Amy and her husband.
This week's travel story winner is Amy Paterson, talking of her train ride to Lisbon, which was her ride to destiny.
On my grand European jaunt as a backpacker, I decided to do things differently, and I took a ferry from Plymouth, England to Spain rather than go overland, and I continued on a train to Lisbon, Portugal.
After a several hour bus trip from London to Plymouth, I boarded the 24-hour ferry, which crossed the Atlantic and delivered me to Santander. I proceeded directly to the train station and boarded a train to Lisbon, with a transfer in Valladolid.
As the train neared my transfer stop, others were preparing their bags and packages to get off as well, so I knew it must be close. I was standing near the exit with my things. The train stopped at a station named 'Valladolid Universidad', and seeing the name of what I thought to be my station, I jumped off. No one else got off, but they looked at me funny. A quick glance around showed me that this couldn't be the right place; only a platform without even a station office, and no buildings in the vicinity, just a dirt road.
As the reality sunk into my brain (after being in transit for more than 30 hours), I wanted to jump back on the train before the doors closed, with a huge "NOOOooooOOOOooo!" running through my brain. But I missed it. I sat on the platform and wondered what to do... I opened my bottle of duty-free from the ferry trip and took a few swigs and smoked a ciggie. There was no civilisation in the near vicinity and dusk was approaching, and if I missed my transfer to Lisbon I would be stuck.
Although there were no station employees, I found a timetable posted on the wall. According to my reading of it, the last train of the day came an hour later. I sat down and cursed and prayed and smoked and hoped that train came. It did. I almost kissed the conductor when he came to look at my ticket.
I ended up making my connection to Lisbon several hours later, and slept for a long, long time. As it turns out, I met a man in the youth hostel who is now my husband! Good thing I caught that train.
By Amy Paterson.