Day 21 : More fun on the train
I woke up around 6:30 and took pictures of the bushes in which we had slept.
My mattress had gotten punctured because we were lying in between thorny bushes. It was also covered in snail tracks. That wasn't the worst thing, one had gotten into my sleeping bag. We packed everything as fast as possible and cycled back to the nearest path. Someone was walking his dog, but nobody saw us. Bram changed his shirt before getting to the station, because the other one was covered in snail goo. However, this shirt stank so much that he needed to put on his jacket to mask the smell.
We went to buy tickets. There would be a train to Metz at 8:30 that we planned to take. It was indicated that no bikes were allowed. We needed to take that train, though, because the next one wouldn't leave until 15:30. The guy behind the desk wasn't sure if bikes were really not allowed and said we should just ask the conductor. We didn't have another choice, so we bought the tickets. Then we went to a bakery to buy some bread. On the way there I noticed Bram's jacket was also covered in snail goo. During breakfast we cleaned our clothes as good as possible so we would have a fighting chance that the conductor would let us on the train.
When the train arrived it turned out to be a regular train, of the type that usually allows bicycles. We just hopped on, the conductor didn't mention anything. We went to Mentz and then to Luxembourg, where it took a while before the train to Liege left. We wanted to find a place to sit down at the station because it would take an hour before the next train would leave. There was only one bench with a drunk guy on it. We put our bikes down just at the moment someone else sat down. We sat down on either side of him, curious about how long he would handle the smell. That was not that long because his train arrived. Ours arrived shortly after. When the conductor walked by he told us that we were in 1st class, which looked more like 3rd class. The train from Luxembourg to Liege was a local train and stopped over ten times. We tried to do some sudokus from a book we bought in Metz. We had chosen the most difficult one and could only solve two during the entire day.
De hele dag in de trein
In Liege we had a good connection to Maastricht. We were in a carriage full of old Dutch people. They complained about everything, first that the train connections were terrible and they sometimes had to wait 20 minutes! We thought that was funny because we had waited over 2 hours several times. I told bram, "I bet that before we leave they will have started complaining about how expensive everything is nowadays compared to the good old days". First, they talked about the price of petrol, then about how everything had gotten more expensive, unfortunately guilders didn't get mentioned. From Maastricht it would only take one more train to Eindhoven. It was around 19:00 and we were sure there would be a few more trains going in that direction. The departure sign didn't show any though. I wanted to investigate further, but Bram noticed a train to Eindhoven that would leave in 2 minutes.
We didn't have time to buy tickets. We put our bikes on the train and wanted to purchase tickets from the conductor. That was what we had done in Belgium several times. The conductors got angry and said it would cost us each 35 euros extra to buy them on the train. Of course we didn't want that. Instead, we were allowed to ride for free to Sittard and then buy tickets while the train stopped. That was ridiculous. Charging 35 euros for one minute of work is already stupid enough, but now we could stay on the train for free and pay less than we normally could have.
If I would go to buy tickets and wouldn't make it back in time, Bram would end up in Eindhoven with two bikes and I wouldn't be able to cycle home from Sittard. We concluded that it would be best to both leave the train and take our bikes out. As soon as the train stopped I ran out. I went to one side of the station, which did not have ticket machines. The other way, down the stairs, I found one. I quickly chose: day tickets > Eindhoven > 2 persons > no discounts > today. I then paid. Then: other tickets > day pass bikes > 2 and pay again. That all worked within one minute. Quickly I ran back up the stairs. Halfway up I heard the conductors blow their whistles.
I quickly picked up my bike while Bram ensured the doors couldn't close. We barely managed to get in on time, so we had at least a little luck with today's trains. There were three conductors on the train. Two of them walked straight to us to check our tickets. I presented them with due pride. Later the 3rd conductor also came by. In Eindhoven, we were finally released from the trains. We also met our friend Frank, who happened to get off the same train. He had been mountain biking in Limburg. We quickly cycled home.
Distance cycled : 25 km.