29 June 2012
It was a big travel day today and I also found many new "truths" today. The first is that it's a much bigger day of travel when you're lugging luggage (see how aptly that is named)! Another obvious "fact" in travel is that, the more you have to carry, the more stairs you have to climb...and you will inevitably find the elevator right AFTER you do climb the stairs with all the luggage! The last thing I learned (again) is that the words, "Trust me" should be followed with healthy skepticism.
We landed in Hoek van Holland this morning and the disembarking began at 7:45am. They do a ship-wide wake-up call at 6:30am. I slept really well on the boat and was deeply asleep when the phone rang at 2:30am. Mom and I both thought it was the wake up call, but it was a prank call...apparently drunk youth are obnoxious in any country. (Actually, I'm going with the fact that it was a mis-dial and not malicious;-) When we went back to sleep, it was a peaceful night. The actual wake-up call was over the ship's loudspeaker...I can't get it out of my head...using Bobby McFaren's "Don't Worry, Be Happy." I don't think I'll change my alarm to use it, but it is a "happy" tune to wake to:-)
When we disembarked, we took the train to Rotterdam. We've explored that town many years ago and today decided that we were just traveling on to Drenthe (a province in the Netherlands where my mom grew up). I read the train schedule and we realized we could get most of the way on one train. A big deal when lugging luggage. We found the elevator (yeah) and realized it didn't go up to the platform (boo), but then realized the stairs had an escalator (yeah!). We walked across the platform to the train track listed and realized there was no elevator/escalator down (boo!). With some gravity assistance, we got down to the platform. (This was not just a single flight, but about 3 floors worth to pass over the trains.) There we waited until the announcement came on that the train we wanted was leaving from a DIFFERENT track...one that required climbing back up the stairs and down another set of stairs with the luggage (boo) within 4 minutes (serious BOOOO!).
We did decide that, since we weren't competing for a spot on the Amazing Race (and that, if we were, we would have taken less luggage and trained for it), it wasn't worth risking cardiac arrest to make it. When we got to the top of the stairs, I left Mom there with the luggage and went to check in the main building for the whole route to Hoogeveen.
Great news! There was a direct train with only one change! Oh, and by the way, there was also an elevator if you went UNDER the tracks and there was no need to carry all that luggage up and down those stairs...ooops...guess I got the cardiac training today. I went back up to Mom and I carried the luggage DOWN for one last time. Dutch people are very nice and 3 different people offer to help carry the luggage, but we had time and I didn't want to inconvenience anyone, so I did decline (OK, it may have been pride, but I'll move on...)
We got on the train and found an open car with jump seats designed for people with bikes, but it worked great for people with lots of luggage. There was a couple speaking English across from us. At our first stop, they got up and got off...and then jumped right back on. The train started moving and they were talking to us and immediately realized that WAS where they wanted to get off! Just as they were realizing it, the conductor came through. He asked them were they were going and they said,"Assen." This was just one stop past where we were going. The conductor said that they didn't need to switch trains. That the one they were on went there. When they questioned him about the other information they had received, he said, "Don't listen to those other people. Trust me!" [Yes, this is the part I shouldn't have trusted.]
We realized that we were going in the same direction, but to a smaller town, so the express train we were on wouldn't stop there. We told the couple, who by this time had moved up to the top floor, that we would tell them when to get off. It would be a long ride. We settled in, knowing we had quite a ride ahead, until we got to Zwolle. In the past, you had to be careful which end of the train you were in. One half went your way, one went another. We were hoping the conductor would come back through to confirm that we could stay on.
When we were in train station in Zwolle, I poked my head out of the door and the sign saying were the train was going, said the other way! I mentioned this to Mom, but we settled back in, but then she asked the man getting on our train if this one stopped at the town we needed. He promptly said, "No, it's the other half." We quickly jumped up, walked out the door, walked up to the other half, and, as the train we needed pulled away without us, stood on the platform and realized we forgot to tell our buddy couple that THEY needed to get off too!!! I felt AWFUL!!! Yep, never listen to the words "Trust Me."
When we got on our train between Zwolle and Assen, where my aunt and uncle were picking us up, Mom was in a chatty mood. She told me about her high school and "finishing school." That program (including chemistry) was not one that worked for her. She stayed there for one semester and then decided it wasn't worth going back. After that she took a nurse's aid course and had a job at a hospital.
My Aunt Gre and Uncle Ger met us at the train station in Assen. Mobile phones make coordinating much easier than in "the old days." They took us through Westerbork on the way home. Westerbork is the town that my mom grew up in. We stopped by my grandparents old house. They had had it build when they retired. It has changed a lot. They've added a "sun room" and changed the yard layout. I'm going to have to pull out my old pictures to see the differences. We headed into the town center and had lunch. I ordered the Nasi Goreng lunch at a restaurant that was located between the house my mom was born in and the house she grew up in. It was very cool!
We also drove past my mom's elementary school on our way home to Oosterhesselen. We moved our stuff into the room and have been spending the afternoon hanging out. I also got some homework done for my graduate program that starts when we get back to the states. Lovely day...tomorrow we have a major family reunion for Uncle Ger's birthday. Looking forward to seeing many of my cousins and their kids. I'll also see my other Aunt and Uncle.