Day 7: Train Trouble

Today we mercifully didn’t have to leave until 9:05 am so we all got to sleep in for the first time in a long time. Breakfast was extremely crowded and there must have been some event going on in Augsburg that drew so many people to our hotel. After getting to the train station, the real adventure for the day began.

Bayern Munich, a soccer team in the Bundesliga, was playing a match today so fans from Augsburg were flocking to Munich to see their team play. This meant that the train was very crowded. Our group piled aboard the train but were very squished. In order to alleviate the crampedness of our group, Arielle and Dr. Feick decided that we should hop off of our car at the first stop, run down to another car on the same train, and board that, hoping that it would be less crowded. When we neared the next station, the message was sent around, but all the students didn’t have a great understanding of what was going on. The 17 students closest to the door and Arielle got off. By the time the last two students and I got to the door, it was clearly too late for us to make it to another car so Dr. Feick told us to stay on the car. After a few moments, the rest of the group that had exited ran frantically back to our car and we mashed the “door open” button to try and let them back on by the train suddenly began to move and the train, with me, two other students, Sonja, and Dr. Feick on it, slipped away from the station. It was like a scene out of a movie.

A quick phone call was made, and a plan was determined. Group A (my group) would get off at the next stop and wait for Group B (the group left behind). The reason being, Sonja had the tickets for everyone and we couldn’t risk Group B riding the train all the way to Munich without having tickets on them. Group B would get on the next regional train and when the train hit the stop Group A got off at, we would hop on and everyone would sing Kumbaya.

When Group A’s train got to the next station, we pushed the “door open” button but the door remained motionless. We began to freak out a little bit until we realized that we had previously overlooked a bright orange sign on the door reading “out of order.” This threw only a minor hitch into our plan, as we simply moved to another door and got out at the stop two down from where Group B was stranded. The stop we eventually got out at was in the middle of a bunch of fields, and it further felt like we were in a movie, stranded in the middle of nowhere. Finally, the next regional train pulled up with Group B on it and as Group A squeezed on, our whole group was reunited.

We got to Munich and hurried to our tour, which we ended up being slightly late for. On the tour, we saw St. John’s, the marketplace, the general’s memorial, the Munich theatre, and most amusingly, the so-called “monkey tower.” Our tour guide told us a story about (future) king Ludwig II. When he was a baby, he had a monkey that was free to roam the entire house. One day, after watching the nurse hold the prince, the monkey decided to imitate her and picked up Ludwig. When the nurse saw this, she screamed, which frightened the monkey, causing it to run up into a tower with the baby still in its arms. The royal family tried everything to get the monkey to come down until finally, a girl from the kitchen came up with the solution. She knew that the monkey liked apples, so she offered one to the monkey who promptly came down and returned the baby for the apple.

After the tour we had free time, so we first ate at the original Hofbrahaus, left and got ice cream, and then went to the market to buy gifts. Next, we went to see the Munich gardens, which were very relaxing, but by far the coolest thing was the river surfing. A bridge across the river was constructed so that it would create waves in the river. Surfers, clad in black wet suits, would jump in on their surfboards and surf the river, occasionally doing tricks, until they fell down and were carried down the river for a bit until they climbed out. It was fascinating to watch, and we must have stood there for 20 minutes without getting bored a bit.

In our personal travel around Munich, the first interesting thing was just how crowded the city was, especially with Bayern Munich fans. Secondly, it was very interesting that we were able to navigate to places on our tour route like the Hofbrahaus and the Gardens by using landmarks from the tour route and basic navigational skills. It is amazing what 6 people’s shared memory can do.

On the way back to Augsburg, we had yet another exciting train story. On our walk to the train station, we suddenly realized that we had only five minutes until our train left Munich. If we missed it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but we would have to wait 30 minutes for the next one. We started fast-walking to the train station and when we saw the train still in the station, we all literally took off running and fortunately found a door that was still being held open, so we were all able to pile on. It was a day of train adventures.

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