"Mommy, wake up! We're back where we started!"

Hubby and I, along with our two little ones, had fallen asleep on the train. I glanced at my phone. It was nearly 1 a.m. Then the announcement, "All passengers are requested to exit at this stop."

As we trekked into the midnight chill we realized that we were indeed back where we started. I straightened my dirndl and tugged at my knee socks. Hubby tucked one thumb into his lederhosen and thoughtfully studied the train schedule. Reading German is difficult enough, let alone at 1 a.m. when one is groggy from an unplanned nap.

Finally, he turned to me, "I have no clue why the train came back, and it doesn't look like another comes until tomorrow."

Typically, I am up for any adventure, but it was so cold and late, and everyone was tired from the Oktoberfest celebrations. We left the single, desolate platform, and walked into the dark street. There were no taxis, hotels, or even an open business anywhere in sight.

I heard voices coming from beneath a ramp across the road. Hubby and the kids waited behind, while I approached a Turkish man in his Donor Kebap stand. "Can you call a taxi?"

He pointed to his only customer who, in broken English, claimed to be a taxi driver. He motioned for me to follow him, and started up the ramp in the opposite direction of my family. As I watched him stumble drunkenly from side to side, I realized that even if this man was a cabbie, I had no business getting into a vehicle with him.

I turned back toward hubby, but he was gone. Vanished with the kids. The taxi driver grabbed my arm and pulled me deeper into the darkness where two other men were waiting. I called hubby's name, but he didn't hear me. The men were leering, and began saying things that I am fairly certain would have offended me in English.

My cell phone rang, and I jerked my arm free. It was hubby. "A train came! Run quickly!"

I ran faster than any chubby girl has ever run in her life. The men followed me, shouting as I dashed up the steps to the platform. I ran alongside empty cars until I found hubby, and just as the doors were closing, I hopped on board. Daughter began crying, "I was afraid you wouldn't make it!"

We rode for several minutes, and then the announcement, "All passengers are requested to exit at this stop."

Once again, we were standing on a cold platform, studying German signs. The distant sound of a bus reminded me that many tracks are under construction, and bus transportation is provided between stations.

Hubby grabbed the stroller with one hand, and tucked our son like a football. I could hear his leather britches rubbing as we ran just fast enough to see taillights.

During the 22-minute wait, we stood huddled in the corner of the shelter; partly to keep warm, and partly to keep the children out of the vomit someone had recently spewed.

The bus seats formed a large semi-circle. We were joined by a group of teens, beers still in hand, on their way home after a night of carousing. Certain curse words are the same in any language, but I resisted the temptation to cover my little ones' ears. Sometimes, it is better to suck it up than to risk angering strangers.

One young man looked at hubby, "You are American?"

He nodded in the affirmative.

Another observed, "You wear lederhosen and dirndl."

"Oktoberfest," hubby replied.

Suddenly, they became very friendly. One girl in particular was quite interested in the U.S. I confessed that we were lost, and desperately wanted to find our way back to the apartment. Seven young people came to our rescue, helping us find the proper train, and even entertaining our little ones while we waited.

What should have been a 40 minute trip had turned into a three-and-a-half hour ordeal. At 3 a.m., we finally fell into bed, thinking that the children would sleep until nearly noon. But soon I was awakened by a familiar voice, "Mommy, wake up! It's time to fix breakfast!"

Once again, I was back where I started.