I mentioned yesterday that getting from Rotterdam to Amsterdam via the train was a bit of a fiasco. Before reading this there are three things you should know. 1. I used to live over there so I have a fairly good idea of how the train system works. Or at least I think I do. 2. I speak Dutch fairly well. I’m not 100% fluent but I speak it well enough to get around and understand what’s going on around me. 3. Thinking you know things better than you actually do can be worse than not knowing anything at all.
Once I got into Amsterdam I was supposed to meet a former au pair friend of mine but I couldn’t get a hold of her before I left. We had talked the day earlier and she said she’d be into Centraal Station around 6pm. I could have gone earlier and been with my host family’s current au pair but I wanted to spend a few more hours with them. At the time I thought I would leave for home early the next morning and wouldn’t see them for a long while. Ha!
Anyway, of course I hung around until the last possible second and got to the station way later than I should have been. Since I was running late I decided to take the express train since it would get in at 6 instead of the normal getting in at 6:30.
I’d never taken the “super fast” train before so I asked at the desk for that train specifically. I double checked when she handed me the ticket that it was for the fast train. Oh no, I have to pay extra for the fast train. Ok I knew that (and why I asked for the fast train but whatever). I paid the extra, she handed me a different ticket, I took that one and made a run for the train since I had less than five minutes until it was supposed to leave.
I was relieved that I am a fast runner and made the train with a minute or two to spare. I found my seat and glanced down at my ticket. That’s when I realized what I was holding in my hand wasn’t a ticket at all. All I had was a voucher for the extra fee. In a panic (because the fine for not having a ticket can be 50+ euros) I went to the door to ask if what I had was enough. Nope, he said. I stood at the door not knowing what to do. I would like to mention that to the conductor, I spoke English. Sure, I could have easily spoke Dutch but then? How could I feign being an ignorant tourist?
The train was leaving so there was no way I could go all the way back to the ticket counter. If I waited then I spent an extra 8 euros for nothing since the next express train wasn’t for another hour. I’d just have to take a normal train. I told him I paid for a ticket but this voucher was all I had. He was nice and said a ticket was only 10 euro so I should just stay on the train.
That would have been fine but stupid me only brought a few euros more than I would need to get there and back. I opted not to bring my credit card because I didn’t want to lose it. At this point I was at the brink of tears. I was mad that I was going to pay double for a ticket and worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to get home.
As soon as the conductor came by I burst into tears. I’m talking, giant crocodile tears. I started to tell him I wouldn’t have enough to get home and I really did pay for a ticket I swear. He interrupted me mid outburst and asked how much I had paid. I told him how much and he said not to cry, someone found my ticket. He then stamped both tickets and walked away leaving me feeling like an idiot for crying.
I wish I could thank whomever found my ticket. Or maybe the conductor just felt bad for me and pretended someone did and so he could let me on the train. Either way, I had enough money to get me there and home despite my poor planning.
After I got to the station I waited around for several minutes before I heard that my friend was actually sick and not going to make it. I know she couldn’t help it but seriously? I went through all that just to get there 20 minutes sooner… and I wasn’t even meeting anyone. ::sigh::
As you know I ended up having a great time anyway. Why the darn lady at the ticket counter didn’t call after me I’ll never know. I really don’t think I was running that fast that she didn’t notice. I also don’t remember there being anyone behind me, or even in the ticket area at all. Thank goodness for English and my ability to cry crocodile tears on command.
I know that someday soon I need to write about my time in The Netherlands as an au pair. I mean, I did but that was my very first blog and honestly not that great. You probably don’t want to sort through the ramblings and broken pictures. I will write about it soon, really. Not today though.
For now, all you need to know is I was an au pair for my Dutch family and I love them. What caused me to think about going to The Netherlands was the World Cup game, but what convinced me was the idea of seeing my family again. I arrived Saturday morning (thankfully very well rested because of my first class seat) and had all day to visit with them. It was fantastic.
This is my sweet Caroline. She has a bit of a flair for the dramatic…
and an obsession with my iPhone. As you can see, Timo thinks it’s pretty nifty as well.
If you’ve never had a stroopwafel, I’m sorry. So delicious. In ice cream? Even better.
Timo, Morten and Caroline. I can’t believe how big they’ve all gotten. They were only 1, 3, and 5 when I first met them. Now they’re 7, 9 and 11. Ah!
While strolling around Rotterdam we came across these flower arrangements.
I told you the Dutch grew fond of vuvuzelas.
That evening we headed over to my second favorite Dutch family’s home. There I got to make homemade sushi for the first time. Despite being very labor intensive it was fun and allowed for some nice conversation.
It was also quite yummy.
Sisters, Ineke and Thea.
What a little ham. I actually traveled to Romania when Thea and her family were living there to help her out with her other kids when Abel was born. He’s five now. Eesh!
I can’t even express how much this family means to me or how amazing they are. As stressful as the trips back and forth to the airport were, I really was lucky to get some extra time with them. It ended up being almost a week which was really a big treat.
With all the visiting I did, plus the stories, video clips and pictures from the game, my time in Holland will have to be broken into parts. Look for part two tomorrow!
I can’t wait to write about my time watching the game and my days here but they really should be accompanied by the pictures and videos I took. Since I’m still stuck in The Netherlands I don’t have any way to really upload or edit them.
Why am I stuck in The Netherlands? Well, apparently I’m not the only one who wants to get back to Chicago. Unfortunately most of the other people have tickets. I however, can only list myself for any available seats. Sometimes that works out great. Like on the way over here I ended up in a first class suite. Trust me, sweet only starts to describe it. It is a fantastic way to travel if you want to arrive well fed and rested.
On the other hand, when the flights are really busy it’s a problem. Then I travel all the way to the airport (45 minute train ride) just to sit there for several hours and turn right back around. It’s not cheap. It costs about 30 Euros round trip. Not too bad if you only go once. It starts to get expensive when you have to do it several days in a row though. Plus I have to clear customs and get a stamp in my passport every single time. My passport is going to be so full but it’s only going to be of AMS stamps. There’s also the lugging of my bags back and forth, up and down several flights of stairs and on and off of trains.
The silly thing is, staying here longer is kind of a treat. I feel more at home here than anywhere else in the world. I really love spending the extra time with my host family. If I knew when I could get back I wouldn’t be bothered, I’d be ecstatic to be here longer. It’s the back and forth and the unknown that has me all stressed. I just want to know the plan.
The flights look a little less full tomorrow than they did the last two days so I’m really hoping I can make it home. We’re supposed to sign the new lease on Friday. Plus I really do miss Joel a whole bunch (aws and all that mushy stuff, sorry). Wish me lots of luck. Now I’m off to bed because 5:30am comes really early.
The other day I got a message from Ineke, my former employer/host mom in Rotterdam. She was asking me when I was planning to visit them since Caroline was missing me a lot. I was feeling a bit spontaneous and the flights were wide open so I asked if they had plans that weekend. That was Wednesday. Friday we were sitting in first class, sipping champagne on a flight to Schiphol International Airport. An overnight flight and quick train ride later we were downtown Rotterdam.
Caroline and Me, we missed each other!
She and Joel had a lot of silly fun too.
We got to watch the boy’s judo exams Saturday afternoon. They both did very well and passed to the next level.
We also went with Ineke and the kids to the market and enjoyed some delicious Dutch treats, yum!
Nothing is quite like some delicious patat.
Speaking of Dutch treats, Ineke’s apple taart is to die for!
Sunday the weather was sunny and warm..ish so we decided to take a trip to Hoek van Holland.
Not quite so sunny and warm once we got to the beach but it was still windy.
It was a little too windy, this is one of the short times the kite actually stayed in the air. Most of the time it would go up and almost immediately come crashing back to the ground. Actually, the kite probably came crashing down shortly after I took this. For the boys it was pretty frustrating but it made for some really funny video footage.
Building a sand castle.
Happy couple. Can you believe it had been almost four years since we were last in The Netherlands together?
It was a really fun trip full of good food and even better company. I love my Dutch family and I wish they weren’t quite so far away. At least my job makes them seem a lot closer. *smile*