Monday, July 28, 2014

Wait a minute…where’s our bus?

On Saturday morning, I waved good-bye to my parents and watched as they began their journey back to the United States. I feel so incredibly blessed that they were able to come for a visit. Even the little things like sharing a meal together, tasting new ice cream flavors at the local Eiscafé, helping Mom learn new German words, climbing mountains with Dad, or showing my parents around the campus at BFA have left so many special memories of our time together.

While my parents and I had an overall fantastic time of traveling together, we also had a few misadventures. One of our craziest adventures occurred during our trip to Munich. Wanting to save money, I searched around online and found an awesome deal for bus tickets for only 14 Euros a person. I had actually traveled on this same bus back in October when some of my roommates and I visited Munich for Oktoberfest.

Excited about the great deal, we packed our bags and boarded the train to Freiburg where we would then catch our bus to Munich. Besides the noise from a group of rowdy teenage boys who decided to choose their seats directly behind us, the bus ride was pretty comfortable. We had a table in between four seats and were able to look out the bus window and enjoy the German scenery.

We were nearing the midway point of our journey, a little town called Friedrichshafen nestled near the Bodensee. In October, we had had time to get out at the bus station, stretch our legs, grab a bite to eat, and use the restroom. I, being rather drowsy from watching a World Cup game the night before, was starting to doze off. A long stream of German announcements went completely unnoticed by my mother and I (the only two partial German speakers in our family) and my dad, awake but not comprehending, assumed that Mom or I had gotten the gist of whatever the bus driver was trying to communicate.

I woke up as the bus was pulling into the station at Friedrichshafen. Remembering the trip from October, I explained to my family that we would have about 15 minutes to use the restroom or get a snack. Leaving most of our belongings behind, the three of us exited the bus to take a quick break. Although it was somewhat heavy to carry, I decided that just to be safe, I should take my backpack.

We were only gone for about seven minutes. The three of us had walked around to the back of the bus station to find the restroom. Well, as we soon discovered, seven minutes was all it took to get left behind in Friedrichshafen. At first, we didn’t believe it. The bus was probably just refueling somewhere. I tried desperately to reassure my mother (and myself), “he’ll be back, don’t worry, the bus just went to get gas or something.” After about 15 minutes, I wasn’t so sure…and after 25 minutes, I knew we must have been left behind. Being left would have been bad enough, but to add to our stress was the fact that our three suitcases, my dad’s laptop, my dad’s camera, our lunch box, and my mom’s favorite hat were on their way to Munich without us.

Thankfully, we had my backpack—a bag which contained my wallet, passport, laptop, German cell phone, and the bus tickets. Seeking help in the lobby of a local hotel, we explained our situation and showed them the phone number of the bus station (which just happened to be printed on the tickets). Since my German is still pretty mediocre, the receptionist kindly offered to call the bus company for us. After a lengthy German conversation, we were told that they were working on the situation and that they would call back on my cell phone when they had more information. So there we were, trapped in a rainy German town with no bus, no luggage, and anxiously awaiting a phone call (which as far as I knew might be entirely in German).

I nearly jumped from my seat when my cell phone started to ring. “Hallo?” I spoke somewhat hesitantly. Much to my relief, the speaker answered in English. He explained that there was another bus coming in two hours and that he would email me complimentary tickets to ride that bus to Munich. “Wonderful!” I responded, “And what about our luggage?” The man explained that regretfully, he was unable to get into contact with the bus driver, but he would figure out a way for us to retrieve our belongings. I then went through the lengthy process of describing all the luggage in great detail, even including the brands, colors, and sizes.

After a desperate search for internet and the quick download of the new bus tickets, we were ready to board the second bus. Much to our relief, it arrived right at the scheduled time. A little after 6pm, we pulled into the bus station in Munich. Before we even had time to worry about our luggage, a man with a big red beard came up to greet us. Waiting in a neat stack behind him were our three suitcases, my dad’s laptop bag, our lunchbox, and even my mom’s favorite hat. “Your luggage?” he asked with a smile. We thanked him profusely and smiled with relief to see all our belongs waiting there for us. Even when we thought we would be stranded in Friedrichshafen, God was faithful not only to get us safely to Munich, but to protect our luggage as well. :)

As we walked away, with smiles on our faces and our luggage in tow, I couldn’t help but think how rare it must be to find that your lost luggage has actually been waiting for you.

Mom and Dad in Munich