Day 23. Trains from Duisburg to Utrecht. Missed connections and grumpy Dutch conductors.
Distance 5km on bikes lots more in the train
We awoke to hear the bad news. The train was still running late despite having made up some time since Kolding. The maitre d' was not sure if the connecting train in Duisberg would wait, he hoped it would but had no information. We ate our breakfast and then I showered and we headed in good time to the bike compartment.
Alas on arriving in Duisburg we discovered together with a number of other cyclists wanting to go to The Netherlands that the connecting train was long gone. We re-booked but discovered that it would take another four changes to get to Utrecht. Ho hum.
In Germany we had few problems. The conductors looked at all the bikes ruefully and told us to spread ourselves around the train as best as we could. We used small local trains which fortunately as it was Sunday were not very full. We ended up chatting with a couple who had been touring with a five year old child. Interesting to see it was possible.
We lost touch with them finally on arrival in Venlo. Ah we were on 'home' territory. Rushing across the border we the ten or so other cyclists struggled to find a place to put their bikes. We ended up halfway down the train and another couple in the next carriage.
In sharp contrast to the German conductors the Dutch ones were not terribly accommodating. Ignoring the fact that we were tired and on our third train since Duisburg they told us we would have to get out at the next station and find a bike compartment. To describe their manner as brusque would be an understatement indeed.
A little concerned we asked the Dutch couple in the next compartment. Their reading of the situation was that the conductors, having said their piece, would not come and check again, so we could just stay where we were. This was indeed the case, but a shame that whereas the conductors in Norway, Denmark and Germany had been generally helpful, the Dutch ones seemed more to be interested in covering their own arses than anything else.
Finally after a change in Eindhoven we arrived in Utrecht. The lifts from the platform were working and we walked our bikes out to the taxi rank and whizzed down the ramp. Ten minutes later the adventure was over and we were glad to be home, albeit three hours late.