I discovered after leaving the restaurant that the only reason I hadn't been accosted by any prostitutes up to that point was because I had Michelle with me. On my way to the hostel, they were out in force. I discovered that their preferred method of getting attention (aside from strutting) is to yell, "Sir, you dropped your credit card!" and then pretend to hold your card in the air. Clever.
Once I got to the hostel, I ran into the room, packed our bags with clothes, and went into the bathroom. The bathroom was behind two doors, one door on the room itself, and then another door a few feet away which enclosed a little hallway between the bathroom and the bedroom (we had a private room). Out of habit, I closed both doors on my way in. The bathroom door had a deadbolt that I didn't bother locking because I was alone in the room.
After I was finished, I walked through the bathroom door, and then tried to open the second door. It was locked. I took out my room key, and it didn't work. That's right. They rented us a room with a door that locks automatically upon closing, but didn't give us the key.
At this point I had several options: 1) Yell for help (but we had yet to see anyone else staying at the hostel, and they would have had to hear me behind two doors); 2) Wait for Michelle to wonder why I hadn't shown up and come back to the hostel to look for me (although she didn't have a key to the room); 3) Break through the door a la Jack Bauer.
I have a few iron-clad rules in life, and one of the most important is this: If you are left with only one option which requires you to act like Jack Bauer, that is the option you must take, without exception. Perhaps more importantly, I knew I couldn't just wait for Michelle to come find me because she would have panicked. In a bad, bad way. Whenever she doesn't hear from me, she assumes I've been hit by a car or abducted by Al Qaeda. Considering that we were in a seedy neighborhood in a foreign country, she would probably have assembled a search party which would include the German police, the U.S. Embassy, Interpol, NASA, and Superman.
With that in mind, I leaned back and kicked the door right next to the door knob, just like I had seen in all the cop shows. I didn't even budge. It's my own fault; I was too cautious. With wounded pride, I let loose with a more serious second kick. This one made some cracks around the knob. Encouraged, I busted through with my final kick.
The door swung open.
The weirdness wasn't over yet; on my way to the laundromat, accidentally ran over a middle-aged woman's toes with my carry-on bag (she was wearing closed-toed shoes). I apologized, and then a second or two later she suddenly started jumping up and down and yelling in German. When I looked to see what on earth the commotion was about, her friend said something along the lines of "You ran over her foot!" (or at least that's what I deciphered with my high school German skills). I didn' t run over her toes very hard, and given the delayed reaction, I think they were hoping they could get the dumb American to pay for their dinner or something along those lines. No dice.
The next morning, when we checked out, I felt a duty to inform the hostel owner that I had jacked up his door.
"Just so you know," I said, "Because we didn't have a key to the door outside the bathroom, I got stuck in there."
"Really?" he said. "It shouldn't lock."
"Well, it did," I said. "So I had to...get it open myself."
"How did you do that?"
"I had to...force it open."
The Indian man looked confused for a second, and then it clicked. "Oooooh." Fortunately, we were never charged for any damage, which makes this man one of the last honest businessmen in Europe.
Anyway, here are some pictures of our Rhine river cruise. The Rhine has a ton of castles on it because it was the main thoroughfare in Europe during the middle ages, and any fool with a castle could charge a toll for safe passage. I've forgotten most of the names of these castles.
By the way, Michelle has told me that I can't post these pictures unless I inform you that it was very windy that day. Which it was.
The Frankfurt Temple. Yes, I'm wearing sneakers in that picture. We only packed a backpack and a carry-on apiece for this trip. I wasn't going to lug my dress shoes around.