Most of the notable challenges during travel have involved trains. Inside of the train terminals there are kiosks, which I assume you need some kind of higher education to operate. Either that or you need to be a teenager. Fortunately for us while we were trying to figure out our train from Salzburg to Munich, we encountered a group traveling together being led by a German teacher from Boston. She had traveled to Germany many times and showed us the cheap tickets that allowed us to get to Munich and then have the rest of the day with free use of their transit system. Unfortunately, she led us to believe that we could take any train. This was not true.
This became crystal clear after we boarded our train. Unlike every movie I have ever seen, there are not porters standing by the doors waiting to check your ticket. You, and I mean we, are supposed to know which train we are getting on and where our seats are on that train. After all, it is clearly written (no it isn’t) on the signage.
We made our way from car to car and found the car with the bar. There we discovered that we were in fact on the wrong train. The bartender and a gentleman traveler interpreted our ticket for us. We had boarded the fast train. Oops. A man who looked a lot like Dumbledore was watching us and speaking to the others in German. It seemed he knew what he was doing and what we should do, but it did not seem like he spoke English.
After much discussion by the three men, they agreed that we should ride the train to the next stop, just five minutes away. The bartender said, “The conductor won’t be coming by anytime soon. Just stay on.”
Then Dumbledore spoke up in perfect English, “That is best. Just get off at the next stop. You will be fine.”
I knew this was the closest I would ever get to hopping a freight (even if that freight did have air conditioning, a bar and cushioned seats). Plus we had the blessing of the bartender and Dumbledore. We stayed on. After all, it was only a five-minute ride.
Three minutes into the trip, guess who came through our car. That’s right, Harry Potter. No, the conductor. My sister, who was facing that direction, had the color drain from her face as she whispered, “Here comes the conductor.”
I assured my co-conspirators that I would not implicate them. As the conductor passed us, the bartender and I exchanged a look. I mimed biting my fingernails. Dumbledore gave me the thumbs up.
We pulled up almost to the station and sat for ten minutes. There was discussion as to whether or not we should make a run for it, but we were cool.
As we disembarked, the train we were supposed to be on pulled up. I looked back at our first train and there was Dumbledore, pointing us in the right direction and giving us a thumbs up. And then he disappeared. Okay, his train pulled away. It was magic.