On the Edge in Eisenstein
We finally arrived in Munich, not as rested as we would have liked, but we still arrived safe and sound. Didn’t feel that well because I was so stressed about making the right train and getting on the train, and figuring out where to go etc. We made it fine though, and unfortunately missed the bus up to the castle by only minutes. We had to wait around for about an hour (which proved later to be crucial) and got something to eat. We eventually made it up to the castle, soaking wet in the pouring rain with only one umbrella since Amy had left hers in her bag at the train station in Munich. There was a really cool waterfall and glacier blue pond that we saw when we walked across this bridge by the castle. Unfortunately, I was too cold and wet to even care about taking a picture. In fact, it was so densely foggy and rainy that you could hardly even see the castle. We waited for about 5 minutes before our group was called for the tour and in the meantime attempted to dry ourselves off with the hand dryers in the extremely crowded bathroom. Just as I was slightly drying off mid-tour I looked outside and noticed that the rain had turned to snow. It was beautiful but at the same time, I was mortified. I was literally a dripping half-frozen mess at this point and snow wasn’t going to make it any better. Turns out that it wasn’t as bed as I thought it would be, but I was still wet, and still just as unprepared (only wearing my tread-worn pumas, a light sweater, and a California jacket). We finished the tour realizing that we needed to book it down to the train station. But because of the snow, they had stopped sending the buses up the hill, so we had to resort to taking a horse drawn carriage, which was cute, but not that efficient. We realized that we weren’t going to make the train and decided to think things over in a warm lunch place. I pulled out my train time tables, and that was the ONE connection we needed. With the information I had, I couldn’t see any other means for us to get to Prague that night. We got to the train station eventually and decided that we would just hope that there was going to be another option for us to get to Prague. On the way back we met some girls from Point Loma that were studying in England for the semester. It was funny because one of the girls was a communications major and I realized that since they were sophomores in college, that there was a possibility that my sister could have known this girl if she had gone to Point Loma. It was an interesting coincidence.
We finally ended up back in Munich and as Amy got our bags from the lockers, I went to the information desk to try and figure out how on earth we could get to Prague. The only option was to take like 4 different trains and one had a 7 hour layover in this place called Eisenstein. I had no idea what to do. Do we play it safe and stay in a hotel in Munich for the night and just get an early train the next morning? or do we try to get as close to Prague as we can? We went with the latter, but I couldn’t help but feel like we just should have held fast in Munich until the morning. I was so distraught with fear that we would end up in some tiny little town with a small train station that was closed and we would have nowhere to go that night. It was full on snowing too at this point, with a good inch or so on the ground. It was dark, cold, snowing, and I had no idea where I was going to sleep that night. I don’t think I have been more scared in my whole life. What I should have remembered was the verse about not being afraid of what comes next, because even as God cares for the birds, He cares for me too.
I asked some ladies sitting next to us on this metro-like train if they spoke English and if they knew if there were any hotels in this destination we had called “Eisenstein.” They said they didn’t think so but they weren’t sure (in broken English). Turns out Eisenstein is a small resort town on the border of Germany and the Czech Republic. Fun fact: it’s off-season at the time. I tried asking these ladies sitting behind us if they knew of any places to find a hotel in Eisenstein or on one of the stops nearby. They were kind enough to use their smart phones to look up a pension for us to stay. We took down the address and the phone number and thanked them tremendously.
As we disembarked the train, we tried to decide where we should go given that the station was indeed closed, and that there didn’t seem to be anyone or anything nearby. This guy approached us and asked us if we needed help finding our way (in his funny English-German accent). We accepted, though a little scared, but more than scared desperate. We walked around for a good hour shlepping our heavy bags through the snow in the pitch dark of night. I nearly slid down an icy hill since my Puma’s have been worn so much they have almost no traction or tread anymore. But it was nice that our new-found friend Ferdinand held my hand whilst walking down the hill. We were also freezing since we were wearing the same unprepared clothes as we were in the morning. We searched for a good hour for this place and even asked the lady in this restaurant in town if she knew where it was, and she didn’t. We walked around a bit more and still couldn’t find it. I felt like Mary and Joseph looking for room at the inn. There was literally nothing in this city. It was only about 7 or 8 at night and was pitch black with almost no lights on in any of the houses. There were no cars driving around or to be seen, and no people walking around, nor in the restaurant we visited. As it turns out, the restaurant that we frequented (twice at this point) owned the hostel/pension that Ferdinand was staying at and he offered to ask them if it was ok if we stayed there or at the other one that they owned right next to his. They said they had a room and he agreed to walk us there. 50 euro later, we had a warm bed and shower, wifi, and a good 8 hours of sleep (since we decided to catch a later train rather than one at 4am AND it was daylight savings!). Ferdinand insisted that he walk us back to the train station the next morning and made sure that we got our ticket to Prague.
This day taught me so much. I went through so many emotions and learned to trust others when they offer to help – discerningly, of course. It was scary trusting Ferdinand at first because he was some random person off the train and spoke English funny. But without him I have no idea what we would have done. We would have slept in the cold and had no hand to hold when slipping down the icy hill and no one to walk us back to the train station. We went from being afraid and blindly trusting, to feeling safe with this person. More than trusting people though, I realized that I need to trust in God more. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be ok. I felt so alone and lost in this wilderness (literally and metaphorically). I didn’t know where I was sleeping that night. I didn’t know how to find a place to stay. I was completely out of control of the situation. All I could do was trust in what was happening right then and there. Looking back, there were so many miracles on that day. The fact that the ladies behind us spoke perfect English and tried to help us find somewhere to stay was a miracle. The fact that someone was nice enough to go out of their way to help some strangers find their way through a foreign place was a miracle. The fact that that someone who helped us wasn’t a creepy psychopath was perhaps the biggest miracle. And the fact that we were able to find a place to stay at such short notice and in the off-season was a miracle. What I learned more than anything was to not worry about what isn’t in your control. You have to be smart though, you can’t just go willy-nilly through life not making smart decisions or at least trying to, or else you are going to get yourself seriously hurt. You have to put your faith in Him and that He will take care of even your most primitive need, but you also have to be smart about what is going on around you. I feel like I was blessed to have things work out the way they did; to have this story to tell; and to have been able to make a friend along the way.
Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or gather the harvest into barns. Yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?
Neushwanstein Castle, a set on Flickr.