Thursday, December 25, 2008

Journey to the World Record

Tomorrow The Train is a travel memoir of an incredible journey to the world record on rail travel. Mona Tippins set out alone to break the Guinness World Record. Her journeys took her through thirty-three countries. The twenty-seven chapters of this book reveal some of the adventures she experienced along the way. She was robbed, beaten, and chased by drug addicts. More than once she was mistaken for a prostitute, a spy and a beggar. She traveled 79,841 unduplicated miles. Mona broke the record in February 1997, and was listed in the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records.

About the Author
Mona Tippins was born in Princeton, Indiana, and raised in Washington, D.C. She has lived in California, Florida, and Germany, but now calls Arkansas home. She and her husband Herb have two children and four grandchildren. Traveling has always been a favorite pastime for Mona, but her train journey to the world record remains tops in her travel memories. Her love of trains was inherited from her mother. Mona's mother worked for the railroad in Washington, D.C. during World War II. Her father worked laying track in California in the 1920s. Mona is the author of European Train Travel Tips.

© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Tomorrow the Train: Journey to the World Record
Mona MacDonald Tippins

As I was walking out to the platform to board the train to Warsaw, a man about seventy-five years old caught up with me. He asked if I would have dinner with him in Warsaw. We spoke in German. I told him I would be leaving Warsaw on a night train, so it would be impossible. I thanked him for the invitation. Then, he hugged me. He said, "No, I thank you. I thank America for what it did in the war."

It was the first time a Polish veteran had hugged me because of our role in the war, but several German veterans had hugged me for the same reason. And each time, I cried because our former enemy understood that we were right. I was never more proud to be an American.

As soon as the train pulled into Warsaw, I boarded a night express to Berlin. I looked into the first compartment in the corridor, and saw only a briefcase on the overhead storage rack. That was encouraging. I figured the owner of the briefcase was a commuter who would soon detrain, leaving me a private place to stretch out and sleep. I put my backpack on the rack, and stepped out quickly into the corridor to look out the open window. From the corner of my eye, I saw only the dark suit of the man who grabbed my head from behind. He forced me around toward the compartment door, and slammed the right side of my face into the doorjamb. I saw stars! He pushed past me, grabbed his briefcase, and disappeared down the hall.

When the stars stopped blinking, I tried to find a conductor, but the door leading to the sleeping carriage was locked; I couldn't go through. I hadn't seen the man's face; I couldn't identify him, anyway. I would never know why he hurt me. He must have thought I was going to steal his briefcase.

My face was bleeding, and my eye was swelling. How could he have done that to me? I was afraid to go to sleep. In the washroom I discovered the source of the blood, a deep gash on the side of my face, just under my eye. Afraid of infection from the non-potable water from the tap, I wiped my face and eye with an alcohol pad. Ouch!

In the morning in Berlin, I boarded InterCity # 501, the Schauinsland, to Frankfurt; I still had a day's journey to reach my base in Bad Kreuznach. I didn't travel for a week; I was ashamed to go out, because I had another black eye. It looked worse than the one I was given on the street in Berlin.

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