We had a short connection on United airlines in Chicago and then another short connection on the Deutsche Bahn (German train) in Mannheim. As the departure day for our Germany trip approached I tried to think positively and reassure myself that if we missed a connection it wouldn’t be the end of the world. No need to panic. As it turned out, I had mentally prepared myself for a different travel glitch than the one we experienced.
All went well in Chicago, as we arrived a few minutes early and our connecting gate was right next to our arrival gate. It was a long 8 hours overnight to cross the Atlantic. United treated us well with movies, dinner and breakfast so that helped pass the sleepless hours. I have no problem falling asleep in a car but, for some reason, I can’t sleep on airplanes.
Germany time is 8 hours ahead of New Mexico so when we landed in Frankfurt, sleep or no sleep, the day was well underway. It seemed an endless series of shuttles, gates and escalators to hustle our way through customs and baggage claim and finally to get to the train station. But there was no need to hurry since I had allowed us plenty of time when I made the train reservation to Zurich.
In fact, it was a bit too much time. We were quite bored with our hours long wait and more than relieved when it was finally time for our train. It was a 30 minute trip to Mannheim, where we would then have a short 6 minutes to get on the train going to Zurich. No sooner had we settled into our seats when I got a notice on my phone that our train from Mannheim was being rescheduled and would not be going to Zurich. Instead it would only go as far as Basel. So what would we do now?
God had it all figured out. A young man in the aisle across from us was involved in a long conversation in German with the conductor who was in the process of checking everyone’s tickets. I suspected that they might be discussing this latest piece of news and prayed that when the conductor got to our seats he would be able to converse in English and help us figure out what we should do. Not only was he helpful, but it turned out that Oliver, the young man he had just helped, was conversant in English, also. He was going to Zurich, too, and offered to take us under his wing once we got to Mannheim so we could figure out the best way to get to Zurich.
Oliver is a university student who lives in Zurich and was returning home from a trip to South America. He knew exactly what to do in Mannheim to get us a new itinerary. We will be about an hour and a half late arriving in Zurich but we are now comfortably settled in our seats with our minds at ease that there is plenty of time to make our connection from Basel to Zurich. The delays in our arrival time weren’t ones I had expected but I also hadn’t expected to have such a pleasurable encounter with a fellow traveler.
Getting through airport security in Albuquerque.