The worldwide Augustana College experience

Bizarre Occurences

This isn’t the update with the castle adventure (that’s currently in the works, so watch out for it!).  However, this weekend has been more than interesting.

It’s been absolutely bizarre.

Sunday wasn’t that important. Nothing too special except homework and afternoon tea with Missie. But Saturday is the important day here.

On Saturday Missie and I wanted to bike back to that lovely, little town called Wörltiz. Remember that journey? It was way back in August, and my camera died shortly after we had gotten there. Anyway, Missie and I wanted to see the garden in Wörlitz during the fall. So we met at the Leucorea and started biking east on the Elbe bike trail. But the garden wouldn’t be the highlight of our day. Not in the slightest.

We were leisurely biking, chatting lightly, occasionally bursting out into song or stopping for a photo-op until we were going up this slight incine, and I pedaled so hard that the back wheel, chain and pedals broke apart from the seat, handle bars and the front wheel of my bike. My first emotion was shock. My second was realization: we were closer to Wörlitz than Wittenberg (the total distance between the two is 13 miles). I apologized to Missie, who said it was okay and that she had a feeling that something like this would happen to one of us. We had already biked an hour, so we figured we had another hour to go in order to get to Wörlitz on foot. Luckily my bike was still attached, but the pedals were too close to the ground in order for me to pedal efficiently. So Missie and I walked. We saw many fields. We even heard some horns playing in the distance, which was really cool, though we had no idea why. Only in Germany, right?

It was fine and worth it, since we found the china bistro where we had eaten the first time coming to this quaint, little town. After lunch, we were cold, so we parked our bikes and walked into the garden of Wörlitz and found a patch of grass and sat there in the sunlight. Missie and I just relaxed for a bit before wandering around the park. The trees weren’t as colorful as we hoped, but we still took some pretty neat pictures.

We then decided it was time to start walking north to Coswig (opposed to west to Wittenberg), so we could catch the ferry to take us across to Coswig and then take a train there to Wittenberg for only a few Euro. We had taken this route way back in August. So we started, receiving many stares, since we were two girls walking with our bikes. We (as Missie would say) happened upon this hill, so we rode down it. Unable to ride any further (remember, I couldn’t pedal), Missie and I stopped. And to our right, we heard this obnoxious mooing.

And then we looked and saw wagons and horses in front of a field with these massive cows. Bewildered, we parked our bikes and joined the crowd. There were many people watching the field with the cows. Then we saw men in, and this is how I describe it, in colonial dress. With horns.

Missie turned to me and said, “These must have been the people who were playing the horns earlier on our way here!”

And indeed, they were!

We watched for another moment, and we saw two horse riders appear, and they were riding towards the crowd of people. Once they both “finished” riding or racing or whatever they were doing, the band of horn players began to play. Missie and I took a few pictures, and we were giddy with excitement and bafflement. Why was this event taking place? Why were there so many people there? What did possessing wagons and horses (plus the racing horses) have to do with anything?

We never really found out. But as we were thinking about going, we heard barking. All of a sudden, an entire heard of dogs–I think beagles of some kind–came racing jovially towards the finish. Behind them was an entire group of horses and their riders. Once again, the horns played on the successful arrival of the horses and dogs. Bystanders then began to greet the jockeys and the dogs were rounded up in a circle. Missie and I left with more questions than answers, but we were glad that we “happened upon” this peculiar event.

And so we had another 4 kilometers (about 2 miles) to go until we got to the ferry, which would take us across the Elbe and into Coswig, where we could hop on a train back to Wittenberg.

The road was cobblestone went from fields to forest, and only a few cars and bikers passed us by in both directions. Missie and I chatted merrily, still capricious about finding the horses, cows and dogs.

All of a sudden, a car stopped next to us, and a German family began speaking with us. They asked us where we were going. We said Coswig then Wittenberg. They said they were on their way to Berlin. They wanted to know if there were any bridges nearby. We told them about the ferry. They said that the ferry wasn’t there. My heart jolted. What did they mean, it wasn’t there? It had to be! It was the only way to cross that river for miles, probably. The family told us there were a couple men by the ferry landing with whom we could speak. They wished us luck and drove off.

Missie and I exchanged a look. Did they mean what I thought they meant? Was there really no ferry? Had we just walked from Wörltiz almost four miles in the opposite direction from Wittenberg?

Missie and I hurried our pace. We found two male bikers, who were looking at a map and had a cell phone. We went up to the hotel/restaurant to see if it were open. And it wasn’t. No worker was around. There were two parked cars and an RV, but no owners were in sight. And there was no ferry in view, either. We were stranded with my broken bike and Missie’s bad knee. And the sun was setting–fast. Then the other bikers intercepted us. They asked us where we were going. We told them Coswig then to Wittenberg.

Then something absolutely glorious happened.

The two bikers were heading towards Wittenberg, too! I could barely believe it!

They discovered Missie and I were America, so, of course, they spoke to us in English. But they were father and son biking the extensive Elbe trail and in Wittenberg was their hotel for the night. We came to the conclusion that there was no ferry whatsoever, and that we needed a taxi to get back to Wittenberg. The son tried calling a taxi in Wörlitz, and for the longest time, no one answered.

Then the owners of the RV came back on their bikes. They greeted us and the two bikers explained the lack of ferry transportation and my broken bike. The RV couple had pity on all four of us. The son biker had finally secured a taxi big enough for four passengers and their bikes. And the couple invited us to the RV for some drinks. With a whiskey in hand, Missie and I prosted the group. It was really neat, conversing in half German, half English outside a parked RV in front of a closed hotel and ferry landing.

The taxi came a little while later and I finally made it home.

Only to discover that, after explaining this entire story in German to my host parents, Anke and Dirk had stayed at that same hotel by the ferry landing the previous night (they were the last customers of the season). And Missie and I had missed Dirk by an hour.

Life, sometimes, is completely bizarre.

And, looking back, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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