T is for Train

Or “trein” if you prefer the Dutch version.  In both cases it qualifies for my T in the ABC-Along.  Since moving to Haarlem I take the train to work every day.  I try to get the earlier trains (7:30, 7:35, 7:45) but I don’t always manage it.  If you go later, say between 7:50 and 8:30, it’s REALLY packed and you run a good chance of not getting a seat at all.  Luckily the trains between Haarlem and Amsterdam run every 5 to 10 minutes during rush hour.  I’m thankful for that!

My first challenge in the morning is finding a place to park my bike.  Here’s how crowded the bike parking is:

They’ve recently built some double decker bike parking:

To put up or bring down the bikes on top, the rack they sit in comes down, like this:

I really don’t like the double decker parking.  You either have to be tall and strong to deal with the upper deck, or a contortionist or a midget to keep from bumping your head while coping with the lower deck.  I’m short so I can’t imagine how the tall Dutch deal with the lower level!  I just go to the single level parking and try for a spot.  I’m usually lucky.

The other day I had to wrestle 4 bikes away from mine before I could get mine free.  I was pretty pissed off about that!  That’s the last time I park on the end!

Anyway, after that you have to then get to your train and jostle for a place to sit.  I’ve tried several tactics and the one that seems to be working best is to wait for the very last train car.  Most people just instinctively start walking with the train when it comes, which leaves fewer people at the very end.  

Here’s the Haarlem train station on the inside.  This year was the station’s 100 year anniversary.  There’s really nice woodworking and stained glass here.

Here comes the train!

Me first!

This is a pretty quiet morning.  Normally it’s just packed around the doors.  At least people are pretty good about letting others OFF the train first before piling in.  Most of the time anyway.

I don’t have any photos of the inside of the train.  I haven’t had the nerve to pull out my camera in a train car full of sleepy grumpy commuters early in the morning.  You’ll just have to imagine them all, noses buried in the paper, or eyes closed and head back.  Drinking coffee.  Nearly everyone with ear buds in, listening to something.  No one talks.  No one makes eye contact.  I knit.  I’m the only knitter.  I don’t care.

Getting off the station in Amsterdam is another exercise in crowd swimming.  Everyone is in a hurry.  It’s packed.  I’m getting used to it.  I miss biking in the quiet morning Amsterdam streets!

5 Comments

  1. Hi there,

    I found your blog via my friend Andy’s. I spent a couple of months doing the Haarlem-Amsterdam commute the other way round. I solved the bike parking problem by buying a folding bike (vouwfiets), which you can take on the train with you. It also means that you don’t have to walk at the other end.

    If you do go for it, make sure you test drive it before buying. Mine is pretty rubbish, which I regret, but I don’t use it enough now to justify replacing it with a better one.

    Alastair

  2. What a nice T! It’s one of my favorite things about Dutch life — now that they’re more on time than not, train travel is the best means of transportation and they know how to do it right.

  3. Hi!
    How on earth do you find your bike!! I have trouble enough finding my car in the parking lot! And the bikes all look the same! Do they have bike lanes as they do here? They must be huge to accomodate so many. How wonderful that so many do bike, must relieve alot of congestion. Imagine if they were all on the road. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had trains too? Years ago (in the 30-40’s)there was one that left here and went right to Union Square. Aheader we go, behinder we get!

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