Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Flight to Oktoberfest

"Paradise," this is where the guy at the train station tells me I am going.  I am going to Munich.  He tells me there is no bus to Munich, only a train.

I am privileged to wait in a special line for a ticket to Munich to get to Oktoberfest.  These people are trying to get to the same place because they want to live.

The sense of compassion for Syrian refugees I experienced in Copenhagen and Stockholm is strong in Vienna but tainted with cynicism.  There is a line of refugees that have been waiting days to buy a ticket.  I wait in a special line.

I buy my ticket and meet two girls from Israel who tell me I could have bought a ticket for the bus for twenty five Euros.  My ticket for the train costed one hundred and ten.  It has been a few days since I visited Auschwitz in Poland.  It was horrible there.  I had seen barbed wire fences and started crying.

I am standing in line at 5:30 a.m. trying to return my ticket for an 85% refund.  I want to take the bus.  Last night some guy told me I could come at 5:30 a.m. and refund my ticket.  I had waited in line twenty minutes until some guy in line told me he was an employee and anyone behind him was no longer in line.

Some refugees have been waiting in line for days.

Some refugees came to the hostel I slept at last night and were turned down.

Some of them will sleep on the streets tonight.

I feel like a refugee.

It is 6:15 a.m. and the "special line" hasn't opened yet.  I guess I am taking the train.

Some guy had been talking to me in the "special line" last night.  He was born in Syria but had an Austrian passport.  He wanted to go to Sweden to visit a friend.

Some refugees came to the hostel I slept at last night and were turned down because they didn't have passports.

I will arrive at a hostel in Munich today a day late because of the Syrian refugee crisis.  I am trapped in Vienna because the only train I could have taken is today.  A woman will tell me she didn't get the email I sent saying I would be late because she is busy.  It is Octoberfest.  She is busy.  You can understand she has problems.

I feel like a refugee—a privileged one.

Some of them will sleep on the streets tonight.

I came to Vienna to see Sleeping Cupid and David with the Head of Goliath, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

I want to go to Oktoberfest.

I wanted to go to Budapest, Hungary.  I have never been there.

The trains are closed there because of the Syrian refugee crisis.

The trains have extra security in some European cities.

There is a guy with a pierced eyebrow.  He is security on one of the trains.

I will arrive in a hostel in Munich tomorrow a day late and meet travelers from Australia who will explain how difficult it was to get to Munich from Slovenia.  I tell them I paid one hundred Euros for a train ticket from Vienna.  I had seen two Syrian kids traveling alone in Stockholm and a volunteer was giving them a hug.  I had never seen anything like it.  The travelers from Australia will tell me all of the buses were probably booked.  They will stick up for me at the hostel in Munich.

I saw volunteers in Germany.

I saw a tent with a sign that read, "welcome," in English and Arabic in Passau, Germany.

I am sitting on the train to Munich at nine o' clock in the morning.  Half of the passengers are Germans, wearing traditional German outfits.  Many of hem are already drunk.  The other half are tired and confused refugees.

Some guy started talking to me in Arabic.  He assumed I was Syrian.  He didn't speak English.  

I couldn't understand what he was saying.  He showed me his ticket.  It said, "Passau."  If I didn't tell him that we were at "Passau," I think he would have missed his stop.

Alan Michael