November 10, 2012 – The Full Story (Part 3)
You read yesterday in parts 1 &2 about how after much running, scrambling, searching and decision making, we finally made it to our train that would take us back to Vienna. Or so we thought.
Part 3: Bad Luck
I don’t believe in bad luck. Not in the slightest. I do believe in bad coincidences, things that happen that you look back on later and go, “Funny how that worked out”. This bad coincidence started with – and I am not making this up – a black cat.
We were standing by this forsaken train station, recovering our breath after having just run uphill to catch a train that would come in 2 minutes and take us home, when Holly saw a black cat cross the train tracks. I point this out, again, not because I think it means anything, but only because what was about to happen made us think later of that black cat and go, “Really? A black cat? How cliche can you get?”
So the cat crossed the tracks, Holly made cat noises at it, and we waited for our train to come. Holly ate some Pringles, and I took some photos, satisfied that we were home free.
Lazily, a train worker came out of the station and smiled at us. We smiled back. She said something in Croatian. I said, “Train”, and pulled out our tickets to confirm to her that we were good to go. She smiled and shook her head, and repeated, “Train”. “Right,” I said, “Train. We have tickets. Wir haben Karten,” I repeated in German, just in case that would work. “Nein,” she said. “Ja,” I said. “Ne,” she said. “Da,” I said. “No,” she said. “No train.”
“Oh,” I said.
Holly and I looked at each other, with looks that simultaneously said, “Really?” and “What now?” “No train?” I asked to the nice train worker. “No train,” she said. “Bus.”
After using Germ-ation-ish a while longer, we figured out that the train line between where we were and the Croatian/Slovenian border was canceled that day, for whatever reason. Instead, a bus line was running the route. This bus would take us to the border, where a train would pick us up and take us on to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and then on to Vienna. So just when we thought we were finally done…funny how that works.
No problem, we sighed, trying to keep a good attitude about this whole thing, as this wasn’t really a huge inconvenience, taking into account everything else we had been through that day. This was just another bump in the road, and then we were finished, right?
The large charter bus rolled into the parking lot, filled completely with Croatians who acted like this was a normal occurrence, and it probably was. We settled into two seats in the back and listened to the Serbian pop music while watching the stark, hilly scenery of northwestern Croatia fold into the mountains of southern Slovenia. It was only a 30 minute ride, and then there we were, pulling into the train station just south of the border, and everyone leaving the bus to board the train already waiting there for us, and Holly and I getting a compartment all to ourselves, and settling in for a nice 3 hour ride through the Slovenian mountains, and me saying, “Well, at least it can’t get any worse!” (really, I said that – you’d think I’d have learned by then), and us crossing the border and me taking this picture to the right to celebrate us entering Slovenia and what also turned out would be my last picture of the European Union for 3 months, and us pulling into the border check on the Slovenian side of the border only a couple of minutes later….
And that night, after being denied entrance into the EU and being pulled off trains and put into police cars and left on highways and calling taxis and taking buses across Croatia to an acquaintances capital, and as we were getting into bed still shaken up from border controls and stamped passports and frantic calls to coworkers and family and making plans to visit embassies, we thought back on the black cat.
“Really?” we said. “A black cat?”