Day 8, 12 Sep, from Deutchland to Netherlands, Pt 1

Things always look easy when you’re 10,000km away in the comfort of your home planning a major road tour on Googlemap. I was behind schedule so I had to take the train to the Dutch border. From there, I would proceed to ride Arnhem, and then to Utrecht about 70km. From Utrecht, I would head to Amsterdam the next day.

That was the plan, and you know what always happens to the best-laid plans.

And so today, I was going to be in the Netherlands! It was rather exciting.

It was also rather exciting to take a wrong turn to the train station and realizing that what I thought to be plenty of time to spare was turning out to be a panic-fest. Because the bike was fully loaded I had to take a detour up the road to get to the bridge that led to the station. The minutes started ticking by and still I had a couple of kms to go.

This staircase, located just after the bridge, had a thoughtful feature -- a gutter for cyclists to push their bikes up or down. Being fully loaded, I had to detour and, as usual, got lost.

At the station, I pushed my bike in and headed for the elevator to the track above. OK, 5 minutes to go. The elevator was agonizingly slow and repeatedly punching the buttons didn’t make it faster one bit.

Out of the elevator, I looked around and simply asked the nearest person, ‘This train, Emmerich?’ ‘No, the other side’ he pointed. Arrrgggh! Wrong side of the track … and 3 minutes to go!

Back to the agonizingly slow elevator which still didn’t move any faster despite repeatedly pressing the buttons, down to the ground floor, out of it and ….. where was the elevator to the other side of the track.

‘The elevator? the elevator?’ I asked around blindly. Then a German lady pointed me towards it and again, I was egging on the agonizingly slow elevator to hurry up.

My troubles weren’t over.

All the doors of the train were shut! Going from door to door, I was hoping for someone to come to my rescue and open the door for me but they were all somber and unmoving.

It finally hit me. I had to press the green button to open the doors. Stupid me, I thought. I pressed one and whoosh, it slid open and there facing me and a total weight of 45kgs of bike, 4 panniers, tent, sleeping bag, water bottles, Thermarest etc was ----- 2 steps up a platform about 2ft high. Damn!

Any second now, I thought the whistle would blow and I’d be 20 Euros poorer. I gathered all my strength and in a single move  worthy of a snatch-and-jerk weight lifter, I hauled the entire load up the 2 steps. Adrenaline does give you extra strength you never knew existed.

30 seconds later, the train moved off.

A sigh of relief would be an understatement indeed.

Stuck in no-man's land

Can't go up...can't go down

As I caught my breath again, I looked around and wondered where I was going to park my bike. This was a double-decker train, which explained the raised platform from which passengers went up or down. So what to do? Don’t care la. Just secure the bike to the railing and that was that. The amazing thing was, nobody cared, even though the bike was blocking one half of the exit, not even the conductor. Cool bike-friendly people, I thought.

Next: At the Dutch border, and into Netherlands…

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