I had arrived in Salzburg on Saturday. The American's I am staying with, who are on this program also, and I went out for a brew or two. On Sunday, we went out again. Now it is Monday. I have been here for less than three full days. The lot of us (I believe there were eight, including me) went out to a pub called Shamrock's. It was a hopping place for being a Monday and I saw a guy with a "Misfits" tee-shirt on and wanted to see if it was about the show on telly that I enjoy. It is loud and crowded, the live music thumping its way into your body. I finagle my way through the crowd, and once I get to him I ask him what his shirt says. Although I am a wee bit tipsy at this point and forget that I am in a foreign country and do not speak the language. But we understand each other, because as most Europeans, he speaks a fair amount of English. I then realize that no, his shirt is not what I thought it was, but rather a band. By this point he is just so happy that someone has recognized the band he starts to dance around. At one point he even gets down on his knees in praise. I can not in good conscience tell him that I have never heard this band in my life. So away I go, back to my friends for a little while longer. Later that evening we strike up a conversation about everything and nothing. It is around 23:00 or a little after and the buses are about to stop running, so instead of taking a taxi, our group decides to go home. As everyone is filling out, I go to say goodbye to my new friend. I make my way out of the bar, now alone and mostly drunk, I head off to find my friends. I start walking, the ice slick beneath my feet and snow gracing my eyelashes with weight. Hands in my pockets, wrapped around each other trying to stay warm, I still haven't found anybody. It has been a block, then two. I wasn't inside for this long? Where could they be? I'm following the river but I realize that I must have missed the bus stop. I remember this bridge, I believe that there is a bus stop on the other side that crosses back over. I make a turn and follow the walking path that is lined with streetlights. A runner goes past, lost in his own world. As I come back to the main street I see my bus! The only bad part of this is that it isn't stopping. I finally get to where it was suppose to stop and am thankful, I will just wait for the next bus and be home in no time. I look for when the next one is coming and there are no more. The one that passed me was the last bus. Off I go again. I may have to take a taxi, but I haven't passed any recently. I"m starting to get a little worried. I don't know how to walk home. Panic is trying to claw it's way up my throat, but I know that that will not help. I know that I must keep walking. The next bus I see, for they are getting fewer and farther in between, I shall get on and ask the bus driver if he can help me. Minutes and the scenery pass by. Finally I see one. Not thinking to look at the number or destination, I just hop on. I ask the man where the bus is going. He says Polizedirektion, one stop away from where I live! I push my panic down. For now there is no need to worry until I get off the bus. I am the only passenger and the ride is going so much slower than I ever remember it taking. As the stop comes up, the bus gets ready to pull into the garage for the evening. I get off and thank the man profusely. He very possibly saved my life. I get off and now I only have a bus stop and the regular walk home to make. I walk it with pride and a growing sense of satisfaction that I refuse to fully feel until I pull open the door to my dorm. I have made it.
I have accomplished something I never thought I would be able to do. Granted, a lot of it was luck, yet I am still proud. I successfully navigated a foreign city at night, alone while drunk when the last of the buses were running. Stupid? So very much. Dangerous? The though was running through my mind the entire time. A life lesson that could never happen again? Yes. Am I glad that it happened? Completely.
If this had never happened, I may still be to afraid of this city and depending on myself. But now I know, if I ever get lost, just do what I did and don't panic. Don't pull what I would have done a year ago. Keep your head down and keep walking until you can find someone to ask.
Well, that was a bit lengthy, but I think it was a good parable. Tschuss, my friends, and don't do what I have done! Bis Später!