Any vacation that my family of six takes is always an adventure, but our three week, whirlwind trip to Europe last summer was by far the most exciting. My family has a knack for standing out wherever we go, and this trip was no exception. Resembling a family of ducks, my mom, three younger brothers, and I trailed behind by dad as he led us through the Vatican Museum, over Swiss Mountain Peaks, and along the windy streets of Venice, all while holding his trusty Rick Steve’s guide book.
We always made a grand entrance into every town in our navy blue, nine-seater van that could be heard from miles away and was three times the size of all the other European cars. While everyday was an adventure, our first morning was by far the rockiest.My dad, wanting to see as much as humanly possible, saw our twenty-four hour layover in Frankfort, Germany as the perfect opportunity to visit the Rhine River. While most would have simply stayed at a hotel near the airport, my dad decided we would spend the night in Bacharach, a quaint little town on the Rhine River about an hour from the airport.
We fought through jetlag as we explored old castles and little cobblestone walkways. By 9:30 we crashed on our beds, hoping to catch some sleep before the harsh ring of the alarm clock would wake us at 5:30 so we could catch our 6:30 train back to the airport. Well, as usual, things did not go exactly as planned.
To begin with, the alarm didn’t go off, so when my mom awoke and to her surprise saw that the clock said 5:55, we went into a slight panic mode. All we had time for was throwing on clothes and brushing our teeth, making it now two days without a shower. We sprinted down the deserted cobblestone streets to the train station, our luggage making quite a racket as it thudded along.
Amazingly we made it on the train, though we were hyperventilating by this point. As I sat on the train, watching the farm fields wiz by, I thought to myself, ‘Well at least we had our most stressful moment at the beginning of the trip’, but little did I know that more was still to come.After 30 minutes or so, we switched trains to finish the rest of our journey to the airport. However, when the conductor came to stamp our ticket a slight frown crossed his face, and he said something in German, yet quickly switched to English when he was met with our confused looks.
The next few words he spoke to my dad made an enormous knot instantly form in my stomach. They were, ‘Sir, you are on the wrong train and heading in the complete opposite direction that you want to go.’ Thankfully Martin, the conductor, was extremely helpful and gave us clear directions of how to go back to the airport, but by the time we would reach the airport, we would have only forty minutes until our plane left. As soon as we got off the train we began to run, hair flying and bags flapping.
Panic set in because if we missed our flight, we would have to wait until the following day for the next plane to fly-out, and all the hotels were booked because of the World Cup. We had to go through 2 security checks and get our passports stamped. As we came up to the last security check, I glanced at the clock and to my dismay saw that we had ten minutes left before the plane departed.
The line in front of us seemed to go on forever. Was it truly possible that we could make it this far and still miss the plane? Just when I was about to give up hope, an announcement came over the speakers: ‘Anyone flying to Riga, please come to the front of the security line.’ I could not believe my ears, and as we were whisked through the security line and onto the bus that drove us to the plane, all I could do was think in disbelief of how lucky my family was to make the plane. I learned the valuable lesson that day that when traveling, there will always be unexpected twists and turns so do not waist time worrying about them, but rather try to make the best out of the situation.
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