next time you miss a train…
…remember there might be a reason for it.
these final few weeks of being on the road through europe have
brought some humbling moments. we’ve been doing our best
to soak up the weeks before we settle over here, but we’ve
also been dealing with the stress of figuring out our future, dealing
with logistics for our upcoming move, and anticipating a lot of changes
in the coming weeks & months. this has caused us to stress out and
lose sight of perspective a bit, and it all came to a head this weekend.
i am a major planner and we are used to our trips being organized
down to every detail. because we weren’t positive about our timeline
and how long we could last on the road before chase’s next project
starts, we couldn’t nail down this final month earlier – so it’s been
very last-minute and spontaneous travel, waking up in the morning
and deciding where to go (usually based on which train is the cheapest :)
it’s once in a lifetime, but it also gets a little bit tricky to navigate finding
hotels in cities late at night, having no plans, and feeling like we have no home.
this weekend we wrapped up a week in slovenia and decided to go back
through some austrian and swiss towns before heading to spain. we were
so happy to have about 5 days planned out with hotels and trains all booked,
and we felt relaxed and ready for the week ahead. we got on a train from
ljubljana to go to graz, austria and settled in. we’ve been really detailed
about all of our trains and we’ve put every transfer into calendar, so when
i saw no transfer details on my phone i was so excited to have a direct train!
we settled in and spent time reading, sleeping, and catching up on things
during a 5 hour train ride. the conductor passed by right about the time
we were supposed to be arriving, and we asked if graz was the next stop.
she laughed and said… “no,you are in germany now!” haha, if you could
have seen our faces at that moment. we laughed and then also started to panic.
we had started in slovenia, missed a transfer and headed straight across the
entire country of austria and we were a few hours into germany. okay then!
we got off at the next stop (which turned out to be a darling german town in
the middle of nowhere called prien a chiemsee) and found wifi at a little cafe.
i was thinking we could still make it to graz where we had a hotel booked and
waiting, until we looked everything up and realized we were now 4 hours away
from our destination and it would make no sense to go back that way just to
stay a night and come back this same direction. we spent an hour looking up
every airbnb in the area, scanning hoteltonight, and looking into every option.
after a lot of back-and-forth we decided that our best bet was to train back
to salzburg, stay a night there and continue on the rest of our itinerary the next
day. we got on a train back to salzburg and arrived there only to realize it was a
friday night and all hotels would be marked up. i started to get so frustrated
because we had already been in salzburg a few weeks prior so we had no
reason to return, and now we would be paying double hotel nights since we
missed the one in graz and needed to book one here. we booked an airbnb
right near the train station and i was feeling pretty bad for myself and mad at
myself for not looking up the transfer schedule. i was not a happy camper.
this is when we walked off the train and into the station to be met with
the sight of red cross tents, food stands, volunteers, and hundreds of
refugee families who had just arrived from fleeing syria. after hearing this
all over the news all summer, seeing the situation in person stopped us in
our tracks. we looked at each other holding back tears, and in one second
our “problem” vanished. i could not believe that i was worried about finding
one hotel night when these families had nowhere to stay OR to live and had
just risked their lives to flee their own country. we saw sweet families who had
all of their life belongings in backpacks and who were holding hands, huddled
together and arriving to a new place in search of a better life. we saw german
and austrian people bringing food donations and piling them high with the
volunteers. my cute husband immediately dropped our bags, went to the
volunteer booth, and asked how we could help. they gave us vests and sent us
to gather, sort, and hand out food at the train tracks where new families were
arriving and other families were departing for germany to find new life. we
talked to one man who had been traveling for 3 weeks – by boat which
capsized, then buses, vans, anything – to get to europe. we helped him board
his final train to germany where he would meet his family and have a home.
we were both sort of in shock as we took in the scene around us and felt
humbled beyond words. i was barely holding in the tears until we got home
and all of the emotion came out as i called my parents to tell them about it.
before we went to bed, chase reminded me that as i like to say, everything
happens for a reason. he said he thought he knew the reason we ended
up on the wrong train and in salzburg that night. i have to say, i agree.
this is why we travel. this is why we throw ourselves into this world and
out of our comfort zones. it teaches us so much and gives incredible perspective.
we will never forget this night or experience as long as we live.
in honor of our wellcared spotlights, today i want to spotlight a few major
international aid organizations contributing to this crisis, who i think
we all take for granted until we see them in action. what a blessing
to have organizations for our world who come to the center of the
crisis, no questions asked, and lend helping hands. i encourage us
all to be like them and send help, money, prayers, or anything
we can do the people of syria who have seen so much horror
to be able to start over and enjoy the peace they deserve.
some major well-known aiding organizations include the UNHCR,
international red cross, unicef, doctors without borders, oxfam,
save the children, international rescue committee (IRC), care.org,
and more. these organizations are incredible and are doing so much to help.
some smaller organizations i’ve researched to consider donating to include:
• migrant offshore aid station, a charity which runs a fleet of rescue boats to save refugees at sea.
• refugees welcome, a type of “airbnb for refugees” in germany. this nonprofit matches people with spare rooms with refugees in need of housing. if you don’t have a spare bed in germany, you can still donate here.
• karam foundation is a US-based charity focused on educational opportunities for syrian children. they are currently accepting donations for a fund to rebuild schools in syria.
• hand in hand for syria is one of the few organizations that provides direct aid on the ground in syria. this includes clothes, food, water, sanitation and medical assistance to help people to stay in syria instead of fleeing to another country. you can donate on their page on justgiving.com.
• refugee air is a non-profit initiative led by swedish entrepreneurs and humanitarians aimed at enabling refugees to safely travel into the EU. see their website to learn more about this cause.
• shelterbox provides emergency shelter & supplies to families affected by the syrian crisis. they also provide clothing, stoves, and water filters to families in need.
we love this world and all of the beautiful people in it. may we all strive to make it better!