Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Get Thrown off a European Train-Czech

I'm sorry about that title. It is so cheesy, but I just had to do it. It wasn't humanly possible to call it anything else after that popped in my head. Also, a note of warning-this is a long one.

So we started the day at Dachau Concentration Camp for a serious stop on our sightseeing tour. It was a great memorial and the audioguide combined with the knowledge from the last 2 trips to the Holocaust Museum in DC we got a pretty thorough look at the atrocity of Hitler. We walked around and just couldn't imagine coming there if you were German or a prisoner and had lived through the experience


We had already bought our tickets to Prague at the beginning of our trip so we weren't worried about rushing to the station so we just took our time, grabbed some dinner and then headed to our train. The German leg of our trip was crazy. The train was packed with soccer fans heading to a Eurocup game so it was standing room only on the train (luckily we were early and got a seat). Once they all got off, we were told to switch cars because the one we were on wasn't going all the way to Prague. So we made our switch and thanked God for sitting us next to a kind man who translated the message for us since it was only given in German. One bullet dodged!

So we were happily sitting on what we believed was the last train to Prague with what we thought was a ticket and couldn't wait to arrive. The ticket lady came through asking for tickets and so we happily handed over ours. She stamped it and was about to leave when I asked her a question about whether it was a round trip ticket because we were a little concerned because it was in German and we didn't fully understand the ticket. Stupid me, I should have just let her walk out. When she took a second look at the ticket she realized that it wasn't a ticket to Prague. We had been given an incorrect ticket so we didn't in fact have a ticket for this train. She told us to exit at the next station but kindly she didn't fine us.

This is the point where we realize Josh and I would not make a good Amazing Race team. He is apparently not good at split second decisions-NOT AT ALL!

Here's the situation as we know it: It is 9:30 PM. This is the last train to Prague and we are about to be dumped at what is probably a tiny Czech town with NO idea how to speak the language and NO idea where we are. My brain is just spinning trying to come up with the best plan but Josh doesn't want to discuss it, he says stay on the train until they fine us and throw us off. I want you to know, I really tried to get on board with this plan but the longer we sat there I just couldn't see that working for us. I think it will be better to pick the stop where we are kicked off because maybe we could pick one with running water that way :).

As my brain is flying I realize that we have stopped for a few minutes at every station since we have crossed the Czech border so that is the solution. Send one of us off the train-running to an ATM and the ticket counter and buy the correct tickets and make it back on the train. Josh is still holding firm to the "stay on this train until they physically kick us off" plan.

When the next stop is a place with a tall office building, I convince him to try my plan because even if we are stuck, this is a town that will have a place for us to sleep at least. However, the time it took to convince him at the station cut our time from 8 to 5 minutes to get back on the train.

pit stop to prague

Josh says we are going together so we BOLT for the train station. Because this is "my plan" I have to do the talking.

Window 1: Can't help you have to go to the international window. Get there: She isn't at the window. She comes and I ask her for a ticket to Prague just barely holding back tears because I know we've already been off the train for 3 minutes. She understands English (praise God) and she starts on the tickets when Josh jumps in to ask if that is the last train, she looks away to check and says "no."

Relief...can you feel it? We are paying for our ticket when we hear the whistle blow for our train but we don't even worry about getting back to it because we are so relieved to have another option.

I really can't tell you how happy we were to be getting on another train that night. When we boarded our second train an hour later we sat next to a kind man who knew very little English but really wanted to try to communicate with us. He helped us locate our hotel on our map and then you know what he did next. He tried to quote John 3:16 to us but he got stuck in the middle and couldn't remember the rest of it in English. He knew very little English but he was trying to witness to us. When I finished it for him he just threw his hands up and said "You believers? Praise God!" He told us it was so rare to find believers in Czech Republic so he couldn't believe he sat next to some on the train.

He sang us hymns in Czech and asked us to sing some in English to him. It was a great time for the hour and a half to Prague. I wish we could have communicated better because he wanted to talk to us so badly and I wanted to hear what I was sure were amazing stories of how the Czech Republic had changed in his 74 years. When we arrived in Prague he was supposed to continue on but he said it was late and he wanted to help us find our hotel.

The man got off the train at midnight with us and helped us find our hotel. He didn't just point, he got on the tram with us, he asked in Czech to passerbys for directions and walked us to the door of our hotel.

Talk about a blessing. A night that could have gone down in our books as the worst night of our trip was redeemed and we fully believe we were meant to be kicked off our train so we could meet Miroslav Venc.



Anonymous said...

Well, you made me cry! Wonderful story & I am so glad I did not know about your problems till they were solved. God does some pretty neat things for us. MOM

Memry said...

Awwww Miroslav!! What a sweetie pie. That is such a cool story!

Step said...

Never know what God has in store for you huh?