Literally, one year ago I took a trip to the Netherlands with my boyfriend and his father. Since we were already so close to his friend Benjamin in Germany we decided to visit for the weekend.
We woke up early in Leiden, two backpacks and a tiny suitcase at hand, and walked the Harlemstratt to the train central. We had 4 trains to catch in this order: Leiden – Utrecht – Hengelo – Osnabrück – Hamburg. The most important connection was from Hengelo to Osnabrück because that was the “international” connection between Netherlands and Germany.
Our first train was supposed to arrive at Utrecht at 11:35 am and the next train departed at 11:37 am, we had two minutes to change platforms. We thought it was too close but supposed they wouldn’t sell you a connection you wouldn’t be able to catch. We were so wrong, the train was late for 2 minutes exactly! We ran and unfortunately when we arrived at the platform the train was already leaving. Disaster! We lost our first connection and now it seemed impossible to get to Hengelo on time for the connection to Germany!
We went to the help desk and they told us to get on a train that would take us to Amersfoort where we might be able to catch another fast train to Hengelo. We decided to hop on and plan on the way there. While on the train we started using the trains app to find a way to get to Hengelo before the departure time at 13:34. We soon realized we were going to miss that train too. The train we were on was a local type of train, they go a little bit slower and stop at every stop possible. There were no fast trains at that time that we could catch since this train was always behind them. Damn you man at the help desk.
I started using google maps to see if there was another way. The suggestion was to hire a taxi or rent a car, which was not an option really. We already lost the money for our train to Germany and maybe our hotel too if we couldn’t get there. We might need to purchase new train tickets. I asked Dirk if we could get help from the train company that sold us the tickets and he said they don’t care, if you miss a train is your fault. With low spirits, we got off the train at Amersfoort.
We got on another local train that was heading to Apeldoorn, and when we arrived we took the final train to Hengelo. It was already 13:50, and our connection to Germany was long lost. By then we were resigned to purchasing new tickets. That’s what credit cards are for, right? We went to the help desk in Hengelo and explained what happened. The woman was extremely helpful! She arranged new tickets to Osnabrück for us for free and gave us “official” papers with stamps for the Germans at Osnabrück Station that explained why we missed our connection. She said they might not charge us for the train to Hamburg but since the companies are different she wasn’t sure.
We had an hour to spare before the train departed and we were pretty hungry. We got out of the station to look for food. Surprise! There was a Saturday market in front of the station. We walked around the small market and guess what happened. We found a snack brand called Dirk. My boyfriend’s name is pretty common in the Netherlands, so it’s not a big surprise to find a brand that uses the name Dirk. He is Canadian-dutch-Mexican, quite a combo. What was surprising is that this snack brand had a product called “Mexicanos”. After all the stress we felt, all the worrying and the uncertainty, we thought this was the funniest thing in the world and couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. Dirk got three packages of Mexicanos.
We stopped to eat at a street food stand in the market. Here I found something I wanted to try since I googled “Top 10 foods to try in the Netherlands”. A Frikandel, a fried sausage in a bun with onion and a delicious curry sauce on top. I had two. No regrets. With our stomachs full we walked back to the station to wait for our train. There was no way we were missing that one.
The train from Hengelo to Osnabrück was very relaxing. It’s not a fast train, so you can enjoy the scenery. We saw many windmills, farms, and cute cows. We got some snacks for the ride. We read our books and prepared for the last help desk experience of the day.
When we arrived at Osnabrück we walked to the customer service desk, again. Another nice woman helped us with our connection problems, we provide the stamped official papers and that was it. We got two new seated tickets to Hamburg and a paper to fill with our travel info to get a 30% compensation. After all that had happened that day, we were going to be a little late to arrive in Hamburg but that was all. Happiness. To celebrate we got some sweet bread from the station’s bakery.
By the last train, we were both pretty tired, we just wanted to get to our hotel and rest. In the end everything was okay. We arrived safely and that’s all that matters. But like the adventurous souls we are, we didn’t stay to rest. We walked downtown and were rewarded with a festival.
Prost! To unexpected surprises!