Lost in Translation
Well, this is interesting. When I booked my train trip from Dresden to London - with connections in Hanover, Cologne, and Brussels - I knew it was complicated but I didn’t think I would run into any major problems. After all, I had left three hours of buffer time for my transfer in Brussels.
But alas, nothing went as planned.
My uncle dropped me off at the Central station in Dresden - my train was due to leave from the first track, right next to the parking lot. Perfect. We said our goodbyes and I sauntered up the stairs to the track, where I was greeted by one of the staff who kindly told be that the route had been rescheduled for today. I’d have to go to the Neustadt station instead. But no worry, I just had to go to Track 19, catch the next train, and get off two stops later. Then I should still have time to catch the train to Hanover.
Fine enough. I jumped through the required hoops and got going on the (re)scheduled train due west. We left about a half-hour later than I had originally expected. But at least I was headed in the right direction.
The train stopped in Leipzig, and everyone got off. I was the only one left on the train, naively thinking it would carry me on to Hanover, when I realized the destination had been changed to Dresden. It was going back the same way it came.
Uh oh. I hastily gathered by things and ran to the information counter. The lady there looked over my itinerary, printed a new one, and told me to get on Track 18. That train would take me to Hanover. I would now arrive in Brussels with two hours wiggle room. Still not bad.
The train was an intercity route, not the express that I was supposed to take, which means we stopped in every little rinky-dink city from Leipzig to Hanover. There was also a 25 minute delay along the way, and I knew I wouldn’t make my connection in Hanover. So I asked one of the train crew members what I should do. They said not to worry, the train would continue on to Cologne anyway so I could just stay on it.
I slept most of the rest of the way to Cologne, and arrived at the station at 4:45. The train for Brussels had left at 4:42. Drat. And I was so excited to get to a place where I actually understand the language, too. Oh well. Up to the information counter once again I went, expecting that the next train would be in an hour. Just my luck, the next train was two hours away and wouldn’t arrive in Brussels until 8:32 - a full three minutes after the Eurostar would have already left for London.
Up until this point, I was fairly sure that I would still make all my connections. But I now realized my trip was going to have to be drastically reorganized. The train I was supposed to take to London was the last one of the day.
I spent 10 minutes on hold with Eurostar, praying that my phone credit wouldn’t run out. I finally got a hold of a sales rep, who said he could get me on the first train tomorrow morning. Well, at least it’s the next best option. I told him that would be great, and then - click - the line went dead. My phone buzzed cheerily. “Crédit épuisé!”, it declared.
OK. So now where does that leave me? I’ve got 45 minutes until my train leaves from Cologne. Once I’m in Brussels, I’ll actually be able to communicate and get a hostel for the night or something, after securing my spot on tomorrow morning’s train. That’s my plan, anyway.
I’ve got 90 euros to my name. Let’s see how well I do.
To be continued …Sam Nabi