Monday, December 26, 2011

#6 Traveling by Train

There are many things one should do before they die, brush your teeth, sleep occasionally, be good to others, but traveling by rail through Europe should be added to that list.

This is our third trip (in three years) through Europe by rail.  Today's leg takes us from Berlin Germany to Krakow Poland via Warsaw, where we will change trains.

There are many advantages to traveling by train over plane - the two major ones for me are the comfort and the efficiency.  Trains in Europe seem to travel in almost clockwork fashion running mostly to the minute or two of schedule.

As past experience has shown however, occasionally things go and often will go, awry.

Our first trip in 2009 was with a party of 6;  teenagers, adults and a small child of 4 years old all included in our party.

In the planning I took over the responsibility of the train schedule with Aspergian precision (not to be confused with military precision which is less precise).

I had train connections, stopovers, transfers, platforms, tickets, reservations all under control, often checking daily on the Internet to see if any changes had been made by the railways to any of our connections.  I was also in charge of the accommodation, finding our way to and from hotels from the train stations.

It was all under control or so I thought.  How wrong I was.

My well versed plans didn't take days to unravel, it started from the very first city, Frankfurt.  We had safely navigated customs and the trip from the airport to the main train station where our hotel was located just a few short steps away. It was raining, our family was tired, we were jet lagged. 

But I couldn't find our hotel.  More to the point, I didn't know which direction it was in as there were so many departure gates from the train station.  My map suddenly seemed woefully inept. We walked in many directions that night, we passed many streets, we assailed many people to beg for directions.  Lesser people may have crumbled, we battled on.  We survived and eventually found our hotel more by luck than by anything else. 

Now we use google maps, we write directions down, we take taxis.  Mainly we take taxis.

There were other misdemeanors on this trip.  Namely I lost a backpack with our daily food supplies, train timetables and hotel information, left on a train.  My wife left a $1000 camera in a taxi in Paris .

These however are merely footnotes, the story of us trudging through the rain and sleet in Frankfurt is the tale my wife has never forgotten (she can't let it go!).  Like life itself,  things will and do go wrong on holidays no matter how well you plan.  Sometimes the memories (almost) make the mistakes worthwhile.  Especially if you can laugh about it later.

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