Turning the corner, hoping the hostel was where was supposed to be from the map, my dad and I spotted my mom across the street. With a smile I waved over and scampered across the street to her. With a sigh of relief, I went up and hugged her with this feeling of safety that we were in the right place. We walked together into the hostel, and as the door opened a warm rush of air from the hostel hit my body almost dropping me to the floor in relief. Walking in, I scanned the lobby and spotted some couches by a fireplace. Of course, after a long chilly walk across Paris that would be my final destination.
My mom and dad followed along, and we sat around the fireplace. That was when my mom asked me that long expected question, “What happened? ” We were two weeks into our three-week trek across Europe in a group of eleven. The group included my family with my uncle, Roy and Jane Sharp with their grand kids and two other friends. At the time we were in Cinque Terre, Italy. The next morning we planned to leave by train to Paris. Waking up was pretty hard since we basically walked all yesterday. Every inch my body moved it felted like needles piercing my insides.
Yet, I got myself up and got ready to go out to the train station. Our whole group was out there on time for the train, and we all had those sleepy expressions on our face due to the early start. A few minutes later I could hear the train coming down the tunnel, and when it got close a gush of air came swarming out of the tunnel. It almost felt like you were in a hurricane. When the train halted to a stop we all hopped on and got seated, and off we went. About five minutes in I checked if I had everything on me, such as my passport.
I checked for where my passport would usually be, but it wasn’t there. Looking through the rest of my luggage, all I found was the tube of toothpaste I lost earlier that week. Suddenly I realize the night before I put my passport under my pillow, though I’m not sure why I did. Knowing where it was made me a bit calmer. I told my group about what happened, and they decided that my dad should go back with me to get my passport. The problem was that we had a reserved train to catch from Malian to Paris, so we knew that would ended up being separated from our group until we get to Paris.
At this point my dad and I took the next train back to Cinque Terre, and the rest of our group went on to Milan. On the way back, all that was going through my head was how stupid I was to leave my passport and how I might be ruining the trip for the whole group. Well, when we got back I basically ran back to the hostel hoping it would be where I left it. To my luck it was, and you can imagine the relief that we both had. Yet, the “amazing” adventure was not over. Now we had to figure out to get back to our group in Paris, one way or another.
When we got back to the station my dad, as any dad would do, took up the reins in figuring out how to get to Malian. Franticly he went to everybody, finding the ones that spoke English, and asking the best way to get to Paris. He found out that the train workers Paris are on strike. This got me on the edge knowing if we will ever make it to Paris before the day is over. We adapted and decided to head to Malian to get on a different train to Paris, or even better find our group. We luckily found a train going directly to Malian and hopped and prayed for the best of us ahead.
When the train pulled into Malian we jolted awaked, and scattered out onto the platform. We headed toward the massive TV screen listing the train schedules, none of them mentioned Paris. Like before, I watched my dad go from one person from another asking “English? ”. At one moment it seemed as if I was watching pinball and as my dad, the ball, bouncing around from people to people. Finally he found out that we were at the wrong station and had to take the subway to the correct one. Once we got to the right station, my dad went back to his pinball thing asking around for answers.
To our luck, we found a train going directly to Paris, and at that point we felt satisfied that we going to make it. Once we turned the corner to the platform we found out that we were totally wrong. The platform was packed with people waiting to get on our train to Paris. With confused faces, we up to a lady and asked about what was going on. She said that because of the strikes in Paris they had to combine three different trains going to Paris into one. To make it worse, she added that only people with reserved tickets are allowed to ride.
At that point we thought we were going to have to sleep at the station over night or hitch a bus ride over to Paris. Again, to our luck she told us that you don’t need reserved tickets to be in the bar car. Since we had Eurail Pass, which allows you to ride any train for the amount of time you paid for, we thought we could get away with it. When it was time to get on she led us in and explained the situation, in French, to one of the train workers. Thanks to her we were able to stay on the train for the moment. When the train creaked to a start, we both couldn’t believe how far we had made it and all the help we had along the way.
We especially had God to thank because we knew that he works through everyone for good, and it was pretty obvious too in our situation. Mom amazed by our story, told us that we were probably tired and get some rest to tell the others. We both agreed and stumbled the stairs to our rooms. When my dad opened the door I saw the most beautiful thing in the world at the time, the bed. Instantly I threw my stuff to the corner of the room and hit the hay. Just before I fell asleep I immediately thought of the famous quote from Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you don’t know what you’re going to get! ”