We rode a high-speed train from the airport in Frankfurt to our new hometown of Ulm. In theory, riding a train through the German countryside sounds like a beautiful, relaxing way to travel. It didn’t turn out that way for us, however.
No one is at their best after flying for 9 hours. We were dirty and tired and hungry. The kids had slept a bit on the plane, but not much, and to them it felt like we were dragging them around an airport and train station at midnight. We had our giant luggage cart piled high with suitcases and carseats like we were Dust Bowl migrants heading to California.
On board the train, Joe started to feel sick and was trying to take care of himself and the cranky kids. All of us dozed on and off. Sleep was fitful and served only the purpose of causing us to miss most of Germany’s scenic vistas.
And then the worst part of all: Joe got stuck on the train! He and I carried as much off as we could in one load along with the kids, and then he went back and forth grabbing bags and tossing them out to me on the platform, where I was focusing on keeping Lucy from running away. We had suitcases stashed near our seats, in the overhead space, and in the aisles near the exit doors. We counted all 6 bags, 2 carseats, and 4 carry-ons, when I remembered our expensive SLR camera. Joe jumped back in the train to check for it in the overhead where we’d stashed it, just as the doors closed behind him.
Cut to: me standing on the platform, pressing the green open button next to the doors in vain and banging on the window to try to get the attention of the conductor or other staff. Joe, inside, doing the same. Both kids crying upon seeing us act this way. Sam was truly in hysterics. It’s 90+ degrees outside. And all we can think is that Joe is going to have to ride the train to the next stop in Munich and then catch a later train back.
It was agony, at least momentarily. Joe told me after the ordeal that he had been pressing the same buttons to open the train door inside. When that failed, he pressed hard on a different button, breaking glass that surrounded it. Turns out it was an emergency stop button.
So, out of the distant parts of the station start streaming different DeutscheBahn workers on their walkie-talkies. None of them calmed us or spoke to us at all – we were still banging away at the door and panicking. Eventually, they managed to open a different door – the door we were using was not operating correctly, it turns out.
It took about an hour to calm poor Sam down. No wonder all of us have been so sick in this first week. At least, after having such a terrible train experience the first time, it can only get better from here!