A travel moment in Vienna

I had not wanted to go to Vienna, the thought of its classical music and art galleries failed to excite me. I wanted to stay in Eastern Europe, the medieval architecture of Krakow, the Prague nightlife, the Bratislava tower blocks. I wanted to see soviet statues and rusty trams, but the train to Zagreb required crossing the Iron Curtain and changing trains in Vienna. So I was persuaded that while we were there we should sacrifice one of our few remaining days and stay for a night. I spent the day avoiding other tourists and indeed anyone else in the least expensive place I could find, the Roman Museum, where I explored the city’s ancient history. The others stayed in the hostel!

The next morning I had checked the train times and so we set off to cross the city on the S-Bahn to the correct international station. Spirits were high, we were rested and off to find the sunshine in
Croatia. Jim was feeling energetic and started doing chin ups on the overhead handrails. We had time to visit the station bakery for an overpriced breakfast and then made our way up the escalators to the
platform. James as usual was lagging behind, partly due to his disregard for keeping to any kind of schedule and because he had the heaviest bag, a result of over packing. So by the end of the second escalator Jim and I were half an escalator ahead and on our way onto the platform. Just as we passed under the electronic board detailing our train’s itinerary and as my mind was selecting which door to go for, as the time for departure approached, Jim froze. “Where’s my bag?” he asked, stretching out his right arm on which he had been carrying his small day rucksack. “Oh my god where is it?” I replied. With this Jim spun round to retrace his steps, as James lumbered over “what’s up?” he asked, his face blank with confusion. “Jim’s lost his bag” I said, “his bag with his money, train ticket and his passport! He must have left it on the S-Bahn train when he put it down to do the chin ups!”

So the Zagreb train rolled out while I sat down on my bag and tried to console myself with a cheese sandwich. Meanwhile Jim was frantically trying to explain his situation to the helpdesk. His message seemed to have been understood although the prospects did not look good for us continuing, either that or the station attendant’s only English was swearing. As I tried to work out our next steps, to keep the trip alive, James did his best to help by getting his video camera out and covering the station entrance hall from every possible angle to capture the dramatic scene.

Just as I was running out of hope and sandwiches, a man in a peaked cap of the railway company wandered into view, carrying Jim’s bag. Miracles it seems do happen.

P Morgan

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