Train travel in Europe is normally problemloss and hassle free. You show up at the station, board your train, take your seat and ride comfortably till you arrive promptly at your destination.
And am not sure what happened yesterday but it might have been me jinxing the whole thing even before I left home. I ran a quick double check and thought I had everything. A double check showed that I was one credit card short. As it happens, it was the UBS chip/pin card which is probably the most useful one that I own to have while traveling in Europe. I clearly remember having it last night so I know that it is in the house somewhere rather than completely lost and needing reporting.
The hike to the train station was comfortable and taking me only about 5 minutes longer than usual considering that my backpack is not exactly the lightest thing in the world. The homeless camp along the route was tucked safely under the overpass and was complete with three rather scruffy guys, their camp stove and popup single man tents over mattresses. Think they are settled in for the long run?
Anyway – back to the trains. I should have known something was up when first the train was a few minutes late rolling into Heidelberg and secondly reversed from what was on the signs.
[diversion here – On every platform there are big signs that list the EC/IC/ICE trains with the car numbers and the layout so you can find your car for your seat reservation most easily. When the electric overhead sign comes on, there is also normally a plat which shows the relative location of the 1st and 2nd class cars. It is highly irritating when you are standing at “A” and your car shows up at “E” which is the far end of the platform]
Since this was a physically short train I managed to get on the right car in the first place. I didn’t think about the delay till we were almost at Mainz and now 20 minutes behind. At that point I looked at my ticket to find that I had 10 minutes to make my train change in Düsseldorf. Backpack, suitcase and two sets of stairs? Not going to happen.
From Mainz we headed north along the river. The scenery was beautiful tho obvious the river was still flooded. The hills are green, the towns sparkling and castles scattered like marbles along the tops of most high hills to defend their territories since medieval times.
Did I mention we were delayed? Just before Köln the conductor came on to explain that, due to the delays the train was no longer stopping in Düsseldorf so that if you were thinking about going to Amsterdam it would be a good idea to get off in Köln to catch the ICE128 which was no longer going to stop in Düsseldorf. Ok – I can do that.
Oh, and by the way – there is a platform change….. OK, I can manage that as well.
Change trains to what turns out to be the train I was supposed have taken in Düsseldorf. We are now almost an hour behind. Once again there is a conductor announcement. This time in Dutch, German and English that announces all of the delays are due to power problems somewhere along the time. Oh, and this train is no longer continuing to Amsterdam but will end in Utrecht where everyone is going to need to change trains.
Did I mention that I am supposed to be meeting Carmen at Schipol somewhere in the Burger King seating and that I no way to contact her. Meeting time? 1345 and it is now 1400…. I have been sending off email updates on a regular basis but have no clue as to whether or not she has managed to get on line – I kind of doubt with the lack of reply.
The change at Utrecht goes smoothly and it is almost 1500 when I take the escalator up to the central portion of Schipol (which has to be one of the largest train station/aiport/shopping malls in Europe). Almost asleep, Carmen is sitting wearily in the seating area.
From Schipol we take the train to the Central Station (crowding in with the herd that is milling around with suitcases also bound in the same direction. And then there are all the lovely people with bicycles which seem to be a right rather than a privilege and always allowed on the trains regardless of commuter times or number of passengers).
Our accommodation is one of the houseboats in the Harbor at NEMO. Where we have an incredibly tiny cheap cabin with bunk beds. It just large enough that two people can stand up at the same time but not with suitcases.
After a simple dinner out, I manage to Skype in for a board call and then crash exhausted.
Oh, that credit card? It didn’t get left behind after all which I discovered last night when undressing. I had tucked it into my left shoe so that I would be sure to find it.