It was summer 2013 and I was itching for a new adventure; longing to explore a place I have not yet explored. After weeks of contemplation, the idea of visiting Vienna sounded more and more romantic. Picturesque buildings, cobble stoned streets, and delightful European cafes were calling my name. Nothing would get in the way of my trip to Vienna, and I mean nothing.
There was a slight problem, however. My friend and I booked our tickets last minute (side note: do not wait last minute to purchase international tickets) and it seemed that Vienna was out of the question. We gathered together and formed a plan B, which then became our plan A. We would fly into Romania and thereafter take a train to Vienna. Perfect. Our plans seemed absolutely perfect.
Fast forward a few weeks ahead and our hearts were swelling with excitement as we got dropped off at the train station in Arad, Romania. As a matter of fact, we felt so confident that we decided to book first class red eye tickets with beds and extra space. We walked into the train and exhaled. A new adventure was brewing. But in the meantime, we would lay our heads down and nap until our arrival. We wanted to make sure we were well rested for an eventful day ahead.
Our trip took a drastic turn when my friend abruptly awaked me. To say she was frantic is an understatement. I felt like everything was hazy, unsure of where I even was anymore. With three different locks on our door, we were gassed and robbed of every penny in our supposedly “safe” rooms. Was I dreaming? How was this possible? Questions were clouding my mind. I opened my wallet only to find nothing in it. I stepped out of my room, angry at this point. I didn’t know what I would say if I saw the robbers, but I was sure I would tell them something. As I walked through the train I located my friend’s purse, tossed into a room, empty.
We arrived in Vienna at precisely 7:30 in the morning, carrying an uneasiness and heaviness with us. How were we to adventure without a dime in our wallets? At this point, we were ready to throw in the towel and fly back home. How could God work in our circumstances we thought? Everything was pointless.
What started out as nightmare turned into the best adventure possible, as we were able to watch the Lord mysteriously bless us. He brought new friends into our lives that felt compelled to care for us through out our time in Vienna. But we still felt uncomfortable and ashamed. Believe me, it was the hardest thing to feel immobile, to only have the ability to utter a simple thank you. The Lord was working on our hearts. In the midst of the adventure and the newness, God was teaching us something new, whispering to our hearts that we cannot merely give back what we have been given. We cannot buy the Lord and his goodness. Being in such a vulnerable place made our time in Vienna that much more beautiful.
We felt undeserving as we walked through out the quaint city and enjoyed a coffee from Julius Meinl or when our wide eyes soaked in the beauty of Schonbrunn Castle and Stephansdom. Vienna was unforgettable.
So, what can you take away from our experience?
1. Buy your international tickets in a timely manner, preferably 8 weeks in advance.
2. Wear a fanny pack (this is serious) if you are taking a train anywhere in Europe. Or guard your valuables and always keep them in sight.
3. Always be aware of your surroundings.
4. Travel during daylight, especially if you are unfamiliar with the city.
5. Enjoy the adventure (yes, that means the ups as well as the downs). The Lord is captivating, graceful, and his moments of teaching will never cease to amaze you.