They decided to take a tour of Europe. Today, neither of the two friends can remember why, but looking back it was a great idea. Christmas in Rome, New Years in Paris and just a few cities in between. One day in December 1997 they loaded their easy-to-carry luggage onto a plane and took off for Paris with their Eurail passes grasped in their hands.
Landing early in the morning in Paris was part of the plan. To start the trip properly, they needed to get on a train to Zürich as soon as possible. Paul was a quick study and learned how to read the train schedule right away. Tracy was thankful. Her brain wasn’t firing very well. Although both were extremely tired after a long economy flight, energy was found to interpret French and walk to the main train station in the airport. Soon they were traveling on the track towards Switzerland.
Paul and Tracy had never been on the trains in Europe. They observed where their luggage went, just inside the doors. Tracy had a difficult time dropping it off and walking away from it. Don’t people steal it? The airports yell over their intercom about keeping your luggage with you but on the train, you just leave it? Since Paul didn’t verbalize any concern she let it go but kept one eye on it at all times.
Trains come in different forms across Europe, they would learn, and this one had rows of seats out in one cabin. Some in several rows facing the direction of travel and then some in groups of 4 around a table where one could play games and talk to your riding companions more easily. Some seats were reserved – something they did not know was possible – so after finding two available seats, they dropped down and immediately began to pull on levers, open pockets, read placards and determine how to make the most of their ride. Both were ecstatic to see that the seats reclined! The blanket of jet lag engulfed their mind and bodies and sleep was something greatly desired. Paul leaned back, put his head back with a sigh, slid his fingers over the end of the armrest where the lever was to recline the seats. A strong pull with his fingers, a push with his back and back the seat flew … about one inch! In a sleep depraved state, both began to laugh uncontrollably as the realization came about that sleep would have to take place sitting nearly straight up.
The camcorder was very popular at the time and Tracy had brought one along. The moment was memorialized on tape, while laughing during the entire filming of the momentous event. Soon, they would arrive in Zürich.
To be continued…