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Planes, Trains, And Automobiles

, , , | Hopeless | August 15, 2016

(It’s my first trip abroad since high school, I’m doing it all alone, and I’ve never been on a plane before. My schedule is really tight, because I need to fly to Berlin, find my way through Berlin to a train station, and make my way to Göttingen, where I should take yet another train to Stuttgart, so I’m kind of freaked out. I arrive at the airport early only to find it already packed, and I freak out even more because I don’t know if I’m standing in the correct line, so I ask a random passenger – an older lady next to me.)

Me: “Excuse me, sorry if this is a dumb question, but is this the check-in for [Flight] to Berlin?”

Older Lady: “Yes, this is it. They should call it again in a couple of minutes.”

Me: “Thanks! Sorry, I know it’s dumb to waste your time like this, but it’s my first flight ever…”

Older Lady: “Don’t worry about it. There’s a first time for everything, and it’s all right to be nervous and excited. I’m excited myself. I’m visiting my daughter, because I just became a granny!”

Me: “That is so awesome! Congratulations!”

(I spend the whole time waiting and then flying with the kind lady. She tells me about her daughter and how excited she is to meet her granddaughter for the first time. We land in Berlin, and she wishes me well on my way off. After some meaningless circling with all my luggage in tow – please note that I have a heavy suitcase and a heavy travel case with my laptop and my camera in it – I find the S-Bahn station and even manage to buy the correct ticket. I find the train and just as I’m boarding it, I see a tiny inscription on the ticket: Please validate. There are no validating machines on the train that I can see, so I randomly ask the family in the first couple of seats.)

Me: *in German* “Excuse me, do you know where I can validate this thing?”

Son: *in broken German* “Sorry… do… you… English?”

Me: *in English* “Yes, I do! Do you know where I can validate my ticket?”

Mother: “Yes, dear, look at the platform. It’s right over there at the end!”

(My heart sinks; the tiny red validating machine is way too far away for me to go there with my luggage and return before the train leaves.)

Me: “Thanks, and excuse me again… but please watch this for a second.”

(I leave all my bags and dash to the validator and back in under a minute.)

Father: “Oh, wow, you should be in the Olympics! Where are you headed?”

Me: “Thanks for watching my bags! I need to get to the central station.”

Father: “Oh, you’ve been here before?”

Me: “Never, actually. I don’t really know where I am.” *also note that I don’t have a smartphone at this point, so Google maps is out of the question*

Mother: “We have a map here. You can sit with us if you want to.”

Me: “Thanks, I gladly will!”

Father: “We just flew in from [Country #1], and it’s our first time here as well!”

Me: “Oh, wow. We were on the same flight. I am from [Country #2].”

Mother: “Awesome! We have a house in [Town] and we love it!”

Me: “It’s a really great town, as far as I know! I’m from [Famous Town on the sea.]”

Son: “Cool! We go there really often in the summer. For the beach, you know…”

Me: “This is a very happy coincidence!”

(We spend the train ride (until I have to get off) happily chatting about my home town and the town where they have a house and how nice their neighbours are. In the end they also wish me well off and invite me for tea whenever I’m near their house. I nearly break down in the next train because it’s full and chaotic and there’s not enough space so I have to sit on my suitcase. Finally I get off at this huge train station, after some more circling I get my ticket and even find my platform, where I’m horrified to find a train already boarding, although there are more than 20 minutes until my train comes. I ask the nearest guy for help.)

Me: “Hey there, sorry to disturb you; I need to board a train to Hanover here, and I’m not sure if this is it.”

Guy: “Hi, no problem, only I don’t know which train this is. Wait a second.”

(The guy disappears and reappears with a huge grin.)

Guy: “Relax. This goes all the way down to Munich. Your train should be in after it. If you’re not sure, find these tiny LED screens on the side or ask one of the staff, they will help you.”

Me: “Thank you so much! It’s stupid, but where I’m from it’s a lot more… cold-war-style, let’s call it that.”

Guy: “Hahaha, why?”

Me: “Because most of the trains are made in 1968…”

Guy: “Oh, that is tough. Where are you from?”

Me: “I’m from [Country #2].”

Guy: “Oh I haven’t been to [Country #2] yet, but definitely on my list. I’m a backpacker and I come from Taiwan.”

Me: “Oh, man, that is so far away. Kudos for being so brave and backpacking, I couldn’t do it.”

Guy: “Well, you’re kind of doing it now.”

Me: “Oh, no. Once I get to Stuttgart where my friend lives, it’s Irish bars and museums and street photography. I’m spoiled, or at least I want to be spoiled on this trip.”

Guy: “Haha, everybody’s got their thing, and yours sounds cool. Okay, I have to go now, but have a great trip and an awesome time!”

Me: “Thanks!”

(Not only that, but the train staff offered me coffee and sweets and even to put my luggage up, which I kindly refused, because then I couldn’t get it down on my own. I’ll never forget this, because I’ve never had so many different people being nice to me in a single day.)

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