By Rosanna Bauman
Editor's Note: Missed earlier installments of Rosanna's Europe adventures? Click here to read the installment before this.
On the bus headed back to Munich to (hopefully) meet my friends as they arrive from America. I relax in my bus seats after my high energy visit to Regensburg. I am amused to hear American songs playing over the PA system. I knew that American culture had pervaded most of the world but I didn’t realize how much until I attended the International Seminar for Rural Youth. Some of the participants wanted to sing a song together, but they were from four different continents: what song did we all know? After several false starts we discovered that we all knew a few American songs. Machteld, my classmate from the Netherlands, said that they even had some musicians who are rapping in Dutch. She said it sounds terrible…
I am possibly a bit too ditzy to be a responsible solo traveler. As I stepped off the bus at the train station, I hear a traveler behind me ask in English: “Is this your foto?” (So much for thinking that I didn’t look American). He was holding up my camera that I had left on the seat. I didn’t even recall that I had taken it from my bag! Leaving my camera would have been a terrible thing – a photographer on vacation without her camera is like a shopaholic in the mall without a purse.
We were assigned an ancient commuter train into Munchen. The “Alex” had a gap to step over and steep little steps up to the car, not a great thing when you have a backpack and two rolling suitcases. As I was struggling to heave and squeeze into the car, I bumped my canteen and it zipped right out of the side of my backpack and clattered down beside the tracks. Oh no! I had cleverly secured the canteen with carabiner clips should it ever decide to pop out of its pocket, but in my worry over train schedules in Regensburg, I had, for the first time, neglected to re-clip the carabiners! As most folks know I drink huge quantities of water. That water bottle is an important companion and leaving him behind was simply not an option. Loyalty is very important to my character and I wasn’t about to throw my one-liter bottle under the train! I positioned my suitcase on the train, then wriggled against the traffic flow back to the car. Still wearing my two backpacks fore and aft, I awkwardly bent down between the platform and the car, then stretched out my arm to snag the canteen. Ah ha! No friend left behind, " foto" or “wasser.”
Since neither of us had an international cell phone, I had called my cousin Maralee just before she left American soil and as I was departing from the college. I had told her I had planned to spend my day in Regensburg and promised them that I would be there to meet them in Munich as they stepped off the train. It was vital that we made this connection, but if the girls train or plane were late (as mine had been) there would be no way for either of us to communicate a change of timing or plans. Like me, this was their first time abroad and they knew even less of the German language than I, so if they had to decipher those German train schedules…Should I just hang around the train station all evening, running from track to track? Or should I go to the hostel and wait for them there? The thought was too grim so I just prayed that their travel plans would be smooth and not as fraught with problems as mine had been.
My train to Munchen was delayed by that track work. I could feel the clock ticking…My train was supposed to arrive a full half hour before the girls train from Frankfurt, but it soon became obvious that I would not be arriving before 15:30. Finally, the Munchen station! I dashed off the train, five minutes after the girls train from Frankfort was to have arrived. Please, please, let their train be late.But, no, three track s over I saw a long distance train idling. Oh dear. I promised those poor girls I would meet them as they disembarked; now they are probably worried about me. If they didn’t see me as they got off the train Itold them to meet me at the ticket kiosk. But the station is huge and crammed with people, how would they ever even find it? I scurry through the crowds, dragging my luggage behind me. And, there, with their backs turned, searching in the other direction, there are my three dear friends! Waiting just where I told them! A miracle, indeed. I breathed a prayer of thanks and rushed forward, shouting “Hey, girls!”.