A quick note on my altercation with the train ticket machine at the Holendrecht station in Amsterdam. What’s that? You’ve been to Amsterdam several times, and you don’t know where the holendrecht station is? That’s because it is the middle of nowhere. Middle of no and where. (I look forward to hearing about all the wonderful things located near the holendrecht station.) I arrived at the station via the shuttle from the lovely Lucky Lake hostel. I had spent the last week in a wonderful oasis of calm and happiness. Let’s just say, it was a harsh re-entrance to the real world.
I arrived at holendrecht, and it started raining. Pretty hard. I bid adieu to the lucky staff, and then set off to find the ticket window. Silly Julie. There are no ticket windows at the train station, just a ticket machine.
Ok fine. I will figure out how to buy my own ticket. I walked to the ticket machine feeling incredibly self sufficient. The machine doesn’t accept credit cards. No worries… I have cash. I pull out my last, wrinkled 20€ and hope and pray the machine takes it.
It doesn’t only take cash… it only takes coins. Now, my train ticket to go from Holendrecht to Rotterdam was €12.20. That’s going to take a lot of change.I already have about 3€ in change, and so I only need another 9€. No biggie, there is a flower shop and a snack stand nearby. I approach the flowers first.
Holding out my 20, eyes wide, rain dripping from the edges of the hood of my coat I appeal to the owner of the flower shop. Before I can even open my mouth to ask, he begins yellng at me. Only then do I see the sign directly over his shoulder, in English, telling me that they do not give change. Ok, snack bar it is.
Knowing what to look for this time, I approach the snack bar slowly, looking for a similar sign. I see this one immediately. Trying to be sneaky, I decide to buy a kaassouffle for just €2.50, and ask for small change back. She just shakes her head… but at least I get a few more coins. I take a moment to dig in the bottom of my purse, and find enough to allllmost get there. So close. I buy a coke, and voila. I have my 12.20, mostly in 20cent pieces, with some 1€, 2€, 50¢, 10¢, and finally four 5¢ pieces made up the last twenty cents. (This will become important…)
I make my way quickly back to the machine, trying to stay as dry as possible. Now a pro at working the machine, I begin feeding it all my money. I always put things in numerical order, it’s just a thing. So starting with the 2€ coins I make my way down the currency. I have no problems, everything is going smoothly, as it should. Until I put in the first 5¢ coin and ‘plink’ it hits the coin return dish and the machine doesn’t take it. Ok no problem, I have 5¢ coins coming out of my ears… I put in the next one…
Ok, have to look for another 20¢ coin. Or perhaps go back and buy another kaassouffle. Tears start to form, because I didn’t even want to leave Lucky Lake in the first place, and now the universe is telling me that I shouldn’t have. I furiously dig in my purse looking for one. more. coin. Finding nothing, I look back at the machine helplessly, and see ‘Your session has timed out. Your change will be returned.’ Sigh. Fine. I look expectantly at the change return cup, and nothing happens.
Eyes back to the screen. ‘You’ve paid too much. Your change can not be returned. Please go to the service desk to get your change back.’
I consider giving up. The next Lucky shuttle will arrive in just a few minutes. I’m totally wet, tired, and completely broke. No ATM to get more money, no service desk to get my money back. But I already booked my hostel in Rotterdam, and cancelling now will forfeit the first night’s cost. Nothing if not thrifty, I decide, rather miserably, to press on.
I take the photo of the machine error screen, and then board the train without a ticket.
The ticket checker lady comes by just one or two stops after I get on, and I explain my story. I show her the picture. I admit to having no ticket, and apologize. She says ok, and continues on. Everyone on the train looks at me suspiciously. The girl without a ticket. Gasp.
I arrive in Rotterdam. It is raining even harder, and I just want to curl up in my bed and take a nap nap.
But first a long walk, across the city (truthfully it wasn’t that far I was just in a bad mood) once again in the rain. Arriving at the hostel, I check in, and crash. Finally.