Libby and Bernie – two volunteers on ICC 2015 from the US I stayed in touch with – told me about their travel plans in 2017 and we eventually decided to plan a reunion in Utrecht, the Netherlands! As if I haven’t seen this city for ages… 🙂
In Marburg, the train station staff printed out my seat reservations I booked in advance by calling the mobility center. As usual, they are not able to send international seat reservations online.
Arrived in Frankfurt, the assistance was standing by to take me to the right train. Apparently, he was too lazy to look up my travel information, because he only knew the platform number, but he didn’t know on which train he should board me there.
(Hint: Always double-check your train numbers, the platform and the actual final destination of the train in advance, so you also know in which direction you are heading.)
Because there was no direct connection to utrecht from Frankfurt Main central station, it was necessary to change one more time at Frankfurt airport.
The assistance guy was rambling something about a train to Saarbrücken via Mainz which was, in fact, the right train to board, because a stop at the airport was also included.
The transfer from the local train area to the long-distance train area at the airport was smooth, and a few minutes later, I was on an ICE train to Utrecht Centraalstation!
Between Frankfurt and Cologne, the train stopped and after a few minutes, they announced that a train coming from the opposite direction hit a deer; it would probably take some time to clear the track again to travel onward.
After approximately an hour, they started handing out envelopes with a form for passenger rights. Depending on the delay, you of course have the rights to request up to 50 % of the money that you spent for the ticket.
In the end, with a total delay of one and a half hours, they announced that this train would terminate in Cologne and that it was not certain yet how we could travel onward into the direction of Amsterdam; we probably had the chance to catch another train.
Because there was no regular assistance in Cologne for me, I consulted the train staff for more information.
The train chief offered his help to change trains in Cologne, as he – despite the fact that his train was cancelled – also had to go to Amsterdam. Aboard the other train, he took me to a 1st-class coach, which was pretty handy for both of us.
From there, the trip went smooth – until Arnhem, just half an hour away from Utrecht! All of a sudden, they announced that we could not travel to Utrecht directly, due to some construction work, and therefore have to take a different route, which took one more hour. Awesome, because Bernie was already on his way to the train station to pick me up, so I had to let him know about our travel plans very quickly.
Somewhere between Arnhem and Utrecht, we suddenly stopped at a place we were not supposed to stop (That’s what they said in Arnhem) and a funny Dutch announcement said something like “Feel free to hopp outside for a smoke or so, we have to wait here for a little while”.
I was supposed to be arriving in utrecht at 21:30, but we eventually arrived at 12 midnight exactly. However, Bernie picked me up and we went to their appartnemt by bus, where I – at last – met libby as well.
On Saturday morning, we departed to Efteling, an amusement park, approximately one and a half hours away from Utrecht, where we also met some of Libby’y and Bernie’s friends and enjoyed the rides together.
Of course, we had some typical Dutch snacks for lunch! In the afternoon, however, it started to rain but we didn’t bother.
In fact, we were even crazy enough to buy some candy floss and share it in the poring rain (Told them it was a crazy idea, didn’t I?) and our hands were super sticky, so before attending any more rides, we first went to the bathroom for an extra portion of water for our hands; apparently, the rain wasn’t strong enough to clean our hands.
As for dinner, we found a pancake restaurant where we had the choice between sweet- or solid pancakes.
Back home, we spent the evening with talking about this and that and shared candy from different countries.
Whereas Libby and Bernie met Libby’s parents in the city the next day, I met Eva for a short hangout.
Libby and Bernie joined us later on and took us to the city center where we had Poffertjes, after which Bernie and I retrieved my luggage from the lockers and went to the service point to check in for my assistance on my way back to Marburg.
The trip back to Marburg was relaxing, and I arrived back in Marburg on time.
I was happy to meet Libby and Bernie again, as it is even more difficult for us to arrange something in Europe or the US which is most suitable, and since they were expecting twins it was even more uncertain when we would meet again; so it was indeed awesome to meet them once more before all that was going to happen… But of course, it is not considered to be the last time we met eitherway!