Four is not Five

It should be very simple and obvious, right?

Anyway – The lecture this morning on the Dutch East India Company was fun and entertaining. It was mostly about one of the first ship/company surgeons as well as the incredible death rates among the basic sailors (one in three survived to return to home port….)

After a couple of other seminars, a visit with a friend from the SanAk days now a German Embassy Doc in Kenya (who as well has oversight for 14 other countries), coffee, lunch and more coffee I walked back to the hotel.

After collecting my luggage I found there was a free shuttle to the train station. Always better than a cab since it once again was raining and the idea of walking in the rain dragging luggage was not exactly thrilling.

The Netherlands train system is like Germany. There are clear yellow placards at all reasonable points with listings of time, trains and platforms. Standard platforms. And, as it turns out, there are also clear display screens in each train car so you know where you are, where the train is going, and – even better – the next stop.

As a result, taking the train to Utrecht, walking across the platform and boarding the train to Schipol was a breeze. Never mind that I still don’t understand why 7a is on the quay as 5b. It was at the airport that things got to be fun.

Schipol has turned into one large transportation complex. The trains are downstairs, the shopping area is obvious and the locations for taxis, buses and hotel shuttles are clearly signed. The hotel where I planned on staying is about 200 meters down from the complex which meant I was there in short order.

It was then that the fun began. Bright, noisy and full of people, there is only self check in at large computer screens. When entering my name, my reservation number and anything else I could imagine didn’t help I took a deep breath. A nice young man came over to assist. We looked over my reservation and spotted the problem. For whatever reason, my screen at HRS had not flipped to the correct date (or had flipped back and I just didn’t spot it). I did have a reservation for the 22nd. Unfortunately, it was not May 22.


My lovely young earinged man looked up hotel options in the area. Other than the Hilton and Sheraton, there was nothing else available at the airport. My flight takes off at 07xx in the morning. In order to make an 0635 boarding I want at least an hour at the airport. Staying anywhere else would add a morning cab fare of ~65E from downtown in addition to having to get up an hour earlier.

I went and checked into the Hilton. Connected by a skyway, albeit a long one, I stayed out of the rain and could count on a 10 minute walk in the morning. Free Wifi in the lobby didn’t hurt either.

Almost, but not quite makes up for, even with printing out the receipt, not noticing that April and May are two different months.

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