Archive for July, 2019

Train Travel At 102 Degrees Fahrenheit

July 25, 2019 Leave a comment

I got up early in Amsterdam Wednesday morning and caught a train to Paris for a meeting, because a day trip to Paris is possible from Amsterdam. Everything went good on that trip and I made it to my meeting on time. However, it was warm as you can see from my phone’s weather app:

As the temperature continued to rise today in Europe, trains started getting delayed and cancelled. Myself and 3 co-workers had planned to be on the same train home at 5:25pm, but anticipating our own train delay, we got ourselves a table in the train station restaurant to wait it out. Our goal was air conditioning and cold beers, but once we were seated, we realized that the air conditioning unit was by the front door and nowhere else within the restaurant. Our table was warm, but better than all other options, and at least the beer was cold.

After our 50 minute delay, we made our way to where the train should be, even though the reader boards didn’t have a platform number telling us where to go. We figured it out by seeing the mass of people crowded near the only Thalys train in the station. Unfortunately, that meant all the people getting off the train had to push through the crowd trying to get to the train.

Note that the outside temperature was around 102F. Inside the train station, there is no breeze, but there is a glass roof to let the sunshine in, so everyone stood patiently waiting and sweating. I suspect it was warmer than 102F inside and amongst the crowd.

After finally getting on the train 40 minutes late, and then sitting on it waiting for to get going, we learned that we can’t leave until the air conditioning is fixed in one of the cars. Apparently if the car is over 40C, they can’t travel. And some of the doors are broken.

While sitting and waiting, they announced that due to problems related to the overheated train tracks, no trains would be leaving Paris for another hour. Therefore, we could get off the train for a while if we want. But then 10 minutes later they announced (to those of us still on the train) that we might leave soon. Lucky for those who got off, the doors and AC were still broken an hour later.

But finally, exactly 3 hours after we were supposed to leave, we departed the Paris, Gare du Nord station.

Ten minutes later, we coasted to a slow crawl. I assumed the worse, because there was no announcement; hence the assumption. However, announcements are usually only in French, because the conductor’s English is worse than my Dutch. So I think sometimes they just don’t announce anything because translating is too hard.

Eventually, they managed to announce that the train could only go 80kph due to some electrical problem. Until it came to a stop “in the middle of nowhere”, according to the conductor who gave no reason for the stop. After a while of looking out my window at a healthy looking corn field, we learned that were waiting for 2 trains heading to Paris to pass, because they’re down to 1 working train track.

By the time we pulled into Brussels at almost midnight, some people were trying to get some sleep. I should also point out that since other trains had been cancelled, some people were put on our train without a seat. So, there were people sitting at the ends of cars and some were sharing seats.

Somehow all of this is due to the heat. The news agrees too: Related, we couldn’t get a flight either, due to some fuelling problems at the Amsterdam airport:

At 12:30am, we left the Brussels train station when they announced that high-speed tracks close at midnight. Who knows why?! Given the previous problems requiring us to go slow, this probably didn’t matter anyway, but that does mean the train has to take a slower route than normal and that (for some reason), it would also be making a couple of extra stops and skipping a couple of stops. This was because we were on the “slow” tracks, which is a different route than the fast ones.

Thankfully, the conductor did not do as he had promised earlier. He had told me that food would be served after we left Brussels, but of course, he said this around 7pm. But when he told me this, I suggested to my co-workers that we shouldn’t trust the conductor’s optimism so we went to the dining car and bought a couple of sandwiches to share, a beer and the only remaining cookie and only remaining small white wine.

By 2:30am when we got to Rotterdam, my 2 remaining co-workers and I decided to get off the train and catch an Uber to Amsterdam. I eventually got home at 3:30am, and I suspect the train would have taken at least another hour.

Typical Sunday Outing

July 21, 2019 Leave a comment

Lorie likes to find a variety pack of flowers from one of the many flower vendors in the area.

And this is the result:

Amsterdam Tourist

The Heineken Horses

July 2, 2019 1 comment

It’s always fun to see the old beer wagon go by, which is a nice perk of living in Amsterdam.

%d bloggers like this: