So I have spent today trying to get to Bruges from Amsterdam. It’s a matter of a couple hundred kilometres, no big deal. From one country to the next, one train ticket, yada yada yada.
This morning I get up bright and early and have my breakfast, pack up my stuff, pick up a bouquet for my hosts in Bruges, and go to the train station to get my ticket. I go first to the lady, who tells me it’s cheaper if I get the ticket from the machine. I get the impression that she doesn’t want to stop surfing Perez Hilton or whatever it is she’s doing to actually serve a customer. OK fine. I go to the machine. The machine eventually lets me know that it doesn’t take my credit card. Oh, OK. My budget included transport on credit cards; I actually have bought some of my tickets in advance–with credit cards. but not this one as I wasn’t sure of my timing exactly.
So I go back to the lady and she tells me that she doesn’t take credit cards either. OhhhhhhhhK. We try my bank card. No go. Fine, cash it is. (FUCK.)
I get my ticket, I decide to hop an earlier train for Schiphol so I can change some more of my dwindling cash supply. I do that, get raped not quite as badly as by the last money changer,
I find my platform for my IC train to Antwerpen and beyond. I get on my train, which is announced many times as “International IC train to Belgium.” I ride through charming, be-cowed countryside with little canals everywhere. The train eventually stops somewhere, I can’t read the town name, and it doesn’t continue. I think, hmmm. I wait. I look out the door and find that it’s scheduled to depart at 43 after the hour, it’s now the half hour. OK, I didn’t have a proper schedule and my ideas of distance in these (relatively) miniature countries are sketchy at best. Eventually it stairs, the train, and it …goes back the way it came. WHAT?
A conductor passes by, I ask if we’re in the direction for Antwerpen. No! he says, we’re going to Amsterdam Centraal. Well shit I just came from Amsterdam, what should I do, I’m supposed to go to Antwerp and there was no announcement on the train, I thought it was my IC train to Belgium!
Oh you’d better get out at Rotterdam and catch another train there. OK.
I get out at Rotterdam, ask a train lady at the bottom of the stairs which platform for Antwerpen, and miss the train by, literally, seconds. No train for half an hour, it’s a Thalys to Paris Nord. Or I can wait and get the next one that I missed in an hour. I want to get there ASAP, people are waiting and likely have reorganized their days for me. So I talk my way onto the Thalys with no reservation, it’s an €18 supplement to sit in the little jumpseat. Well I have this annoying rolly bag and big bunch of flowers, so I’m OK with the jumpseat really, it saves me either leaving my bag unattended or trying to hoist it somewhere unhoistable, and dealing with the bouquet.
I get to Antwerpen, approximately 2 minutes after the train to Bruges leaves. I ask at information for the next train to Bruges. Antwerp is under drastic construction, and I’m not the only one asking for help, the big boards are noticeably absent. The girl there looks me up two different trips, one involving a change and getting in a mere 13 minutes sooner…I decide to just go with the original plan, the direct train.
I’m philosophical by this point. I text my host that I’m going to be another hour later than I expected.
I sit on the platform, eat the tuna sandwich I brought from Rotterdam, and wait for the train. The train doesn’t come. It’s not announced on the board on the platform, I think, perhaps it’s late? Eventually a chap who’s been waiting for the same train goes exploring and finds that it’s just left, from another platform. I have been listening closely to the announcements, and can guarantee that none was made regarding this train to Oostende.
And so, another hour.
Three hours late from my original ETA. The train has been announced for its originally scheduled platform now. I should be in Bruges in another hour and a half or so.
I have never ever had this sort of trouble with European trains before. I wonder what happened to them. Language notwithstanding, I know how to, you know, get on a train.