shite as used 30% or more typing this.

* Observation time: I am certain I keep hearing French. They are all Germans here, buy I am hearing the odd French word or 2.

* I need to learn German. I get the Odd word, but it’s not enough to have a

* I don’t like being away from the internet. It’s probably good to be without from time to time, but I am an Internet whore. Even at work I have to at least keep an eye on current affairs at BBC News site or Google News. Even when I spent time in hospital I had more access than I currently have. Rant Over!


For those that know me take warning:- Thursday night I was in bed by around 9pm. I did warn you. I was tired from the little sleep since I left home. After a few beers in the hotel bar & a bit of CNN International I went to bed.

I had set my alarm for 7am, but was awake by then anyway. After a shower I went down for breakfast.

I was asked a question by the lady who works here in German. Luckily the other man at my table translated. “Do you want an egg?”. My answer was “nein”.

I was then asked ” do you want Tea, Caffe, or Cola?”. I went for coffee. It was then kindly pointed out the breakfast was self-service. I had already been given a couple of rolls and I got some ham & cheese from the choices on offer.

Once I finished I went back to my room to sort my ruck sack for the day. I had to take anything of value to be on the safe side. This included my laptop, book reader, Icom handheld, camcorder & camera. I decided to leave my US Amateur Extra book in the hotel room.

Until near the time of my train I watched a bit of CNN news. During the news they mentioned the Tennis match which was 59-59 when I left UK ended with Isner winning with 70-68 in 11.5 hours.

With half hour until my train I headed to the station. I got my ticket then checked the times. The train was due in 20mins. About 10min later one of the other guests from the hotel was beckoning me. I wandered over and he offered me a lift to the Messe. Cool.

Although I had brought a ticket I only got a single as couldn’t see return ticket on the machine, and 3 zone ticket was way more than 2x a single ticket.

Once in the car I learnt they 4 were from 80km south of Paris & attended every 2 years. As I was in the front I chatted to the driver (who I think knew more English than other 3) about what we liked about Ham Radio.

A short while later we arrived at the Messe. Finally my meticulous planning had come undone. I hadn’t brought the 3 day pass in advance. I had to queue for about 20-25mins in what felt like a rugby scrum. Eventually the ticket was purchased and I went through the gates.

I took some photos of the queue (which by the time I post this should be on Flickr).

I had lost the French guys by this points so decided to start by heading to the Flea Market. I had long got in there when one of the people I met at Zurich asked if I knew where the RSGB stand was. As I knew they would be in hall A1 I offered to show him. Once in there he was happy enough to wander to find it, so I thought I would just carry on in there.

I was looking for the Slovenian Radio Club stand and took a while, but found it right at the back of the hall. Typical.

Bostjan S55O was there when I arrived talking with Oliver DJ9AO. We chatted a bit but Bostjan was on the stand until later in the day, so I went of to see more of event with Oli.

Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, DARC, RSGB, ARRL, Bavarian Contest Club and many more manufacturers & Clubs had stand we visited or passed in the A1 hall. We even got a QSL card from the Qatar Society. Note: must work then to thank them some time.

After a while of wandering we headed to the food stand in centre. I had already decided I wanted Curry Wurst which I had with Chips. Not exactly healthy, but I missed out last time as didn’t know they did it.

After the food we followed it with a beer.

We parted at this point as a friend from local club had arrived and I tries to find him or him me. A few texts later and a missed phone call j was about to phone him when j saw him waving.

We chatted about the event and what we brought, journey, etc until he ha finished his meal. I had eaten earlier to just drank some Cola Lite (Diet Coke).

Just after 2 when he finshed, I went to meet the WWYC’ers. Fabian DJ1YFK, Oliver DJ9AO & Bostjan S55O were there and another chap who I didn’t get his name. Christian a friend of Bostjan’s joined a bit later.

We chatted mostly in English, but understandably at times they used their own languages.

A few beers later they decided to try the Bavarian Contest Club pileup contest. While they did that I went to the ARRL stand to renew my membership for another year. €32 option which I get the CD (which last time was in March). I also got the latest QST paper version.

Once I had renewed I went back to Bavarian Contest Club stand. When the all finished I decided to head off to see some more of show.

After a Wurst roll I had a look around the Flea Market which I hadn’t really done earlier. Wasn’t anything that took my interest although I only went round 1 of 2 Flea Market halls.

It was about 5:30 by this point so thought was best to start the journey back to the hotel. The French guys from earlier ha said they would be going elsewhere after so couldn’t offer me lift.

I just missed the 5:35 free bus to Hafen & Stadt so waited foe the 5:55. By that time the queue had built up and as the queue had gone to pot and although I was first, it was standing room only when I got on board.

I got off at Stadt as knew was as busier station from the timetable. A quick check in the Infomation office and I knew my train was the next one in, although the timetable doesn’t sat Kluftern, but a note is indicated which I can only assume means “& the all stops to”. The train sitting there left and was sure a short time later was same one back.

The destination changed to Radolfzell which is the route Kluftern is on. It was warm on board. I had been hot & sweaty all day, but this was a new level of hot.

German efficiency went out of the window when for a reason I wasn’t able to understand nor fathom the train was 10mins late leaving.

Someone on the packed train then tried to open the locked window above me. Next a young lad tried without success. Eventually they tried the one on the opposite side of the carriage and a slight breeze was felt in the train.

Once I was at Kluftern I took the key from my bag and hid it away and went to my room. After a quick freshen up, a quick check was done on my finances.

It was then time for a few beers and to write this my journal for today.