August 2012


Bleh… Travel Headaches… No, not the kind you’re thinking of.


Lorenzkirche, one of many pretty churches in Nürnberg.

Saturday I headed south from Berlin to Nürnberg, something close to 4 solid hours on the train. Luckily I managed to get two seats to myself.

Unluckily, as I was checking into my hotel, I realized that I had a massive, massive headache, and no Tylenol on hand.

At that point I was about 50% intelligent: I went to the Bahnhof Apotheke, where I paid Bahnhof pricing for a box of 20 paracetamol tablets—acetaminophen. For the price I paid in Germany, had I been at an American drug store, I could have gotten 100 of the buggers. The lady behind the cash register was kind enough to warn me to take no more than 6 in any given 24 hour period.

It was at that point that I was stupid: I’m actually on my way to Augsburg for an event on Monday and Tuesday, and I’d decided to make a “weekend” of it by stopping somewhere between Berlin and Augsburg to enjoy local scenery.

My two choices came down to Jena or Nürnberg, with Jena being eliminated because the people I really wanted to see were inconveniently out of town this weekend.

Nürnberg is not actually a bad choice because it’s home to Lederer Bier and the Lederer Kultur Brauerei, which is where I wanted to have lunch – despite my horrible headache.

So I went – which is why I say I was about 50% intelligent: at least I realized I needed the paracetamol, even though I didn’t take it.

Lederer Kultur Brauerei

Best beer on the planet. Too bad I had a massive headache.

Instead I foolishly went to the biergarten, ate lunch and drank about 20% of a beer.

Sitting at the beer garden, I felt terrible – I actually felt like I had a fever, although, in retrospect, I accidentally sat in a sliver of sunlight. I just did not want to be there, or anywhere, to be honest.

House Identifying Art

Early to bed, early to rise: I snapped this Sunday morning after getting over my headache and getting way too much sleep.

So I headed back to my hotel, detouring by way of a grocery store in order to pick up a couple bottles of Lederer Bier. Back at the hotel, I took a pill and immediately fell asleep for a two-hour nap. After my nap, I ate a quick meal at the nearby train station, wandered through a tiny, tiny fragment of historic city center Nürnberg, before returning to my hotel and taking another pill and another nap, waking up just past midnight.

Strangely I can remember two other instances of having headaches like this while traveling: once was as I got to Bloomington, after a transatlantic flight. I’d parked the car and walked into the hotel, only to realize as I was standing at the check-in desk that I had a headache. The hotel sold me two Tylenol in a package that made my pills here look inexpensive – had the clerk had actually put the charge on my room bill, but they didn’t. I think the clerk took pity on me. I went directly to bed after getting into my room.

The other time was after a train ride from Weimar to Halle – I got off the train feeling fine, walked to my hotel, and arrived at the hotel with a minor headache. That time I was an idiot – I did not buy drugs – spending a few hours wandering around Halle before giving into the now massive headache and going back to the hotel where I took a long nap, waking up to find my only decent food option at the train station was a döner shop that was on the verge of closing for the night.

It’s a shame that my time in Nürnberg was wasted with a headache, as it is a charming city – or at least it was on my previous visits – and I was really looking forward to wandering its streets.

5 comments to Bleh… Travel Headaches… No, not the kind you’re thinking of.

  • I hate something like that, hope you feel better already.

  • Prashanth

    so..this happened after a train ride and previously after a flight and another train ride. Doubt on the AC systems in those places? If the other two headaches we also during summer, I would strongly suspect your exposure to AC during travel.

    I know that ICE trains give me heavy headaches while travelling, especially during Winters. Of course, the reason for my headaches could also be too much silence, or just DB food which I sometimes forget not to eat.

  • I always get headaches on ICE trains over long distances. Traveling to Munich or Nürnberg doesn’t do it; that’s only about an hour. Anything more than two or three hours of ICE travel and I get a headsplitter though.

    I think I figured out why this weekend though, while I was on my way to Bochum- it’s the constant pressure shifts. I have the same type of headache when a weather front pushes through and the atmospheric pressure changes drastically. Between the tunnels and the subtle elevation changes, an ICE voyage simulates that condition over and over and over again.

    My standard response to that is to take something when I reach my destination and try to snag a nap before heading back out into the city. Sometimes this works, but sometimes it fails spectacularly.

    I hope you’re feeling better.

  • koko

    🙁 I was so excited for your trip. Sad that it was plagued with a monster headache. But you got your beer! 🙂 love you AML, hope you’re feeling better and didn’t come down with worse as your travels continue

  • Martin – Thanks – I started feeling better in the evening, and by 5:30 Sunday morning I felt great. And awake!

    Prashanth – Maybe the AC systems were dirty? I’m, generally speaking, fine with AC, and I have to confess that I felt much better in my Nürnberg hotel room, once I cranked the AC.

    Steven – I’m feeling great — even after a 7 hour ICE train ride yesterday (Tuesday) — I wonder about the pressure explanation. What puzzles me is that I’ve never felt the headache while on the train (or in the car, after the flight), it was after I stood at the hotel desk, or wandered briefly, that the headache really hit home.

    Koko – I felt great Sunday — and I started feeling better Saturday evening. My dinner Saturday, though, was McDonald’s — I wanted something simple, safe, and fast. And it was close to my hotel, in the train station.