Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Train trips in The Netherlands (part 1)

One of the things I enjoy the most about living in Europe is the possibility of travelling by train. There's something old-fashioned and slightly decadent about long train trips which make them really appealing to me. Besides, I'm scared of flying and I don't have a driving license, so I don't have many other choices left. Luckily  for me, I think that trains are a really relaxed way of travelling, as, usually, you don't have to worry too much about being on time and once you're in the train you can just sit there and enjoy the views form the train windows while listening to music or reading a magazine. Other advantages are the freedom to step down at whichever train station you fancy in between or the many people you can meet on a three hours trip. So, after a year of train-tripping in The Netherlands (not as much as I would have liked to, though) I decided to put some stories together about the not so common things that can happen during any train trip.

Queen's Day ride: Antwerpen - Amsterdam

I have been lucky enough to celebrate Holland's big day in Amsterdam twice! Queen's Day is celebrated throughout the country but it is specially huge in Amsterdam and people from every part of the country goes to Amsterdam to take part in this orange madness, as well as many curious tourists like me. And the party starts already in the train, even if it is a very early train at 9 am. Most people are already dressed up in orange, drinking beer. The last time I went to Amsterdam for Queen's Day was already four years ago with some friends and we also started to party in the train. I had a great time drinking beer and taking pictures of the most eccentric orange costumes (think of orange easter bunnies or orange fairies with orange tiaras!) In the meantime, a Dutch friend of us tried to teach us the national Dutch anthem, but by then alcohol had already taken its toll and I never got any further than the third line. Finally, after two hours in the train, we arrived in Amsterdam totally in the mood for partying and ready to surprise the locals with our own version of the Wilhelmus song!

Commuting for free: Schiphol Airport - Maastricht

Last summer my boyfriend and I came to visit Maastricht to look for a flat before moving in in September. We arrived at the airport and took there a direct train to Maastricht and once we were on the train we realised that we had bought a ticket only valid until Maastricht Centraal while we were supposed to step down at Maastricht Randwyck. In my less than perfect Dutch I asked the ticket inspector if it would be possible to ride till Maastricht Randwyck with the same ticket. He replied that he would find out and left. One hour later the ticket inspector showed up again, took our tickets and wrote something illegible on them. Apparently he had phoned a colleague in Maastricht to sort everything out. I thought he was just joking, after all, he was an inspector himself, so he needn't call anyone to know the rules. However, when we changed trains in Maastricht Centraal to head to Maastricht Randwyck a new ticket inspector came to us and said: "My colleague just called and it is ok for you to be in this train". I really wonder what the inspector on the train actually said on the phone, because the new inspector found us really quickly and didn't even ask if we were the passangers from Schiphol with wrong tickets ... maybe our big luggage did all the talking.

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