From Nice, we had the longest day of traveling yet- nearly 15 hours of trains and layovers from Nice back to Cologne, Germany. We were headed back to stay with my mom’s friend Rosi for a night or two, to wash our clothes, and to have someone make us breakfast and dinner. Basically we just got to be taken care of for a while. We stayed two nights and one day, which we spent wandering around Cologne again. This time, however, we found a Dunkin Donuts. A Dunkin Donuts!!! I sort of screamed when I saw it, which sort of embarrassed Maura, but we’ll never see any of those people in Cologne again, so I really don’t care. And we got iced coffee. Reading back over my words, I apparently really enjoy making it seem as though I was starving for the comfort of home. I recognize that my traveling lifestyle was really not that difficult, just so you don’t think I am an entirely pampered spoiled and sheltered American college student.

After partaking in the hospitality of Rosi and Richard, we said auf wiedersehn and boarded another train- this time bound for Brussels! We prebooked another budget hotel in Brussels, so we had that piece of mind settled, plus, I had a friend from high school, Tim Barry, whose Dad works for NATO and who was going to one of the DODDS (Department of Defense Dependent Schools) that the US has set up all over Europe. Tim had kindly agreed to meet us and give us a tour of the city that evening.

But before we could get to the city itself, we had another train ride ahead of us. Half of it was filled with football fans going to a Sunday match, and the second half was the train ride of Eric Ericcson. Ericsson was an engineer who worked for Sony Ericcson, as we thus named him for on account of the fact that we never found out his real name. He approached Maura and me in the train station, very friendly and very enthusiastic, so much so, in fact, that we were initially rather hesitant, but he turned out to be an absolutely amazing person to talk to. He was originally from Nigeria, had grown up and worked in London, and was in the process of moving to Texas. He treated Maura and I like we were the most intelligent people he’d ever met, and he talked to us, really really talked to us, about everything from Texas gun policy to Obama’s health care reform to meeting new people, to what being American really meant, and so much more. That was one of the most interesting hours I have ever spent. Maura and I got off the train and just sort of looked at each other- what was there really to say to that? I wish I could describe it better here in words, but unfortunately it was an experience that was just that, an experience. I think he was one of those once in a lifetime people that you meet, and that make you see the world just a little different. We never found out his name, but it doesn’t really matter, I suppose. We’ll never see him again, but I have a feeling that we will also never forget him.