Although most people in the world are very familiar with travel by train and use it for their daily commutes, that is one mode of transportation with which I have had little experience – until recently.
In the fall of 2015 my aunt and I travelled to Germany where trains are the most common means of getting from one town to another. We stayed in a small town about 40 kilometres out of Munich, so in order to tour the area we had to learn the system quickly. Our first hurdle was deciphering the instructions on the automated ticket kiosk. Of course, directions were printed in German, and although there was an English section, it was difficult to find and see with the bright sunlight bouncing off the screen. Finally two young Israeli fellows showed us how it was done, so we were on our way.
After a few days of travelling back and forth, I was confident I had the process figured out and was ready to tackle the next leg of our trip which was from Munich to Cochem. I was never more wrong!
After getting into Munich we boarded another train without any difficulty and enjoyed a comfortable and speedy ride to Koblentz where we disembarked to catch the third of four trains needed to get to our final destination. Here we encountered our next hurdle, which as the saying goes, was where our plans were almost derailed.
Once again I found myself trying to comprehend directions in another language. After staring at the huge board for several minutes, I was quite certain that platform two was where we needed to be. However, to be absolutely certain we decided to ask two off-duty train personnel for instructions. They seem puzzled but then told us (in very broken English) to go to “2B”.
So off we trudged down the long platform dragging our luggage along. But after searching up and down, there was no such stop to be found. Back to another board I went and this time a fellow who spoke English asked if I needed help. I was so glad for his assistance! He pointed us to another spot and told us the train was five minutes late.
There we waited and sure enough, five minutes later a train sped into the station, but whizzed right by us and stopped way up from us at platform two where we had originally stood. My aunt looked at me and said, “That can’t be our train.”
But I had a nagging feeling that it could be, so I ran to check it out. As I neared the last car, I could see that the number on it matched the one on our tickets.
“It’s our train! Hurry!” I yelled at her.
I no sooner got those words out of my mouth when bells starting to sound, warning passengers that the doors were about to close. I frantically beckoned her to run (which thankfully she was able to do) and quickly threw on my large suitcase, and then hers. (It’s amazing how strong one becomes when the adrenaline is pumping.) I jumped on board and shouted at her to get on! A moment after she did so, the doors slammed shut. We had made it!
After relating this story to a friend, she said, “Wow! Missing that train would have been bad.”
I responded, “Missing our train wouldn’t have been as bad as having all your luggage and yourself on board, but leaving your aunt on the platform as the train pulled out. Now that would have been bad!”
*Stay tuned for the rest of the story.