Monday, January 6, 2014

Day 127: The Upside to being Ignorant

Sometimes it helps to be a small, confused, Canadian girl.

I'm on a train from Heerenveen, in Friesland (a northern province of the Netherlands)  and I'm heading down to Amsterdam for a few days. While I love the holland train system (fast, comfortable, understandable) I don't like their method of buying tickets. To buy a ticket online or at a ticket machine at the station, you have to have a Dutch bank card.

Obviously, I don't have a Dutch bank card, and neither my British nor my Canadian Visa cards work in the machines. So that means I have to buy tickets at the office and pay an extra 50 cents fee.

That's fine with me, except... the Heerenveen train station doesn't have an office. There're just ticket machines, which my cards don't work in, and which don't accept cash.

So there I was, in Heerenveen, with a bundle of cash in my pocket and no way to convert it into a train ticket. I asked the lady at the convenience store what I could do, and she said to buy a ticket on the train. This worried me, because I had heard that you couldn't buy tickets on Dutch trains like you can on British ones. However, I really had no option, other than accosting someone at the station and asking them to buy me a ticket. 

I got on the train and waited nervously. In fact, I even considered sitting in the bathroom the entire 1.5 hour train ride to avoid the conductor... 

Soon enough, he showed up. I was closest to the door, so he walked right up to me.  I asked straightaway "Can I buy a ticket?" He just looked concerned, said he'd come back to me, then went and collected tickets from all the other passengers in the car.

I sat there and prayed until the conductor came back and sat across from me. He asked me why I was in holland, then explained that in the Dutch system, to buy tickets on the train costs an extra fine of €35 (approximately $50). Certainly not what I wanted to hear!

However, he then said that, since I hadn't known about the rule, he would get me my ticket and waive the fee! So I paid him in cash (he even managed to give me change) and thanked him profusely.

And that is reason #10987 why it pays to be a small, confused, Canadian girl. Because train conductors take pity on you and don't fine you. 

Dank u wel, Mr. Train Conductor. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes, it does help to be a confused tourist by times. We, too, found the system of buying train tickets most aggravating. As a matter of fact, we found the whole Dutch banking system most aggravating. Ah well, a country can't be perfect ;) Have a wonderful time and be sure to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam!