So there I was on Tues afternoon meticulously following directions. Equipped with printed train ticket, train app on the iPhone and having checked the wall on Platform 12 in Utrecht.
What was I doing in Utrecht? Well, according to my printed ticket, I was to change from the local train to the ICE on which I had a reservation and head back to Germany. Platform 12 it said. Now, the fact that the platform was under construction should have been the first clue with the second being the time it took me to find the usual poster of ICE/IC train layouts so I could tell which end of the platform my car would likely be located. Lastly, the train just looked like one of the Netherlands trains, not the white with red trim
typical ICE train
that should have been what I was looking for.
Never the less, a train arrived at exactly the right time and I got on. As we pulled out of the station, I decided to see if my BundesBahn train app could give me a detailed schedule to make sure that Rotterdam was on the way home.
I mean after all, I know a lot of European Geography and it just seemed to me that Rotterdam was another port, a bit further north and not at all on the way back to Germany.
Well, guess what? This was an IC going in exactly the wrong direction. Further, there had been a track change in Utrecht that had neither been posted or announced. My train, the one headed to Germany left exactly on time, but from Platform 14. Argh.
So I read and watched, got off in Rotterdam. Walked across the platform and 15 minutes later got on the return train to Utrecht arriving back on platform 11 almost two hours after I left. Not bad? After all I was now at least 10 meters closer to home.
I headed to 14. Again, there was the same sign posted but at least this time the train that pulled in was headed in the correct direction. The train, it now being after 1900 was close to empty. Ignoring the fuss down the car from me I readied my ticket, bahncard and credit card. The ticket I had was a Eurospecial and restricted for the cheap price to my original reservation.
And that answers the question of why I had hung out at Schipol for such a long time. Cheapness, just plain unwillingness to spend 100-150 € unnecessarily for the connivence of arriving home four hours earlier.
Apologizing to the conductor I showed him my ticket with the printed platform (12) that was wrong and explained that I had tried to get directions. By the time I had figured it out, the train was gone and this was the next train in the right direction. I skipped the whole Rotterdam round trip – I mean what would be the point of the further confusion. I handed him my bahn and credit card and asked how much additional I needed to pay.
He looked at me and asked if I had heard the other passenger. The guy complaining about his ticket being lost? Yes, that one. A bit, and I just figured that the train personnel had had enough drama for the evening.
He laughed,, punched my sheet and wrote a note on the back about platform changes and sent in the wrong direction. Checking the schedule he confirmed that the IC 617 would be the correct connecting train but recommended that I change at the Flughafen rather than before since if someone else decided to charge me, it would be much cheaper from there.
I rode quietly to Frankfurt Airport, disembarking on Platform 5 and catching my connection there 45 minutes later. The new conductor just looked at my ticket, read the note on the back, nodded and moved down the line. No hassles, no fuss and no additional charges.
Even better, George picked me up at the train station. It might have been Tuesday night when I arrived in Heidelberg but it was after midnight before I finally got home and crashed.
You have to know that I found the whole thing nerve wracking, I never took my knitting out after leaving Schipol. All those hours, perhaps completely wasted…..