The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ MenGang aft agley,– Robert Burns
Yeah, we figured that out early on in our European trip. Some details:
The plan was to get by with what we could tote, and that meant a couple of airline bags and two backpacks, one of which was for the computer. Vis, Barbara with her airline bag (from a previous trip).
It was a nice roll-around that had stood service in multiple trips to foreign lands. Not so much this time.
Not shown, mine is of reasonable size, and I never had any trouble hoisting it up a ramp or aboard a train. Barbara suggested we switch off, and I wound up in charge of the four-wheeler. And there it went. San Antonio to Brussels via American and British Airways. No problem trundling it to and from the hotels. Part of our plan was to book only hotels close to the train station (i.e., less than a mile). Not foreseen, however, was the nature of European walkways.
To be sure, smooth concrete is anathema in these burgs. Trundling the four-wheeler took some care, but still I could hear the cobblestones eating at the plastic wheels. I was afraid to look.
So it went: Brussels to and from the B&B and the train station. Likewise Amsterdam. By the time I was dragging Barbara’s bag to Hotel Domstern in Cologne (Köln) it was definitely complaining. “What’s that noise?” she insisted. I told her it was likely one of the four wheels had given up the ghost. Arriving at our room an examination revealed the awful tragedy. The bad hag suffered one it four wheels shredded. This less than a week into a month-long trip. Some action was required.
Google to the rescue. We looked for baggage repair places, and there were some nearby. One was on Hohe Strasse. We went.
We searched. Inspiration struck. Ask some of the locals. It turns out more people speak English in Cologne than speak English in San Antonio. More than one suggested, “Kufhuff” or something like that. Nobody seemed to know how to pronounce it. This was getting to be discouraging.
We passed a place selling discount luggage. No, they didn’t do repairs, but they had hard case luggage. €40 for the size we needed. Seemed to be too good to be true. Looked marginally robust. We continued. We found another place, one that sold upscale luggage. They did not sell nor repair the brand we had. Prices bumped up next to €500. We decided to keep looking. We found Galleria Kauffhof. Yes, they had a luggage department. €500. We decided the discount store was looking pretty good, and we returned to make a deal.
We brought along the broken four-wheeler to ensure we got the appropriate size. A really nice thing about shopping in Europe is the displayed price includes all taxes. I shelled out a €50 note and got €10 in change. They had no means of disposing of the broken bag, so we took it back to the hotel.
Satisfied with our purchase, we still needed to dispose of the broken bag. The hotel staff were helpful. Set it outside the door on the sidewalk. Nature would take care of the matter. Sure enough, the next time we looked it was gone. Where to remains a mystery to this day.
But there remained concern regarding the travel worthiness of our purchase. Barbara was sure it would require a strap around it to ensure it would survive airline handling. It was off on another adventure, and this time we returned to Kauffhof. Yes, their excellent baggage department sold straps, and I plunked down a €10 bill and got a one-cent coin in change.
In total, it was a tragedy averted. The new bag, with its strap for safety, is now back home in San Antonio. It’s going to make the trip to Italy in October. Stand by for further adventures of the bag from Cologne.