Seminar Bound: Slovenian volunteers embark on a rail odyssey to Germany

Exploring new horizons through travel, education, and partnership

In the realm of travel, "it's often the unexpected twists and turns that paint the most vivid memories". Our Slovenian volunteers had surely taken this proverb to heart. As train tracks wound through picturesque landscapes and historic towns, their voyage became a lesson in and of itself. Yet, this story didn't stop at the tracks. These volunteers, joined by their German counterparts, would soon venture across the North Sea, walking from Neuwerk to Cuxhaven. In this narrative, we'll explore how these literal and metaphorical detours sparked friendships, imparted lessons, and left us all with a unique, unforgettable adventure. Living up to the name of the project Travel Different For Future they truly travelled far more "differently" than they have ever travelled before.

Georgina Ivanovska

Georgina Ivanovska is a university student and volunteer for the 'Travel Different for Future' project, where she is responsible for managing social media platforms and occasionally contributing to creative writing.

They missed their connection to Hannover, where the German group awaited their arrival. Instead of frustration, they chose to see it as an opportunity to explore the vibrant city of Munich and enjoy an unplanned stay at Eden Wolf Hotel and night out, generously provided by the railway.

It all began one morning at the Ljubljana train station, where the volunteers from Hostelling International Slovenia gathered at a cosy little café. Excitement buzzed in the air as they prepared to board the train that would take them to their partners in Germany for a much-anticipated seminar. The atmosphere was charged with excitement, friendships rekindled, and the promise of new experiences on the horizon.

As they made their way to the train platforms, they received the first taste of the unpredictable. A delay announcement echoed through the station, throwing their plans into disarray. With a shrug and a shared laugh, they settled in to wait, knowing that travel sometimes demands patience.

Finally, the moment arrived to board the train, and they found themselves met with another twist—the whole train was double-booked. It was a moment of collective confusion and concern. How could they proceed when every seat appeared to belong to two passengers?

As the train journeyed on, the volunteers realised that they were sharing their personal space, navigating cramped quarters and occasional laughter as they got to know their unplanned seatmates. The situation brought an unexpected camaraderie, a reminder that even in the chaos, connections can emerge.

Their next challenge came as the train pulled into Villach, Austria. Amidst the hustle and bustle of departure, one volunteer realised she had left her tablet behind on the train. Despair washed over her, but a conductor, despite a language barrier, came to the rescue. The tablet was found and safely returned, proving that kindness knows no borders.

Slovenian volunteers embark on a rail odyssey to Germany

However, their journey was far from over. Due to overcrowding, only one of them managed to board the replacement bus to overcome the double-booked train and continue their journey. The rest were given new tickets for another train departing from Villach later, leaving them temporarily separated from their companions. It was an unexpected detour, but they embraced it with resilience and hope.

After patiently waiting for their new train, they finally reunited at Munich. But fate had one more surprise in store for them. They missed their connection to Hannover, where the German group awaited their arrival. Instead of frustration, they chose to see it as an opportunity to explore the vibrant city of Munich and enjoy an unplanned stay at Eden Wolf Hotel and night out, generously provided by the railway.

The following day, their journey resumed as they arrived in Hannover and met with the German team leader, who would guide them to their destination in Burgdorf. They may have been a day late, but they had finally made it. The small town welcomed them with open arms, and they set about exploring its charming streets and the local "castle", a place of significance for the residents, even if some called it just a fancy old house.

During their stay in Burgdorf, they took trips to Hannover, exploring its attractions such as the Queen’s gardens and visiting their partner organisation Janun. They couldn't pass up the opportunity to experience a local pub and immerse themselves in the local culture.

Slovenian volunteers embark on a rail odyssey to Germany

After three eventful days, the Slovenian volunteers together with their German counterparts departed on a ferry journey to Neuwerk. The scenery was breathtaking, with sightings of numerous birds, seals, and perhaps even a glimpse of a whale's fin. The island greeted them with calm, clear weather, and their belongings were transported by tractors in banana boxes—a sight that added to the island's uniqueness.

Their five days on the island were filled with adventure. They explored the island and the mudflats surrounding it when the tide was low, searched for seashells, climbed the lighthouse, and indulged in bird watching. Amidst these activities, they diligently completed their project work, planned workshops, and sparked new ideas through collaboration.

Petting the island's resident horses, which are gentle creatures, was a charming distraction. Before departing, they ensured the youth house they had stayed in was left in pristine condition—a testament to their dedication and responsibility.

Slovenian volunteers embark on a rail odyssey to Germany

Leaving the island required a unique journey—walking on the sea. With the tide low, they navigated the mudflats with ease following the set markers, walking 10 kilometres until they reached the mainland beaches. Halfway across, they donned shoes to protect their feet from shell clusters and rocks.

Arriving on the mainland, they embarked on a bus ride to the train station. Despite the crowded bus, a sense of camaraderie prevailed, with passengers helping each other out. Their spirit shone through in even the most challenging situations.

Back in Hannover, they stayed with local German volunteers, reuniting the next morning for further project work, evaluations, and a sustainable, unconventional tour of the city. As the seminar neared its end, the Slovenian volunteers knew it was time to bid farewell and return home. Early the next morning, they boarded a train, but their train drama wasn't over quite yet.

Unexpected trouble on the tracks forced the train to go back and forth, disrupting their journey. Getting a sense of déjà vu, instead of spending another night in Munich, they decided to take a bus the rest of the way to Ljubljana, concluding their adventure with a memorable bus ride filled with happy faces.

And so, their seminar journey came to an end, saddening the group, but the memories of twists, turns, and newfound friendships would forever remain with all the volunteers. As they scattered to their respective destinations, they carried with them not only the knowledge gained, but also the enduring bonds forged amidst the chaos of an unforgettable journey.

Slovenian volunteers embark on a rail odyssey to Germany

Would you be willing to take part? Even though this seminar has ended, the volunteers eagerly anticipate the next adventure that life has in store. Hearts filled with shared experiences and memories forged along this winding path, they are ready to face future travels. Their resilience in dealing with the unpredictability of travel has taught them that every twist and turn can lead to unexpected opportunities and deeper connections. They've come to cherish not just the destinations, but also the journeys themselves, with all their surprises. So, as they bid farewell to one adventure, they do so with excitement for what lies ahead, knowing that the bonds they've formed and the lessons they've learned will continue to shape their future explorations. They are ready to live up to the name of their project "Travel Different For Future," with each new journey promising a different and unique experience. This is your chance to be a part of the team and experience for yourselves just how "differently" you can travel.