Thursday, June 16, 2016

THOUGHTS WHILE TRAVELING-INTO EVERY LIFE SOME RAIN MUST FALL

While it certainly is true that into every life some rain must fall, by this point in the trip, we are beginning to get moldy and mushrooms are sprouting from our ears.  One day of sunshine in Amsterdam is quickly followed by rain and more rain.  The plan for our final day was a Wetland Tour by canoe around the swamps and marshes surrounding the city.  Since the city itself had become a Wetland with torrential downpours, the tour was cancelled by the canoe company.  Flexibility becomes the name of the game in the early stages of our tour.



Part of the group decides to visit the museum of the Great European Art Masters and the rest of us go on a quest to find luggage.  Our trip organizer had advised us all to buy Rick Steve's backpacks.  This is NOT a good backpack--I have a good backpack--an Osprey at home--and this does not begin to qualify as a good backpack.  End of rant--live and learn.  So since I recently bought a good roller bag, I went in  search of an inexpensive one for the remainder of the trip.  BINGO--SCORE!  So for the next 2 1/2 weeks, I will be pulling this baby across cobblestone streets while also carrying my backpack and a bag full of travel documentation.  




We all reassemble late afternoon to catch our train to the next destination, St. Goar, Germany.  One of the ways we are getting around in Europe is via a five day Euro Rail pass.  Word to the travelers---it is a little intimidating to figure out the platform and the location of the appropriate car-seat for those of us unfamiliar with the rail system from the US.   There is NO nice conductor standing by each car door to assist you--you are pretty much on your own.   We finally had it down to a fine science by the fourth trip.  AND be warned--the train waits on NO MAN--you had better be on board before the scheduled departure time.  The scramble to find the platform--find the car---find the seat, while dragging all our luggage strongly resembles the clown parade at the circus on our first day of rail travel.



We quickly discover though English is spoken widely in The Netherlands, once we cross the German border---English disappears.  Perhaps it is slightly presumptuous to think English should be spoken everywhere.  My ploy to speak louder and slower while repeating the same thing over and over does nothing to aide in translation.  

 This trip consisted of three different trains.    Our first change was confusing so we go to the station agent to get some direction to the correct platform.  We have the misfortune to find the only agent in Europe who does not know what they are talking about.  In a vain attempt to follow her assurance  that this train will take us all the way to St. Goar, we sit on the train at final stop of the day--since we clearly are NOT in St. Goar.  We get a clear indication we must get off when the conductress stands behind our seats with a glare in her eyes and her hands behind her back.



 It is late---and we are confused and not sure about the last step of the journey.  I am wondering if we are going to be sleeping on the benches in the station and paying .50 Euro's for every bathroom break--IF they will allow that!  Finally we find this really kind couple on the platform---our trip was filled with helpful people.  They are an Afghanistan couple with a baby headed the same way we are.  Thankfully he speaks English!   He keeps telling us this is the train to St. Goar--but we are not convinced.  FINALLY---he tells us---THIS is the LAST train to St. Goar--you should get on board!  OH---OK---we get it!  


  

Arriving in St Goar after eleven p.m., the station is locked tighter than Dick's hatband with not one soul in sight.  We wearily march off the only feasible way in search of our hotel.  We luck upon the local party to your drop stag trio who are being ushered out of the pub not far from the station.  They give us directions--but spoil the kindness by one of the trio making off color comments to all the blondes in the group.  Thankful for my once again dark hair and a man in our group!  



Turns out we were never lost---only doing a great deal of wandering around while always pointed in the right direction.  When the manager opens the door to our boutique hotel---Rhein - the trip organizer is forgiven the Rick Steve's bag debacle!  We finally fall into bed after midnight, thankful for safe travels and looking forward to the next day's adventure.  


Will they not go astray who devise evil? But kindness and truth will be to those who devise good.
Proverbs 14:22

8 comments:

  1. I thought you said you did not visit the UK. The description of train travels you mention is just like in the UK. When I commuted daily to London my train often arrived at different platforms. Sometimes the loudspeaker would say "Train arriving at Platform 3"; a quick run over the bridge. When we got there (imagine hundreds of commuters rushing over the bridge all at once), the train arrived at another platform and we had to run back again.

    Rarely we had any conductors or platform assistants. And when there were any, they had little or no idea which train goes where. Trains often ran late. The railway company solved this by withdrawing all train timetables and replacing them with calendars. "The train on Platform 2 will get there on Wednesday!" "The train arriving on platforms 1, 2 and 3 is coming in sideways!" Great fun.

    I'm enjoying your trip through Europe, Lulu. Thanx for your stories. I note you've already taken on an English trait. Over here, when we meet a foreigner who does not speak English, we always talk very slowly and very loudly so we can be heard in his country of origin and someone over there would translate for him.

    God bless.

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    1. And one more thing ...

      I remember once I got on a train and when it was speeding I found out it does not stop at my required destination. There were no conductors in sight. So I walked up to the train driver. He was very understanding. He said when he gets to my station he will slow down the train a little. He will open the door and hold me tight by my jacket whilst hanging out of the door. If I moved my legs backwards and forwards fast as they do in cartoons he will lower me gently onto the platform and let me go. That way I will have got off at my destination.

      When we arrived at my stop he did as described and lowered me gently as we approached the start of the platform. As I hit ground I continued running as per the momentum of the train. As the train drew away gently from me ... at the last carriage of the train ... the conductor opens his door and grabs me back in again. "I'm glad I caught you" he said, "otherwise you would have missed the train. It does not stop here you know!"

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    2. I am glad to know, I think, it is not a conspiracy against Americans, Victor! It made for many a laugh !
      Blessings, Friend!

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  2. THAT is a great story , Victor-I laughed out loud!

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  3. Lol, Victor...my sons gal pal is in Germany (she has duel citizenship)---she is spending the summer with her family over there...anyways, she pretty much told him the same thing. And the time difference is killing both of them, wink.

    I'm enjoying your trip...thank you for the smiles.

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    1. The time difference----OH YES---what time IS IT at home?? The trains---while wonderful---are quite intimidating!
      Blessings, My Friend!

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  4. My, Lulu ... you are so incredibly brave ... I travel vicariously through you!

    Welcome back!

    ;-}

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    1. There may be a fine line between brave and crazy, My Friend- LOL!
      Blessings !

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Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!