Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Riding the Train

By the time this is posted I will have arrived in Aarhus and found my latest couchsurfing host for the evening, hopefully. If this afternoon and evening go anything like this morning has been, I’ll make it there but barely. Travel is supposed to have a few bumps along the way, right?

I wasn’t nervous about my train trip this morning. Alice had explained everything to me fairly well. I would take the S-Tog, line E into Copenhagen and then transfer to a Tog (train) that would take me to Aarhus. She let me know that the Copenhagen train station was a bit confusing, but that if I found my way to the top of the station and read the reader boards I would be fine. Now, the S-Tog leaves Hillerod every 10 minutes. I had planned to get on the one leaving at 7:52 and arrived in plenty of time to do so. I saw that train and boarded. Little did I know that I had boarded the train departing at 8:02 and the 7:52 train was next to me on the other track. Oops!

No big deal though, the 8:02 departure would still get me to Copenhagen with 9 minutes to figure out my connection – should be enough time, right?

I arrived in Copenhagen, got off the train, and headed up to the terminal to find a screen with departure information. I read and read and read, but could not find my train. Alice had told me the train would most likely be on tracks 1-6 and I was near track 22. I walked toward the lower numbers and tried to find my train. I found a train headed for Aarhus that was on track 1. I wasn’t exactly sure if it was the right train, but I still had 5 minutes, and it probably was, right? (By now I’m sure you can guess that it was not the right train) Even though I do not speak Danish I can still “match” the names of the trains and this one did not match. Hmm. I asked someone on the track who tried to help, but didn’t work for the train station, so he couldn’t help me much.

At this point, it was 8:49 and I had one minute to find my train. I was not feeling very good and was trying to come up with my plan of action since I figured I had missed my train. I could go cry at the ticket desk and beg them to let me on the next train, or I would just have to pay another $40 or so to get on it. So much for trying to save money! As I entered the terminal I decided to check the board one last time and see if I could figure out which track my train was on, and maybe (by some small stroke of luck) it was running late. This time I was able to find my train and ran down the escalator onto the track. A conductor was standing at the doors and I quickly asked, “is this the right train?” Thankfully it was! Joyfully I boarded the train. As the doors closed behind me, a wave of relief washed over me; now to find my seat.

Again, not being able to read Danish this proved to be more difficult. I asked another attendant who informed me I was in the wrong car and needed to be in number 22 – I was in 11. So I began to walk the length of the train. I came to some darkened doors that read, “do not disturb the conductor while driving.” To my American brain, this meant that the doors led to the conductor’s area, an area I did not want to go. So, I turned around and found my way to seat 22 thinking maybe that was what they had meant when had asked where my seat was.

I sat down and began to unpack my computer when I decided to ask one last time if I was in the right place. A nice man sitting next to me informed me that I was in the wrong “wagon” and needed to continue down the train to the next one. Again, I came to these darkened doors and was rather confused. Determined to figure it out for myself instead of asking one last time for help, I began to touch the doors (this is how you get them to open). Nothing happened. I touched again, and again, and again. Still nothing. I sighed, gathered my strength and told myself to get my act together and figure this thing out! I’m a college graduate, it shouldn’t be this hard! Finally I touched the right area of the doors to cause them to open and voila! I could see “wagon” 22. Again, a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

As I entered the car and found my way to seat 45 (not 22 as the man in the previous car informed me) I discovered that someone else was already seated there. Great, just great. I showed my ticket to the individuals seated in the area and they all agreed I was in the correct place and the other person was not! He quickly moved while I unloaded my pack and put it on the shelf above the seats. I took my place and could finally settle in, check my e-mail, and relax for the next three hours while I rode to Aarhus.

While it is true that there are internet hotspots on the train, there is a fee for it. I decided I would buy 30 minutes for 30kr (essentially $0.19/minute) so that I could get a few things taken care of before I arrived in Aarhus. I had also told Eddie that I would chat with him online once I got on the train. Well, apparently they don’t have a lot of non-Danish speaking people who ride the trains (which makes sense) because in order to purchase the information everything is written in Danish and the area where you input your address is in Danish format (of course).

It’s not a huge crisis for me not to be able to be online – I’m a big girl, I can occupy my time in other ways, but it’s just another alteration from “the plan.” I texted Eddie to let him know that I would not be able to call him from the train since we’re also not supposed to use cell phones while in the cars so as not to disturb the other passengers. I hope he received it but do not know for sure since I have not received anything back from him. I am just thankful to be on the right train, heading in the right direction and not lost in Copenhagen. This morning has definitely been an adventure for sure.


Susan said...

Oh, adventures in transportation! Sounds like you are having a great time, despite all the confusion and unplanned craziness. Enjoy your time over there!

gail said...

Crisis averted!
Thankfully - just the beginning of near misses probably. I am praying for traveling mercies for you daily.... hugs!

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