Plastic fantastic arrives
In a continuing battle with the forces of incompetence, I finally received and managed to pick up my new ATM card today. at 10:30am, I went online from my hostel in Freiburg, checked DHL's tracking service, and saw that my package was in Zürich, and was "with courier vehicle" (i.e. actually in the van, about to be delivered to Mark and Susi's surgery). So I grabbed the tram to Freiburg train station, just managed to catch the 11am train back to Zürich; and by 1:45pm, I too had arrived back in Zürich, and had caught the tram over to the surgery. And what did I see, quite literally just as I walked in? I saw the DHL guy walking out of the building, having only just delivered the package — took him all day just to drop it off there; how bloody pathetic!
Anyway: it was pretty disappointing how hopeless DHL were in speedily delivering the new card; but although they were late, at least they were just in time, as far as my schedule was concerned. As soon as I'd collected the card (and said a hurried second goodbye to Mark and Susi), I hopped straight back on a tram to the train station, and then jumped straight back on the train out of Zürich. Thank heavens, I just made it to Cologne by 8pm, in time to still have my planned meetup with Regine up there. It's been a rushed day, and a day of much sitting on trains and trams: but fortunately, at least, it's also been a day of making it just in time for every deadline, and of managing to avoid the day's "schedule of dominoes" from falling on top of each other (if you know what I mean — one missed train, and the dominoes would have all been on the floor).
Today was also the third day during which I used my 10-day within 2 months Eurail Select Pass (the first day being Rome to Pisa, and the second being Venice to Zürich), and the first day during which I really appreciated its usefulness. The trains here in central Europe are incredibly punctual, reliable, and comfortable. However, they're also quite expensive — especially the trains in Germany (including but not limited to the famous high-speed ICE services, which go almost everywhere). Being able to hop on-and-off such trains — as I did today — for an unlimited flat fee, is incredibly handy and cost-effective. Good trains + Eurail pass = sweet!