Trip Start Oct 25, 2007
61Trip End May 15, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Due to the fact that my airport was so much farther away than his, we did a "trial run" earlier in the week so I knew which trains to take to get me to Dusseldorf. This is the confusing route I had to follow...the first train left the stop near our apartment at 5:50 a.m. From there I had to catch the Number 16 train to the Dom Cathedral (Central Station). Once I got there, I had to take the Dusseldorf/Flughaven train (which left at 6:35 a.m.) to the Dusseldorf Airport.
On the day of our departure I was a nervous wreck. Steve left 2 hours before me to make his flight out of Cologne and so I was on my own. As I began walking to the first train station (which wasn't that far away), I almost passed out because I didn't anticipate that lugging two suitcases, a 15 lb. backpack, and purse would be so difficult. I had forgotten that when Steve picked me up from the airport when I first arrived here that he had carried most of my luggage.
As I hauled my suitcases down the street all I could think was, "I wish I would've packed lighter...did I really need that extra sweater?" Anyway, I got to the first train stop in plenty of time. When I was about to board the train, the wheels of my suitcase got stuck in the gap between the train and the platform. I panicked knowing that I only had 5 seconds to get on the train. In desperation, I yanked as hard as I could and all four of us (the two suitcases, backpack, and me) fell onto the train. I muttered a few not very nice words but at least I made it on before I got squished between the closing doors.
When I got to Neumarkt, I was relieved that a third of my trip to the airport was over. Once I got off of the first train, I had to make my way to the second one. As Steve and I practiced, I walked to the escalators to bring me down to the next train. The escalators were not running. So I had no choice but to carry all of my luggage down three flights of stairs. When I got to the bottom I could barely breathe. I dragged my suitcases through the train station and when I finally got to where I "thought" I was supposed to be, I realized I had to go down one more level. I dragged my luggage toward the escalators...Nope, these were out of order too. And so I carried my luggage down ANOTHER three flights of stairs. By the time I got to the bottom, I was MAD. I'm not talking upset...I'm talking throw my suitcases, stomp on my backpack mad! I had everything I could do not to scream.
Once I finally got to the Central Train Station, I took the escalators to the top (yes, I finally found a set that worked). When I surfaced, I had no idea where I was. Steve and I practiced this, but clearly I came out of the train station in the wrong place. By the time I figured out where I was, I had to walk all the way around to find the entrance. Of course when I got there, I had to go down three more flights of stairs because THAT escalator was not working either.
When I FINALLY made it inside the train station, I looked on the board for the next departure time to Dusseldorf/Flughaven. I had five minutes to make it to my gate which was at the opposite end of the terminal. With 75-lbs. worth of luggage dragging behind me, I started running and I wasn't stopping for anything. People literally jumped out of my way because they knew if they didn't move...they were going to get run over!
When I finally got to my departure gate, the train was already there. People were frantically running and yelling for the train to wait. I thought, "After everything I've been through, there is no way I am missing this train and waiting an hour for the next one." And so I started yelling too..."Wait, wait...wait for me!" At the last second, I grabbed my suitcases and dove onto the train. As I sat there amongst my pile of luggage, I felt a little foolish (and somewhat over dramatic) when I realized that they give you extra time to board unlike the train stops in Cologne (but hey, how was I to know).
Once I was on the train, I knew I had at least a forty-minute ride to Dusseldorf/Flughaven. But after an hour passed by and I still had not seen the stop, I started to get a little nervous. After an hour and ten minutes went by, I started to panic. Why haven't I seen the airport yet? And why is this train ride taking so long?
As I waited, I thought maybe the train took some extra stops along the way making the trip a little bit longer. But when the train began to slow down and the conductor started speaking something in German, I knew something was wrong. All of the sudden the lights inside the train came on, everyone stood up, and began heading toward the doors. Since I had no idea what was going on, I asked the lady standing next to me why everyone was getting off. She said, "Train ends...you must leave." WHAT...no, no, no...the train can't end...I'm not to the airport yet.
Realizing that the train wasn't going any further, I had no choice but to get off. Stranded in a train station in the middle of nowhere with all of my luggage, no cell phone, and no idea where the airport was, I started to cry. I now have less than two hours to catch my flight home or I'm not going anywhere.
Left with no other choice, I started approaching random strangers and asking them, "Sprechen sie English?" After asking four or five people and hearing "Nein" (no) from everyone one of them, I gave up. I just stood there next to the train platform with tears in my eyes thinking, "I'm not going home today..."
As I stood there, an older couple saw me with my suitcases looking lost and confused and they came over and asked me, "Airport...are you looking for airport?" I smiled, wiped the tears from my eyes and said, "Yes...can you help me?" With warm smiles they both said to me, "You follow us...we get you there!" I wanted to hug them both because I was so relieved but I didn't want to scare them off!
When the next train came, they motioned for me to follow them. The train ride to Dusseldorf took about twenty minutes. Once we arrived at the airport, I thanked the couple for helping me. They asked if I could find my way from there (and I told them that I could) and then we parted ways. They walked in one direction and went the other. As I was walking, I realized that I had no idea which way I was supposed to go and only an hour left to catch my flight. First came the panic and then came the tears...again!
As I was standing there trying to figure out what to do, the couple turned around and came walking back toward me. They smiled and said, "Follow us...our daughter goes this way too." So I followed them up a series of very confusing escalators and walkways and by the time we got to the top, I was right where I needed to be to check in for my flight.
Once I got there, I smiled and thanked them and would have spoken to them more but they knew very little English. After we said goodbye, I began to walk away and realized I never got their names. So I turned around to ask them, but they had already started to walk away. Much to my surprise, they were heading back in the same direction from which they came. I soon realized that they weren't there to drop their daughter off...they were there to pick her up at the opposite end of the airport. Which meant only one thing...they had just walked from one end of the airport to the other just to help me find my way home. If it hadn't been for "Good Samaritans" like them, I never would have made my flight and I would have missed out on some great times with family and friends waiting to find another plane home