Which Direction Do I Go?!

Traveling has a way of pushing you past your comfort zone and, at times, really testing your patience.  It is one of those things where you learn as you go, especially when you are alone with no one to depend on, to ask questions, or to get a second opinion.  After attending Amsterdam’s biggest festival of the year – King’s Day, I said my goodbye to my couch surfing host and set off to find my way back to the airport.  It is important to note that the airport was over two hours away and in another country – Belgium.  Plus, I had made the mistake of booking a flight at 9 am Monday morning and I was still in Amsterdam at 8 pm the Sunday before.  Typical me.
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Amsterdam Central Station

My second mistake was that I really wanted to see more of Amsterdam, so I decided to take my chances and get on the very last train offered to Belgium.  Knowing that I had to switch trains, I said my prayers that there would be no delays to cause me to miss that important second train.  Well, it was the last day of the festival and guess what? There was a delay.  A big delay.
I sat there in the train waiting anxiously for it to move and realized that my chances were slim-to-none to make my connections.  If the train I was on didn’t arrive on time, I would miss my connecting train that would get me to the airport in time.
Missed train=missed flight
I called for the guy working inside the train.  “Sir, it is SO important that I get on my connecting train.  I didn’t realize that there would be such a delay,” I told him.
With a comforting way about him he told me, “I will do everything I can.  I will contact your next train and see what I can do.  However, when the doors open you have to be ready to run, FAST!”
Two people my age overheard our conversation and mentioned that they had the exact same problem.  We made a plan and decided to take our chances on running for the other train.  The man working on the train did everything he could to help us.  He looked at my bag, looked back to me, and said, “OK, this bag looks like it will be too heavy for you to run with.  I am going to get someone to take my place on the train, so I can run across the station with you.  I am going to carry your bag so we can go faster.”  I had met several rude workers in positions like his, so his helpful reaction made my jaw drop.
[cml_media_alt id='594']Our summary of what happened to us...[/cml_media_alt]

Our summary of what happened to us…

Without a chance for more discussion, the doors opened and the four of us ran at top speed across the station.
Down the escalator, up the stairs, darting in and out between people, we neared the train where the door was still open.  What a relief!!  We ran excitedly to the door and it SHUT right in our face.
Without hesitation, we were instructed to run to another part of the station to get on a different train, ride on it for about an hour and then to transfer onto yet another train.  Sweating, we made it to the new train, but were only able to give a small thanks to the very helpful worker who was standing outside the train window waving goodbye.  We caught our breath and stayed on that train for an hour, laughing about the experience we just had.  After about an hour’s train ride our time together was up and we all parted ways.
Again, I was very alone in a train that I thought was going in the right direction.  The train was silent and so was I.  Pulling my pink polka-dot rolling suitcase behind me with a face of complete despair I asked the silent people in the train, “Can someone PLEASE help me figure out which stop to get off on?”
Not a single person knew the answer to my question, not even the man working on the train.  He said that I COULD get off and take a bus, however it was 1 am, and nothing would be available to transfer me to the airport.  Others told me that I could take a long taxi ride.  Soon, I had a ten-person argument going on in the train.  Five people were telling me to get off at one stop and the other five swore they were wrong and I should get off at the next stop.  Eventually, all ten people got off at random stops and I was left once again alone.  As the people exited, I got the same response from most of them, “Good luck. I hope you find your way.”
With a huge smile I said, “Thank you.  Don’t worry about it.  I may end up in China, but at least it’s another adventure.”  They laughed and waved as the train pulled away again.
I smiled, but I did have some concern about ever arriving at my destination.  In an instant, I decided to get off the train and take a chance.  I ended up at 2 am in a huge train station with not a single person in sight.  I walked, then walked some more, and still saw nobody.  After a while, I came across four girls and a guy, all about my age, sitting in the floor in the corner of the station.  I asked them if they possibly knew how I could get to the airport.  I could not believe my ears.  “We are going to the Brussels airport, too!”  There was not a single person in sight, but I “’randomly” ran into an American guy and four girls from Argentina who were going to the same place as me.  WOW!
[cml_media_alt id='592']Kings day 2[/cml_media_alt]

My lifesavers!

I began to laugh and shared my experiences of what had happened to me so far and how I thought I might never make it to the airport.  We decided since it was 3 am and we really had nothing to do, we were going to have a little fun.  Since they too had attended the big festival in Amsterdam, we all had some dress-up clothes stashed away.  The party began.

My favorite part of this story is that we were all complete strangers when we met at the train station, but by the end of the night, it was as if we had been friends for years.  It also shows that it is true that traveling does have a way of pushing you past your comfort zones, but in most cases, people will be put in your path to help you.  Best of all, you often have funny, new stories to add to your adventure.

[cml_media_alt id='595']kings day 5[/cml_media_alt]

Being crazy with my new friends 🙂

What would you have done if you were in my place? Have you had a similar experience? Share your stories and comments below! 

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