This is the story about that one time I rode a train without a ticket.
Nearly a year ago, Husband and I woke up early one Saturday morning and decided to head out of town. Our destination? Nuremberg. The town of Nuremberg claims to host the original Christmas market in all of Germany. We were in the Christmas spirit and wanted to see what all the talk was about.
We rode our local S-bahn (similar to the Dart Rail or L-Train) into the central train station, Hauptbahnhof. This is the main station that trains depart and arrive into Munich. There on the platform, we purchased a Bayern ticket good for any train within the state of Bavaria.
Looking up at the massive departure board, we saw a train was leaving for Nuremberg in just minutes. We hustled it all the way to the track and boarded the waiting ICE train.
With empty seats to spare, we quickly found a place to sit together. Husband and I nestled into the plush seats and I was in comfort heaven. I couldn't believe our 25 Euro ticket got us such a nice space for the journey. It was sooo nice!
Then a light-bulb went off.
Sitting there in a clean train, in possibly the most comfortable transportation seats known to man, my mind began to think "This is too good to be true." Glancing at the Bayern ticket, I squinted towards the bottom and read the fine print. "For use of regional trains only."
Panicked, I questioned Husband, "Is an ICE train a regional train?" Not knowing and telling me to sit tight, Husband got up to find out if where we were was okay. With just a couple of minutes until departure, I watched Husband walk down the aisle and exit the train. My fears worsened, the what-ifs were running wild, and panic was worsening by the second.
I watched outside the window as Husband spoke with an official looking women directing people on the platform. Trying to decipher what was happening, searching for clues, and failing miserably at reading lips in German, I just couldn't tell what she was explaining to Husband.
Husband returned on board and made his way towards our row with his eyebrows raised. "We gotta go." he exclaimed when he reached our comfy seats. We both scrambled to gather our belongings and stood up to hurry out of there.
Right as we raised to leave, a beeping sound occurred, a hiss whispered, and the doors sternly shut. There was a clanking noise and I immediately knew we were not going anywhere. The doors had locked. We frantically tried to reopen the doors but it was no use.
As the train slowly pulled away from Hauptbahnhof, my heart sank. Here we are in a foreign country breaking the law. The next stop was 45 minutes away. Those were the longest minutes of my life. Every scenario played out in my head on what would happen to us, how large of a fine we would be issued, would our passports be confiscated, and the effects of our quickly dwindling Christmas budget.
Sitting there feeling awful did not make for a pleasant journey. I stared at the clock watching every minute tick by just wanting to arrive at the next train station as quickly as possible. With just 10 minutes left until the next stop, the same official lady from the platform walked down the aisle checking tickets. As she neared our row, I got more and more nervous. We started gathering our things once more in preparation for the next stop.
Then a miraculous thing happened...when the ticket official finished checking tickets on the row behind our seats, she gave us a glance and did a sharp pivot heading in the opposite direction.
Breathing at ease and slowly relaxing, we were able to exit the train at the next stop without a confrontation. At the stop,
we were able to board the correct regional train and finally made our way to Nuremberg. In seats a little less comfortable of course!