What happens when you find yourself traveling during the refugee crisis?
You have one hell of a travel day!
We had made plans to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law in Germany before we left the US. Had I known there was going to be a crisis, I would have just bought plane tickets and been done with it, but there was no way of knowing anything was going to happen.
Shortly after I bought our train tickets to Munich Syrian refugees made their way to Budapest. We were there when the Hungary police were holding them in the station, and we heard the crowd as they marched out of the city looking for refuge.
Austria and Germany were welcoming the refugees with open arms and provisions, so I didn’t think we were going to have a problem once we left to head west.
A couple of days before we were scheduled to leave the German government began discussing shutting their boarders. They had become overwhelmed with the amount of people coming in and couldn’t keep up.
I received an email the morning of our travel day stating that our train from Salzburg to Munich was cancelled and to talk to information once we got to the station. That was it!
No alternative route or new tickets were given.
All we could do was move forward as planned and see what happens. Salzburg isn’t the worst place to be stranded, right?
We waited over an hour for our first train to arrive in Budapest. This was a little unnerving since our connection time in Wien was only 10 minutes, but again….there wasn’t anything we could do about it.
Luckily our connecting train in Wien was also delayed, and we got off our train just in time to hop on the next one.
The rest of the trip to Salzburg was smooth. We got to see some of the beautiful Austrian countryside and were able to relax for a few hours before the madness started.
As soon as we got off the train in Salzburg, we booked it to the information desk to find a fairly long cue of travelers in the same situation as us.
I was told to take 2 buses to another station across the boarder. From there, we could buy new tickets to Munich, so Alan and I along with a herd of other travelers started making our way across town.
The first bus was fine, but the second bus (and the only bus going to the other train station) took over an hour to arrive. More and more travelers kept showing up from the Salzburg station looking for a way into Germany.
By the time the bus showed up, there were so many people that all of us couldn’t fit. I’m not going to lie…..I was a little bit pushy trying to get on the bus. No way was I going to wait another hour for the next one.
The journey across town was long. People were getting off work, and every vehicle, along with our bus, had to be stopped before being allowed to cross the boarder. We all had to flash our passports to the officers before being allowed to continue.
The train station was a good 15-20 minute walk from the bus station, but at least it was a straight shot.
FINALLY we had new train tickets and were on our way to Munich!
I wish I could say the obstacles stopped there, but sadly they did not.
We had originally bought bus tickets from Munich to Stuttgart where we would meet my sister and brother-in-law, but our departure time had long passed.
So we bought yet another set of train tickets.
Our new train was scheduled to leave in 10 minutes. We walked the tracks searching for the right train, but didn’t see any that said Stuttgart.
I approached one of the service men to ask where our track was, and he explained we had to make a transfer in Uln. Since our 10 minutes were almost up, we took his directions and jumped on the train just before it left.
Relief……..or so I thought.
I began talking to a girl about our trip only to find out there aren’t any trains leaving to Stuttgart at our supposed connecting station until 4am. That means we would be stuck in Uln for 6 hours!
I could have cried at that point. We had been through it all that day, and all I wanted to do was lay in a comfortable bed and get some sleep.
Well as usual there was nothing we could do, so we discussed what our options were. Guess we can find a bench somewhere and take turns sleeping.
As we were leaving the train, we saw a sign for the speed train that said Stuttgart for it’s next stop….and it was 5 minutes late. We were just in time to catch it!
Now I could have cried from happiness. The end was in sight, and I would be in a bed soon.
We got to our hotel in Stuttgart expecting to see my sister and in-law waiting for us in the lobby. I didn’t have wifi all day and hadn’t been able to message her and let her know what was going on. We were supposed to be there by 7:30 and it was almost 1am now. I just knew she would be worried.
But there was no one waiting for us. Maybe they got tired and went to sleep?
I mixed up the days and actually got us there a day early, so my sister was still enjoying her time in Paris and not even thinking about us being late.
At least we were at the hotel, and they had an available room for us.
First thing I did was fall onto the bed. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt something so soft and comfortable.
We survived the day and remarkably didn’t break up in the process. Guess that’s a sign of a good relationship.
September 18, 2015 will go down in history as one of my worst travel days, but at least I can laugh about it now.