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February 15th 2016
Published: February 15th 2016
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Eindhoven train stationEindhoven train stationEindhoven train station

Most of the commuters were cleared out at this point.
I'm working at our European Operations Center this week, which is based in Heerlen. After taking the red eye Sunday evening, which was delayed an hour due to de-icing, we (me and my two colleagues) expected a straight-forward train ride in the morning from Amsterdam to Maastricht, and also expected one train change and a total of about 3 hours. Unfortunately, that's not how it went.

None of us speak Dutch, and when the announcer on the train stated that everyone had to depart at Eindhoven because of a crossing issue, the three of us sat there like idiots while the train literally emptied of people. We knew we had one more stop before we should change, so we stayed put. For a few minutes, at least. Then we started to get nervous, so we scrambled outside, only to find people boarding the train again. So we thought we had departed prematurely, and assumed Eindhoven was just more bustling than we'd imagined (though still questioned the lack of English signage and announcements). We got back on the train, though nervously, and attempted to flag down a conductor, or any railroad employee. No luck. After about five minutes the train still
No ConnectionNo ConnectionNo Connection

Heerlen doesn't run because of crossing faults
hadn't left the station, so I asked the couple sitting behind me if we were on the correct train to get us to our end destination. Lucky for us, the lady told us were were not on the correct train, so once again, we departed.

Fast forward three hours.

We've asked several people what the situation is, when the trains will leave, if we should be doing anything differently, (all the while getting the same answers from everyone), when a normal citizen gave us a bewildered look and said that they had been bussing people to the next stop because the buses were getting there faster than the trains due to the excruciatingly slow pace they had to drive because of this crossing issue.

We make our way through the station to the buses, realize we still have at least an hour until we reach our destination - assuming the rest of the bus/next train situation goes as planned, when I make the decision to find a toilet. Of course the toilets were on the complete opposite side of the train/bus station. Thankfully, Kerri came with me. We made our way up to something labeled "W/C," which
Dinner at Cucina 50Dinner at Cucina 50Dinner at Cucina 50

The chianti was just a decoration
we figured was Water Closet. There were a few lines of Dutch on the outside of this extra large indoor port-a-potty looking contraption; we think it read something about 23 cents or 7 Euro. Then I told Kerri she should just see if the door opens and if it would let us in without paying; heck, we didn't know how these things worked. As she was extending her arm, and she was mere inches from grasping the handle, I noticed one of the words in the jumble of Dutch said "ALARM." I grabbed her arm and jerked it away and yelled, "NO! It says something about an alarm! We might get in trouble!" As we both stand there like American idiots, half laughing, half scared, mostly "have to pee," I notice a bunch of people going down a stairwell which also had signage with the letters "W/C." We followed them to this half-Euro-charging public restroom; luckily Kerri had a few Euro on her and paid for both of us to use the facilities (which were superbly clean, by the way).

I'm pretty sure that's when I lost my train ticket.

By the time the two of us made it back to Stephanie and our luggage, we were ready to board the bus to get us to the next stop so we could hop back on a new train which would then take us to Maastricht. No such luck. My ticket had vanished. In my sleep-deprived, hunger-driven, sluggishly-aware-of-my foreign-surroundings state, I almost started crying. If those two weren't there with my, I would have. Super calm, they said, "just go over there and buy another ticket, it's ok." I walked into the wrong store, but was thankfully still in earshot when they yelled and waved at me to go next door.

Got my dang ticket, and got no mercy from the ticket agent when I said I'd lost mine but here's my receipt and my return ticket for Friday, then the three of us went over to stand in line for the next bus.

We finally made it! Checked in to the Beaumont hotel, and while the other two had dinner at the hotel restaurant, I walked around a little and enjoyed a great Italian place about a block away. I even overheard some IT people talking shop and am confident we work for the same company, but wasn't fit to introduce myself at the moment. The food was good, the wine was good, and the people were great. I was "Signora," and after my wine and pesto penne pasta, it was Ciao and Grazi!

After a very long 18 hour ordeal, I look forward to a good night's sleep, and a somewhat normal schedule for the next few days.


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