So my family and another decide to go skiing in Austria for a week (this was 2007 I think). My family's journey begins with a flight from Burlington, VT to LGA. At LGA, we have to switch terminals to get our International flight. We decide we can walk to the terminal since it is the next one over and the bus runs in the opposite direction. Easy enough, except for the construction that has removed the sidewalk. At the time, I thought this part of the trip was kind of sucky. From LGA we fly to Zurich. We are now 8 strong and have if I remember correctly 13 bags including two ski bags. In Zurich we haul everything down two levels to the Airport train station and hop the train to Zurich Central Station. In Zurich Central Station we move everything to the train to Langen am Arlberg. Perfect, we settle down for the ride. 3 hours later, we are nearing the station and start securing all of our stuff to be ready to get off the train. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12...... uh-oh..... 12 bags are on the train. We exit the train and begin weighing our options. I decide I am going back for the bag which apparently contain all of the kids' clothes and all of my wife's clothes. Everybody loads into the taxi van and heads to Lech except for me.
I take the next train back to Zurich. All I know is what time we got on the train at the airport and which track it came in on. I am hoping to find this train and our missing bag. 3 hours later I reach Zurich for the second time. I start exploring the station and find the lost and found. It isn't too hard to find someone who speaks English and he takes me to the lost and found. No dice. I find a schedule and determine which train we were actually on and ask them where that train goes and can we have someone check it. Well, we eventually find that the train went a few hours beyond Zurich to the city of Biel. It is now Friday afternoon, and if I hurry I can take the last train to Biel. If I don't intercept the bag (which may or may not have been taken off the train in Biel), it will be sent to the central lost and found in Geneva, and nobody will even be able to think about touching it until Monday and then it will be a few days to ship it back to Zurich, how it would get from there to Lech remained a mystery. So with minutes to spare I get on the train to Biel. I'm wearing boatshoes, khakis and a Marmot windstopper fleece. I have my wallet, some Swiss Francs, and a Motorola Razr phone that won't work unless I can get a new SIM card for it. From what I could gather, Biel is to Zurich as New Jersey is to NYC. I was riding the commuter train with everyone dressed in their business clothes and going home for the weekend.
After poking around Biel for a few minutes, I find the lost and found guy. He takes me back in the cage. Jackpot! There it is! So I now have this Samsonite wheeled bag. I take the next train back to Zurich, feeling like things are going pretty well. In Zurich I will be able to get the new SIM, and a Wienerschnitzel before hopping the next train back to Austria. I've been awake for about 30 hours now.
The train pulls into Zurich Central Station and I step out into what appears to be a rave! Pretty much everybody in the station looks like they came from a punk rock concert in Britain in 1985! OK, whatever, time to get my SIM card. Not so fast, all of the stores and kiosks are closed. I search and search and can't find anything. Nor can I find a money changer to give me any Euros. I do find some hot dogs that have been ingeniously stuffed inside pretzels. That's good since the last thing I ate was on the plane. It's all good though because I have the bag and a ticket to Langen and the next morning I will be skiing.
So now I hop on the train. I'm kind of expecting that there will be lots of other skiers on the train, but strangely, there are none. Whatever. Maybe I nod off a little. Soon enough, the train pulls into Langen am Arlberg. It's about 11:30 and it's been exactly 12 hours since I was last here. I jump off the train and look around. I am literally the only person here. Not one other soul got off the train, and there are no workers of any kind in the station. Whatever, I walk over to the taxi stand. There are no taxis. OK........... now what. The station is an open structure, and apart from the bathrooms, there is not a heated enclosed room that I can enter. The temperature is hovering somewhere around freezing. The roads are wet, so let's just say it's 33 degrees. I can't use my cell phone. There is a payphone, but I am now in the Eurozone and I have no Euros at all. There are three cards for taxi companies tacked up above the phone. I start desperately searching for a quarter to make a call with. I'm crawling around and looking everywhere. Jackpot again! I find a coin in the return slot in the luggage cart machine. Now I'll just call a taxi. Oh... it takes two quarters. Fuck.
So I guess I'll hitchhike. The train station is on the main road to the Arlberg Pass, but with the new tunnel, very little traffic passes by anymore. Like none. After about 15 minutes a car stops. Some seriously drunk guys get out to piss, they are going the wrong way, and as desperate as I am, I'm not sure I would have wanted a ride from them anyway. They either do not or cannot speak English, but I do manage to get another quarter from them. Back in business, it's now 12:30, so I call the first taxi company. It rings and rings and nobody ever picks up. I hang up, and my quarters go back to the return slot. I try the next company. It rings three times, then the answering machine picks up. Clink, clink, my quarters are gone. Noooooooo!!!!!!
Shivering, I sit down on the wet curb with my Samsonite bag and weigh my options. Sleep in the bathroom until morning? Keep hoping for a ride? Walk? It's only about 10 miles, I could make it by morning and at least I'd warm up. I extend the handle on the sacred Samsonite, turn right and start to walk up the glistening road toward the Arlberg Pass. From there it'll be left onto the Flexen Pass where I will probably be killed walking in the tunnel in my black jacket. I walk through Langen hoping that I'll find a bar or something that is open. There is nothing. I pass through the edge of town and into the darkness. It is a clear night and on both sides I can see the white peaks of the Austrian Alps looming above me. I hear another car coming, I turn and put out my thumb. I see a blue Mercedes-Benz Vito van slowing down. He stops and the door opens. I hear something like this blasting from his speakers.
He says he will give me a ride to Lech!!!! He is returning from alight of partying somewhere and doesn't seem really sober, but whatever, I'm cold and don't even know how long I've been awake. It turns out that he runs the gas station in Zurs, so he was going my way anyhow, and it's not a big detour to Lech. Twenty minutes later, we roll into Lech. Only thing is, we aren't staying in Lech itself, we are in Oberlech which is accessed only by a tram, and apparently, the tram closes at 11 PM. Well, I ask him, can we go up the service road. We try, but the way is blocked by a big gate. I give him all of my CHF and he drives home to Zurs. Only one thing to do now - get to that hotel. I can see the lights of Oberlech above me, so I step onto the piste (it must be below freezing now because they are making snow) and start walking in my tractionless boat shoes. The Samsonite bag immediately flips over and switches from a roller to a dragger. I alternately drag, carry and fall my way up the piste for 1,000 vertical feet or so until I reach the town. I am now facing my final problem. I have no idea of where the hotel is. None, and there is nothing open. It's about 2 or 3 in the morning. I begin a rudimentary sort of grid search trudging through the snow looking for the hotel and finally find some aid in the form of foreign (to Austria) kitchen workers who are knocking off for the night. After much consultation in a multitude of languages, they think they know where I should go. They point me in pretty much the right direction and in a few more minutes I find the hotel. The door is locked, but thankfully, my wife has propped open side door and I gain access. She has done the same with the door to our room.
Ski Trip not ruined, so maybe this is the wrong thread.
PS - there was no snow at all the whole week we were there, and it dumped at home.