Wherefore the hell art thou going, Romeo?

Next time this happens will be in 2026

Next time this happens will be in 2026

   Every seven years there is a special dance performed during Germany's version of Mardi Gras day. It's called, in English, the Coopers Dance. It commemorates a celebration staged by Munich’s barrel makers following the city's deadly bout with the Black Plague back in 1517. The dance was designed to give the plague's survivors something to smile about again. I guess, for the average  Munchener in 1517, if the barrel makers were dancing happily in the streets, it meant they were making barrels again, and that meant the brewers were making beer again.

A sense of desolation greeted us in Brennero

A sense of desolation greeted us in Brennero

   No one knows for certain why the coopers perform this special dance once only every seven years. That same no one also wouldn't have a clue how it was that Carol and I managed to find ourselves in Munich on the very day the coopers would be high stepping for the first time since 2012. Or for that matter, how we showed up in Munich in time for the city's Mardi Gras, when our plans had all along been to be in Rome - where that city would be celebrating nothing exciting, like electing a pope or reenacting gladiatorial contests in the Colosseum.

"That which we call a pizza  By any other word would smell as sweet..."

"That which we call a pizza

By any other word would smell as sweet..."

   I once described myself as Magoo-like when it came to my solo travels, and it seems like that dubious compass will continue to guide me through companion travel, at least until Carol realizes my compass is more like a gyroscope off its kilter. That may have already occurred.

   When I bought our train tickets to Italy, I bought them for only as far as Brennero at the Austrian and Italian border. We were actually going on to Verona, presumably in time - given my evident innate sense of timing - to stop Romeo from guzzling the poison. In Brennero I would activate our Eurail Pass, and then board the next train out of Brennero onto Verona.

   What I didn't realize was that the next train to Brennero was the one we were already on. What's more, I'd failed to figure that the Brennero train station was so small it was not staffed by a ticket agent to activate our pass. We did manage to get back on board the same train we'd just exited before it left the station, but I was mildly scolded by the conductor for traveling with an invalid Eurail Pass.

"I'm outta here. That stupid Romeo is lost again."

"I'm outta here. That stupid Romeo is lost again."

   What could have been a delightful first class accommodation through the breathtakingly beautiful Tyrolean Alps of Austria and Italy, turned into an exhausting, bifurcated schlog of doubt, disarray and dispirited travel. I'd managed to turn a modern, sleek and smooth European intercity rail experience into something resembling a creaking nightmare on Amtrak.

   We arrived in Verona tired, hungry and an hour and a half before the restaurants opened. Later, Carol saved the evening when she spotted the restaurant we'd been kind of walking in circles looking for, as I continued to insist it was in the opposite direction of where it actually was.

   Over pizza and wine, I casually quipped that our planned romantic arrival in Verona was as starcrossed as Romeo and Juliet's had been. I wasn't sure but I thought I saw Carol examining her cutlery and muttering something like, “Oh happy dagger, this is thy sheath!”