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Train to Amsterdam

Oh god that was painful. Got to the station at 11:20. Tried the SNCF ticket machines there; they wouldn't take my card either. "We only take ... Visa ... " Fuckers. My MasterCard debit card didn't work either though that was a desperation move; likely I never activated its debit functionality.

So I stood in line hoping to pay cash. Long, slow, line, with people taking forever. Don't know if I would have made it, but near the end an employee bumped me to an immediate departures line. At least I was prepared: I'd written out what I needed, though she asked anyway, and my name if they cared, which she didn't, and had exact change handy.

After all that, they only announce the platform with 10 minutes to spare. Heh, way faster turnaround than planes. Even my second class seat is pretty comfortable. I'd have to pay for wifi but I can live without. No personal lighting or airjet, but I'm comfortable for now.

I belatedly noticed last night that the hotel I'd gotten has one star on booking.com, with lots of reviews saying "hot, dirty, noisy". Oops. Looked around a bit more and found one further out from the center, much nicer and so much cheaper that paying the one night cancellation fee still come out the same.

We passed an airport on the right, from an odd angle as if the train were tilted to the left, then we leveled out. High speed train needing to bank for turns, and I happened to catch it? Not that I noticed us turning.

My seat is right near the train bar, lots of foot traffic. Bar has various drinks and food. And three college age girls speaking English, sound American. Talking about removing nose hair and ripping eyebrows out and "getting a Brazilian down there", which is inhibiting my desire to go say hi to compatriots. Bar has higher windows, so you can stand and look out.

I've observed more banks and turns now. Also I was wrong -- there is a personal light, way up there, with the control down by the seat tilt.

Brussels after 90 minutes. There hasn't been much landscape -- I'm heading into the Low Countries after all -- but the city seems to have ridges. Also tall narrow houses, like much of San Francisco only more squished and less colorful. Also the isolated drab high-rises that I assume are social housing.

Hmm, I didn't look at the map thoroughly -- it's going to take longer from Brussels to Amsterdam than Paris to Brussels?

---Later---

Went and said high to the girls. Or 30something women from south Chicago who all work in different breweries. We hung out to the end of trip, fun and different for me. Becky, Jill, and Jackie, for my reference.

Afterwards, so annoying. Station wasn't labeled or laid out well: shops didn't have SIM cards; one did but not prepaid with data, so I got told where to go in theory; I bought a map; bought a different, more useful map; finally found transit info and took a number; forty people later I got my 7 day pass and a transit map; I finally found my bus; then I got off at the wrong bus stopand was even walking the wrong way until I flagged down a bicyclist with more clue than my driver; then I had ambiguity about where to get into the hotel and chose the wrong one; then I got to wait for a couple dozen people buying daypasses from the hotel. Couple hours from train to hotel room.

Also, it's raining. Very lightly.

I am aware in "count your blessings" that a bad day for me is "worry and fail to miss my train, then get confused and run late for oh hey, nothing was waiting on me." The women were a happy lot but one had police on a bf who'd chased her around, and another one was worried that one of her underlings had gone from sweet country girl to missing person, probably caught up in drugs and pimping.

Still, I like to vent.

New hotel is nicer and quieter than reviews warned of the first hotel I booked, though definitely further off too; should move soon and see what's nearby or just go downtown.

Nice hotel room. No fridge sadly, or rather there is a fridge but it's a minibar stocked with drinks. I couldn't even empty them to make room for food since it's automated and I'd be charged right away.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
apokalypsetest
Oct. 15th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
He,

yeah, high speed trains tilt. Europeans love Visa and maybe Master - don't even try AmEx or Discovery.

All the World is not like the US - get used to it :D I had to too

Glad you made to the pays bas...
mindstalk
Oct. 15th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
I *have* Visa and (maybe) Mastercard, nothing else. But the train companies keep balking. "Verified by Visa" problems in the UK, fixable rejection to France, unfixable rejection to the Netherlands. Haven't had problems otherwise...
apokalypsetest
Oct. 15th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
Wow, ok, that sucks - never had any problems with my visa debitcard anywhere in Europe, tried France, Luxemburg, Belgium so far. My card is from IU Credit Union. That aside: I hope you enjoy Amsterdam.

The Dutch are masters at frying everything. Things to try because the are awesome: Fritesauce (speak "Freetesaws") the Dutch dressing for fries. Also Matjes Herring - its a raw herring with onions. Also the Dutch have these DeepFried food parlors, forgot how they are called, where you can buy all kinds of stuff.

I was recommended to see the Amsterdam Redlight district - but I don't know how much you would enjoy it.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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