Traveling around Europe these past few weeks has been quite an adventure. As many of you may have already heard or read about, there have been many close calls when it comes to making trains and busses here. These close calls have actually been some of my favorite moments throughout the entire experience. The high stress moments actually helped our group bond with each other and see how we work under pressure. I have made a list of the top ten closest calls our group had during our three and a half weeks in Europe. Enjoy!
10. Missing my flight, actually missing the train to San Gimmiano, Cole not making it onto the Munich subway
So we actually missed these things. I missed my connecting flight to Berlin from Munich after my flight got delayed in Denver. Luckily I was easily able to get on the next plane out and it was not a problem. On our free day in Florence a group of us went to San Gimmiano, Tuscany, but unfortunately arrived an hour later than we had planned because we missed our first train. I will never forget running through the streets of Florence frantically trying to get to the station. Cole couldn’t make it onto one of the subways in Munich because the train doors show no mercy once they start closing.
9. Trying to squeeze onto the bus back to the train station from San Gimignano
During our time in Florence we got one free day to travel to another city nearby. The group of nine of us who chose to go to San Gimignano on during our free day in Florence loved exploring the Tuscan country side. I decided to take the initiative for getting our group there that day and figured out the train and bus schedule with some help from Dr. P and my group (to get to San Gimignano you have to take an hour long train and a twenty minute bus) We made it there right at lunch time and got to enjoy a few hours walking around the beautiful Tuscan town. The bus schedule that day was weird because it was a Saturday so busses back to the Train station were only coming every two hours. At the end of the day we got to the bus stop, not knowing that, and stood around for fifteen minutes until we realized we needed to buy another ticket. We all crossed the street for a couple minutes to buy our bus tickets. When we got back a fairly long line had formed to get on the bus. We all just hopped in the middle of the line (not really even realizing there was one) but were quickly confronted by an angry Italian woman who told us to go to the back of the line. This woman then proceeded to call out every single person who tried to cut her in line for the next fifteen minutes. When the bus came it was chaos. I did not think we were going to make the bus for a moment, but the nine of us got the last seats on the bus and Davis and Josh even gave up their seats to two other women. The angry Italian woman ended up getting on the same train car back to Florence as us and actually apologized for sending us to the back of the line and said “now we are friends” as we got on the train. Although we wouldn’t have minded staying for two more hours, we had to be back in time for dinner. So, close call.
8. Running to the train from the Munich soccer arena
On the last night in Munich, Dr. P took us on a night adventure to Allianz Arena, the World Cup stadium in Munich. It was a great bonding night for us as a group as we sang and danced our way to and from the arena. We made up a great song about bratwursts, dog piled in front of the stadium, and held hands in a circle as we walked. We were taking our sweet time admiring the red lit up arena for a long time before we decided to walk back to the train to head back to the hotel. About half way back to the train, after we had finished making up the bratwurst song, Dr. P calmly says that the train is leaving in four minutes. We then proceed to sprint up hill to try and make it to the train before it left the station. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal if we had missed the train because there would be another one coming eventually, but late at night the next one might not be for another thirty or forty minutes. Anyway, we are running to the train and it is not a short run. After running for about three minutes I hear Dr. P right behind me say “I don’t think I’m going to make it” and that’s pretty much when I stopped running. So then we all just walked the rest of the way (at this point we weren’t far at all). When we turned the corner we saw that the train was still there! So we all quickly walked down to the train and Dr. P slipped in right as the doors were closing.
7. Kate getting shut in the train doors, Chandler prying them open
Preface: the Munich U Bon (the local subway) is not something to mess with. Once the doors start to close you are either on or off the train and the doors are not going to reopen. Hence how Cole got left behind because he didn’t get on the train before the doors started to shut and he couldn’t get them back open.
Anyway, during the last full day of Munich on our way off the U Bon, the doors started to close right on sweet Kate. Kate was on the verge of being squished between the quickly shutting doors when Chandler came up behind her and pried the train doors back open to let everyone else off and save Kate from the U Bon. It was truly a heroic moment for Chandler. Close call there.
6. The seven minute layover between the trains to Cinque Terre
The travel day from Interloken to Cinque Terre consisted of three different trains. Dr. P warned us at the beginning of the day that we had a very short seven layover before our last train. Although we were a little nervous for that, (spoiler alert) at this point we were close call professionals. We started getting ready to get off the train ten minutes before arriving, taking our bags down and lining up. The train was supposed to arrive at 2:58 and the next train was leaving at 3:05. At 2:55 the train stopped in a tunnel just before the station. The train stayed still in the tunnel until 3:00. Finally it began to move and I had lost almost all hope that we would make our next train. We pulled up to the station and our next train was thankfully just one track over on the same platform. Half the group quickly got off the train and ran onto the other train, but my half of the group’s door wasn’t opening to get off the train. I started to panic for a moment as everyone else was getting on the other train and some of us were still on the old train. But we moved down to the next train cart and used that for to get off and we all made it onto the finally train to Cinque Terre!
5. Running to catch the bus down the hill from the castles
After a great day visiting two castles and hiking up the surrounding hills of Germany, we decided it was time to leave. As usual we casually started the long walk down the mountain, not sauntering but definitely not in an kind of a hurry. Dr. P ran ahead of us almost a quarter of the way down and bought us all the best donuts I’ve ever had in my life. We all ate our donuts while walking down the hill a little bit quicker than before, sensing from Dr. P that we are in a slight hurry, but nothing seemed too urgent yet. Then about half way down we hear the command that we need to run to be able to make the bus. We then proceeded to sprint down the mountain for almost a mile in hopes of making the bus (which was essential in order for us to make our train back to Munich). After what seemed like forever of running, we finally made it and squeezed our way onto the crowded bus.
4. Getting off the night train in Munich
More details concerning the start to the night train are coming soon, but getting off the night train had its struggles as well. My room woke up approximately an hour or forty-five minutes before arriving, or so we thought, and ate the breakfast served to us casually in bed. We asked the attended on our cart multiple times what time the train was arriving and she kept saying thirty more minutes. Knowing that was plenty of time we decided to get an early start on getting our bags down and ready to go. Thank goodness we did because about ten minutes later the train starts to slow down and we are approaching our station. Jacey and Kate were rock stars and got all the bags down like a well oiled machine and we were ready to get off with minutes to spare. Another room actually didn’t wake up and so they had even less time to get there stuff together and get off but we all made it!
3. Kate inserting her elbow into the train doors as Jacey is about to be left behind
The same day Kate almost got crushed by the Munich U Bon doors, another close call happened but this time Kate was the hero. On one of the trains that day we waited on the platform for a train to arrive and then all casually sauntered on when it came. Almost all of us are on the train when the doors start beeping. Everyone hurries the rest of the way on when suddenly we see that Jacey is still trying to get on the train. The rest of this moment went in slow motion as we saw the train doors closing and Jacey being squeezed out. When the doors close a little over halfway Jacey just takes a step back and looks at us knowing she didn’t make the train. Out of no where, with the doors inches from shutting, Kate appears from the pack and jams her elbow in between the rapidly closing doors and pries them back open with her whole body for Jacey to get on. We laughed, we almost cried, and we celebrated the rest of the way back and applauded Kate for saving Jacey. I will never forget the sight of Kate completely throwing herself between the evil Munich train doors to save her friend.
2. Making the train to Hannover (the first stop to Munich)
Once we finished dinner our last night in Berlin, Dr. P told us that we had forty minutes to get from the restaurant to the hostel (about a twenty minute walk) and then to the train station to make our train (about a 10-15 minute walk). We all booked it to the hostel to get all our bags and then again booked it to the train station. I was so impressed by our groups ability to move under pressure and get the job done that we needed to do, a common theme with trains and travel this entire experience. Although we made it to the station with time to spare, an unseen mistake had happened. The 2016 train reservation had been printed instead of the 2017 reservation. After checking the departure board, Dr. P came up to our group and said “we might have four minutes to get to our train”. We then take off sprinting through the station to find our platform and get on the train. We make it to the platform and people start to get on but there are too many of us so half of us move to the next door down to board from there. As I leave the first line to move to the other door the train doors start beeping. I knew that could not be a good sign. I start to here the doors closing on the other carts and when I get to the second line the doors start to close and Andrea, who is right between them, forces them open and dives the rest of the way in. The rest of us throw ourselves and our bags on the train and barely make it all the way on. I have never felt so panicked in my life until the final close call…
1. Making the night train to Munich
And finally, the closest call of the entire trip: the night train to Munich. I think Lance explained it all best in his own blog post about the event. I am still shocked to this day that we all made it on the train.
Miracles truly do happen because there is no way we all should have made the night train, or many of these other close calls, yet somehow we did. I think it’s just the CR magic. Throughout our time in Europe I learned so much about trains and how to successfully navigate our way from city to city. I loved all the close calls and I can’t wait for hopefully more in the future. Till next time Europe!