Worse Things

September 1, 2012 Comments Off on Worse Things

Right now, I’m supposed to be at the foot of the Alps with my new hosts. Well, I’m not.

Here’s what happened.

I arrived at Stockholm Central Station early yesterday morning. I went to the ticket counter to make a reservation for the next available train to Copenhagen. I also needed to book a seat on an overnight train to Paris from Copenhagen.

The woman behind the ticket counter told me the overnight train I wanted was completely booked. She offered me an alternative route. I’d travel to Hamburg from Copenhagen. Once in Hamburg, I’d travel as far as Gottingen, where I’d board an overnight train to Paris.

The woman cautioned me that the connections were tight, but I went along with it anyway.

Hours later, while en route to Hamburg, I learned that the train would arrive at the station nearly twenty minutes late. This meant that I’d only have four, not eighteen, minutes to make the connecting train to Gottingen. The train slowly pulled into Hamburg’s train station. I stood as close to the door as I possibly could, watching the clock tick. Those four minutes whittled down to three minutes, then two. One minute left to transfer. Zero.

I headed straight for the ticket counter. A DB representative informed me that I hadn’t missed the connecting train. That one was twenty-minutes late. Then those twenty minutes became twenty-five minutes. Then thirty minutes. At the thirty-five minute mark, I decided that unless the train in Gottingen was delayed as well, I wasn’t going to make the overnight train.

I had a choice: wait for the connecting train and take my chances in a town I’d never heard of, or stay in Hamburg, one of the busiest cities in Germany, and see if I couldn’t find another way to get to Paris. I went back to the ticket counter and explained to the situation to another DB representation. She apologized for the huge inconvenience and arranged for me to spend the night in a nearby hotel free of charge and put me on another train to Paris via Frankfurt the next day.

So here I am in Paris. I travel to my next host family’s home tomorrow. I’m becoming accustomed to unpredictability. I’ve come to accept it as an essential component of travel. After all, no one remembers a trip that went exactly as planned. Or they do, just not very well.

I’ve also decided that there are worse things in life than having to spend an evening roaming the streets of Paris.

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