Friday, May 14, 2010

On the road again...

It's very exciting to finally have a set of wheels again!!! Although the train system in Holland is brilliant and I do love my bike, it's really nice to have our own car and be able to go where we want, when we want! We picked up our new/old little Peugeot yesterday after a somewhat interesting train trip to get to the car dealer...

We made it to the train station with plenty of time to buy our OV-chipkaarts (exactly the same as a Go Card) so that we can benefit from the reduced fares. We buy the cards from the machine, put some credit on them and 'touch on' before getting on the train. An hour into our journey, the ticket inspector scans our cards and all I hear is niet good, niet good. Deciding now is probably not the time to practice my limited Dutch, we both break into frantic spreekt u engels??? spreekt u engels??? We are told by the ticket man that our cards are not activated so we have evaded the fare for our journey. We both instantly break into sweet-and-innocent-I'm-just-a-dumb-tourist mode (while trying to cover my 'Nederlands for anderstaligen' textbook I was reading) and I pull out the wads of receipts the machine gave me, showing the man how I put 30 euros on the cards AND touched the scanning machine while silently wishing we don't get fined! You can imagine at this point how the rest of the train is staring at us! Luckily for us, after inspecting our receipts and coming to the conclusion that we probably are just dumb tourists, the very kind ticket inspector said he'll overlook it but we MUST hop off at the next station and activate our cards.

Red faces slowly subsiding, we hop off at the next station with a 3 minute changeover before our next train. We race down the long platform, down the stairs, out of the tunnel, up the stairs, find a ticket machine, activate our cards, race down the stairs, through the tunnel, up to the platform and voila - the train is still there. Go to hop on and realise we didn't 'touch on' our cards. Look up and down the platform - no scanning machines to be seen. Race down the stairs, out of the tunnel, up the stairs, split up and run around frantically looking for a scanning machine, touching our cards on anything that slightly resembles a machine. Finally, we spot the little scanning machine OUT of the station, touch our cards on, race back into the station, down the stairs, through the tunnel, up onto the platform only to discover our train is gone. Catching our breath, we find out that the next train isn't for half an hour and patiently wait.

Hop on our train, only to remember half an hour later as we go whizzing past our station that alleen means only, not all. Oops. Big oops - as we then figure we are on an express train to Groningen, still another 1 1/2hrs away. Calculating the length of time it will take to get to Groningen and catch a train back, we sadly realise that we may not make it in time to register the car at the post office and so be able to drive it home. Then, the train begins to slow and comes to a stop at another station!!! Feeling unbelievably relieved, we happily hop off and wait for the next train.

I decide all this train changing calls for a visit to the bathroom. I pay my 50 cents and when trying to leave, find that the door won't open. I push and shove and re-lock and un-lock and re-lock and push and strain my arms, all the while imagining how we are never going to be able to pick up this car, now because I'm destined to live in a cramped dingy toilet cubicle. Finally - the door opens! I race out - we run to the platform - hop on the train - hop off at the correct station - and then we both burst out laughing. The car dealer has appeared driving what appears to be a car designed for midgets!!! But, a very cute little European midget car - perfect for the many road trips to be had through the Dutch countryside, I can't wait!!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Luana, sounds like quite an adventure!! I'm glad you made it eventually and got your car.
    Have fun on your travels,


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