It was a foggy and dreary morning when Ben was awakened by the ring of the European phone in his room. Not really a ring, it was more like a buzzing.
At first he thought he was dreaming. Who would be calling him on the Hotel phone in Königswinter, Germany. He rolled over to get the phone.
“Hallo, Herr Gaumer? You must come to the garage immediately. Die Polizei are here and want to speak with you.”
Quickly, he got out of bed, dressed and hurried down the stairs of the hotel. Out the door and up the street he walked at a quick pace. Rounding the corner to the Hotel Garage, he saw two officers and the police cruiser parked by the rental van. Glass was everywhere around the back of the van and glancing inside he saw that the contents were disheveled.
The officer had a lot of questions, all in German and Ben struggled to keep up. When he had a second to get in a work he said “Bitte, sprechen Sie langsam. Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut.” The officer laughed and said “Neither is My Englisch”.
The rear window was shattered. The small cubic pieces of tempered glass were scattered everywhere….. inside the van and all over the ground surrounding the rear of the van. Inside the van, the only things left to be found was the bicycle, bike padlocks and some bottles of water. All the bags of dirty clothing were gone.
The officer asked a number of questions…. When was the van parked here? When did you see it last? What was inside? Were there any valuables in the bags? What was the description of the bags? I need your passport and the rental information.
After a short time of answering all the questions, Ben found himself surprised in being able to hold a conversation with the officer.
The next item was to search for the missing bags and to call the Sixt agency. There was a man who found two bags in the street and was watching them with his dog. Meanwhile, the rest of his group went searching all the back alleys in the neighborhood of the hotel, figuring if two bags were found maybe the rest would be close by. Miraculously, they were! All the bags were recovered. And with the exception of a few things, everything was there. The few things were a wooden dog, chocolate bars and two bottles of homemade wine from his cousin’s husband, Hermann.
The rest of the story was pretty boring…. so here it is…. while Craig and Kyle took off to ride from Königswinter to Duisburg, we packed everything up in the van and went to the Sixt agency in Cologne to trade it in for a new vehicle. It was SEAMLESS!!! My one lesson learned from this experience…. when on vacation with a rental car in Europe, ALWAYS USE SIXT AUTOVERMIETUNG (car rental) and ALWAYS GET FULL COVERAGE. It was the most simple and stress free thing I have ever experienced! Sixt is simply the best!!
Now we’re waiting for the riders to finish their ride to Duisburg…. it will be a long day for them too after a late start after the theft.
We’ll have a great dinner tonight, a good night’s sleep and we’ll head into our next country tomorrow, the Netherlands and Arnhem.