Little Gemini had become a year older when her parents decided to travel to Stuttgart, Germany.
Gemini thought, "I wonder how this vacation turns out. Last time the journey by air to Los Angeles turned out bizarre for me. But I learned a lot then. I am looking forward to this vacation, which I am sure will be full of surprises.”
She asked Mommy, "Are there any surprises during the journey that I need to be aware of? Last time I screwed up everything about airports and flights."
Mommy replied, “You will love to travel by airplane. But the journey is longer. We are going to Stuttgart, Germany to visit old friends. There will be lots of travel by underground trains in Stuttgart city. So be prepared for that.”
"I have never traveled on an underground train", thought Gemini. "I guess it will be fun." She looked forward happily to the journey.
Gemini's parents, Melanie and Emanuel shopped gifts for their friends in Germany during the next few days.
The day they would begin their journey would soon approach, and so Gemini’s parents made sure they took care of everything for their absence of four days in Austin.
Finally, the grand day came. They had packed suitcases and roll-ons. A friend’s van came to pick them up and drop them at the airport. Gemini didn't have anything to carry. She was free, happy, and smiling.
They went through the formalities of the airport and were soon waiting to board the airplane that would take them to Frankfurt.
They boarded the plane with Gemini in the middle. The pilot was an expert because the take-off was smooth. Gemini felt no discomfort.
Meals were served. Gemini finished eating, watched movies, and listened to songs. Somewhere in the middle, she stretched her legs and fell asleep. It was about a 10-hour journey. Emanuel and Melanie were hopeful Gemini would be okay throughout. Seeing her fall asleep, they also dozed off and relaxed.
When Gemini woke up, her parents were already awake and taking coffee from the steward. Gemini chose her favorite pineapple juice.
They had another four hours to kill. Yes, it was a very long journey, and one had to be patient. The parents were happy that Gemini didn’t complain about anything.
She watched funny cartoons and laughed by herself. She reverted to songs and movies. She thought to herself, “This journey is sure long. Wow!” Aloud she asked her Dad, “When will it be time for the plane to land?”
Emanuel happily replied, "You have been doing so well, Gemini. In another hour, we will be landing. Stay cheerful."
Gemini was happy to hear her Dad’s answer. “One hour meant not much time left. I guess I can pass my time here still exploring cartoons, movies, music, and songs." They were great entertainment for her.
Soon the plane produced out its wheels and was fast gliding down, touching the port and moving along at high speed until it slowed down and came to a halt.
The passengers were told to be seated for a while. Then they were allowed to disembark.
Melanie and Emanuel got their roll-ons, and Emanuel caught Gemini by the other hand, and they stepped out of the plane, moving forward.
They looked for their luggage, and after check-up of their documents, they were allowed to pick them up and go downstairs to wait for the train that would take them to Stuttgart. It was Gemini’s first ride on a train, and she was thrilled. As she took her seat along with her parents, she looked out of the window.
There wasn't much to see around, just people with luggage waiting or moving around. As the train started moving, she was surprised that everything was moving backward. He asked her Dad about it. He explained, ”The train is moving forward past all the things as they are. So, it looks like that.” Gemini reflected on her Dad’s words.
After about an hour, the train reached Stuttgart. They were greeted by their German friends, Hans and his wife Suzanne. The German couple had brought in their big van and took their guests, along with their luggage and roll-ons, to their warm and cozy home.
After serving tea and cookies, the couple asked if they were ready to take in dinner. Both Gemini’s parents said they were full but exhausted and would like to fall asleep.
The couple showed them their guest room and served them drinks before they fell asleep. They would wake up in the morning and talk further.
The sun came up, and Melanie was the first to wake up. Emanuel followed soon. They let Gemini sleep on a bit longer.
After the three of them had showered and put on fresh clothes, they all had breakfast together. And they planned where they would like to visit first.
The couple took them to Hauptbahnhof by the underground train. Gemini ran carefree in the large open space of Hauptbahnhof. For too long she felt she remained confined. The open space was so vast that she ran and ran breathlessly.
After she was done, they all visited the shops where Gemini’s parents bought gifts and souvenirs for near and dear ones back in Austin.
Hauptbahnhof was the center of Stuttgart city where everything was available. Restaurants, theatres, post offices, banks, souvenirs, and other necessary items- you name it. After Gemini's parents finished shopping, they thought of going back to the hosts' home, enjoying, and relaxing.
So, Hans and Suzanne led them to the right underground train station. Gemini was busy looking at ad posters on the wall, and when she looked back, she couldn’t find her parents. Did they already leave by train? She started to eye everywhere from her position and started to panic when Suzanne appeared. Gemini asked her, “Where are my parents?”
"Gemini, did they already leave with Hans? I went to renew my train ticket. But I can't believe they have already left!"
Suzanne’s phone was ringing. It was Hans. His voice came in, “Where are you? Is Gemini with you?” Suzanne answered his questions and rebuked him for leaving them like that.
He apologized, saying it was a gruesome mistake on his part not to have noticed. He asked Suzanne to bring Gemini with her to their home. The three of them were heading that direction. Gemini's parents were relieved to know Gemini was with her.
Suzanne and Hans prepared a great lunch for their hosts and had the meals together.
Gemini opted to watch cartoons on TV. Both the couples sat on the porch and talked of old and recent times and also planned for the next day.
According to the German couple, it was a good deal to go by train to Switzerland. So, the men went out again and stopped at the appropriate station to buy train tickets for the next day.
The men had chosen the "The Great Tour of Zurich, Switzerland" package.
The next day, Gemini, along with her parents and the German couple, boarded the train and reached Switzerland to start enjoying the sightseeing experiences of Zurich on a half-day tour. They enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Zurich, visited the neighboring village of Rapperswil, including a castle and rose gardens, and saw striking views of the Swiss Alps.
Gemini's parents took lots of photos of the beautiful scenery, and together with Gemini and the other couple, they had loads of fun.
The whole group reached the hosts’ home in Stuttgart late at night. They had a memorable time but were extremely dog-tired. They all had light snacks and fell fast asleep.
Gemini's family awoke the next morning, refreshed themselves, and got ready to journey back to Austin via Frankfurt.
The German couple took them by their van to Stuttgart train station. Gemini’s family got on the train with all their luggage. The train started moving.
Gemini started missing the German couple she and her family spent time with the last few days. She waved and waved from inside the glass window until they were out of sight. It was an indelible moment, sure to stay in Gemini’s memory for years to come.
Melanie and her little daughter, Gemini fly to Los Angeles. At the airport, something strikes Gemini as bizarre. What is it? Will she be happy again? To read more, click the above link.
© 2022 Rosina S Khan