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Next Stop: A Dark, Abandoned Train Station

Dear Savvy Traveler,

It was the summer of 1997. I was traveling with my brother and sister-in-law through France and Spain. We were heading back to France on a dying train from Madrid so we could board a noon flight the next day back to the US. The train began moving slower and slower and finally limped over the border into France VERY LATE -- too late for us to make our connection.

The crippled train came to a stop. The passengers were herded off and directed across the tracks to a dark, abandoned train station. Confusion ensued. Finally we were told that we would be spending the night in the station, and a train would pick us up in the morning. But the clincher was that we had to wait in line to buy more train tickets. Where did the line begin? Who knew? My brother apparently.

He woke me from a fitful sleep on a gouged wooden table in a dark, graffiti-covered corner of the train station, amidst languages I had never heard before. He told me to stand in line with a crowd of other people while he stood where HE thought the line would begin the next morning. Many surreal hours later, the window opened where my brother was standing. Although he was the first in line, he was pushed and shoved out of the way. He fought his way back into line and bought us new tickets. We made the train, missed the plane, and then finally flew home first class the next day with plenty of memories to laugh about later.




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