I love riding the trains in Europe. We needed to get from Budapest, Hungary, to Dresden, Germany which is only about 500 miles, but it is through Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and then barely into Germany. Although there is a system of highways somewhat equivalent to the US Interstate system, the tell-tale sign is when I looked it up on Mapquest, the response was, “You can’t get there from here!”
I also looked at flying, but that would have meant about a $400 ticket and flying through Frankfurt, which would have taken us almost the same length of time it took to get to Dresden on the train for less than half the price. Plus the advantages of train travel in Europe, for instance:
- You can look out the windows and see beautiful landscape, villages, cities, and people! Much of our route from Budapest to Dresden was along the Danube River and was just breathtakingly beautiful.
- You have lots of leg room, so you sit so much more comfortably. We actually had not only our seats, but the seats turned toward us in front of us, so Sherrylee propped her feet up on that seat–with plastic underneath, of course, and I could cross my legs without banging the seat in front and getting dirty looks from the passenger in front of me.
- Just before we got on the train, I went to the kiosk in Budapest and spent my last Hungarian florints on a “feast.” It was only bottled water and snacks for the trip. We call it a feast because one summer in Europe when Philip and Ben were much younger–maybe 10 and 8, we took a train trip together. We bought a feast as we called it of all the snack food that we probably shouldn’t have because Mom wasn’t around to make us eat yoghurt or something else healthy–you know, kinda playing the man card! Back then, you rode in compartments with closed doors, so we started the trip with one all to ourselves. At each stop, the boys would start playing or being loud Americans and, as we anticipated, nobody ever joined us in our compartment. I’m not sure I’m proud of that, but it makes a fun memory for all of us.
- It was a 9 hour trip from Budapest to Dresden, but I read almost a whole book–it just feels like quiet, comfortable stolen time while you travel by train, and I highly recommend it!
When we arrived in Dresden, we expected one blessing and received another. Randy Carroll, missionary in Dresden for over nine years now, was going to meet us at the train station and take us over to the airport where we would pick up a rental car for the rest of our travels. Randy, however, was sick, so his sweet wife Brianna came and met us and got us to the airport. Then she rode with us to Chemnitz, about an hour away, where we were to have supper with all of the workers there.
The Carrolls have been faithful servants in Dresden for a long time. For a variety of reasons, they will be returning to the States next year, so we were able to have a long talk as we drove about re-entry, about third culture children, and just about how they feel about their work. It is not perhaps our main reason for coming to Europe, but we always are blessed ourselves with the chance to meet these heroes of faith, and if we can share from our own life experiences a little, then perhaps we are a blessing to them as well.
I can’t wait to tell you about Chemnitz and Leipzig. Look for the report on that visit tomorrow.