Our train from Zurich to Salzburg stopped unexpectedly on the 16th at a small place called Nendeln to allow another train to pass. Traveling on yet another train, from Salzburg to Munich on the 18th, we came to a long and mysterious halt at a place called Freilassing. Both unscheduled stops held more significance than I could have imagined.
On the 16th, we had just pulled out of Buchs, in Switzerland. I remember Buchs for a couple of reasons. It was described over the train’s audio system as “the border town of Buchs.” But what border? There could be only one possibility, I thought. Since our next scheduled stop was in Feldkirch, Germany, the answer seemed clear.
The second thing I remember about Buchs is the mural of Elvis Presley on the wall of a barn. If you are seated on the left side of the train you can not miss it. There he is, the King, dressed in white, legs stretched wide as he performs endlessly with a guitar.
Less than 10 minutes later, we came to the seemingly meaningless stop at Nendeln.
It was not until later that day that I began to wonder how close we had come to the little country of Liechtenstein. Nebra and I had originally tried to schedule one of our trip segments through Liechtenstein but had given up. We thought nothing of it when we rearranged our trip from Bern. Instead of going back through Munich, we would take a direct route straight to Salzburg.
With a small amount of research I discovered that between the scheduled stops of Buchs and Feldkirch was, lo and behold, Liechtenstein and that Nendelm was a community in that country. So, not only had we zipped through Liechtenstein at fast speeds but we had actually stopped there!
On the 18th headed to Munich, we came to a sudden stop at Freilassing, a suburb of the Austrian city of Salzburg but located in Germany. In due time a strange announcement came to our ears, first in undecipherable German and finally in English. A “short delay” because:
“A man jumping in train.”
The first thought was a humorous one. Why would a train stop for someone who was doing calisthenics in one of the coaches? But of course that was not the meaning. I figured it was an attempted suicide, that a man had probably leaped into the train’s path. But we never knew for sure. The only thing for real was that the delay took an ungodly 80 minutes. It had to be something serious.
I looked the next day in Munich for any indication of a suicide at Freilassing but found nothing. One of life’s mysteries that will never be known, I suppose.
Anyway, unscheduled stops can sometimes be very interesting and perhaps tragic.