The only two words of the Dutch language I know are “alstublieft” and “bedankt” (please and thankyou). So the following translation of the accompanying hand-written note is only a guestimation on my part.
The bearer of this note is obviously a complete idiot. In 2008 he came to the Netherlands and got completely lost on the train system then. Remember how we all laughed when we read his blog? Five years later he’s back and he still has no idea. If you find him, please have pity on him, and send him directly towards the ABBA Day in Roosendaal…
In case you’ve misread my rather “black” sense of humour, I’m absolutely sure it doesn’t say that, as the note was written by a very nice woman at a train station somewhere in The Netherlands.
The background story is this. I arrived at Eindhoven (on a plane from Sweden’s Skavsta Airport) around lunch time today. I’d done “some” research about where I needed to go, and from the look of things, it seemed like all I had to do was “purchase a train ticket from Eindhoven, hop on the right train, arrive at Roosendaal, and walk directly across the road to the hotel where I’m staying”.
As I found the ticket vending machines a little confusing, I thought it was best to go to the ticket counter, told them where I wanted to go, and purchase the ticket there. “That’s seventeen euros”, the nice woman said, adding “The train leaves from platform six at nine minutes past one”. So I did exactly what she said and I even used the GPS on my phone to track the journey as the train sped forth. All was going well until we suddenly took a turn to the north, instead of the south.
“Oh my goodness”, I thought to myself. “It’s happening all over again”. “How can this be? I can get quite drunk in the middle of Stockholm, and somehow the homing pigeon in me find its way home. But I come to The Netherlands and I lose all sense of direction…”
When I walked up to the counter at the next train station and explained, “I’m an idiot. I think I got on the wrong train”, the very kind woman looked at me with an understanding smile, and said “don’t worry it happens all the time”. And with that, she wrote me the note and stamped it, and told me I should show it to the conductor when he or she asks for my ticket. At first she thought I wanted to go back to Eindhoven, but when I explained it was definitely Roosendaal, she told me when it would leave and what platform I should get on.
It was then that I looked down at my ticket and noted the woman in Eindhoven had sold me a ticket to Rotterdam, not Roosendaal. I think my English is quite good, and so I don’t think I’d led her astray, I just think she couldn’t believe I was going to Roosendaal. A friend of mine has previously described it as “The Campbelltown Of The Netherlands” (a reference to its seeming remoteness from the so-called “centre of the action”. I think he’s wrong. The town is much more rural than that, not far from the border with Belgium, and I thus I would probably liken it more to Wagga Wagga, a town I’ve lived in, and loved very much.
I’m here for the International ABBA Weekend. Everyone in town seems to know about it. The man at the hotel who booked me in. The woman behind the counter at Jumbo (the local supermarket) where they were playing ABBA’s “The Day Before You Came” on the speaker system, as I walked around making a few small purchases. It’s obviously become a big deal for the town.
I have no idea what to expect from the weekend, except I’m sure it will be fun.
Even though they’ve got a pretty crazy transport system, I really like The Netherlands. All of my experiences with Dutch people have been great, and so I’m looking forward to spending a couple of days here, ahead of my trip to Iceland on Monday.