Everything on ‘Experience’

Warm welcome to The Netherlands

This morning I returned from a one week holiday trip to Taiwan. After a relatively short and comfortable flight serviced by KLM, seated at the emergency exit, I exited Customs after little less than 12 hours. Considering about 1 hour and 15 minutes for taxiing, walking across the airport, standing in line at passport control and waiting at the baggage belt, this is an all-time record. The next 130km to get to Eindhoven took me 4 and a half hour, 3 hours more than normal.

One of the reasons for this huge delay caused by the Dutch railway company NS is that I arrived at the train station too early. Train service only started about half an hour later. For tourists arriving at night at an international airport like Schiphol (10th in size world wide) this is of course an immediate big disappointment. The fact that all the shops in the station hall were closed at this hour and the disgusting hygiene level of the platforms does not help prevent tourists wonder ‘What hell hole did I arrive in now?’. The train I caught to Amsterdam Central station after waiting for over half an hour, only strengthened the impression. For some reason we pick up our tourists in the most terrible trains available, even considering the fact that all Dutch train designs in general lack consideration for some basic consumer insights.

After this first experience the rest of the trip was hardly any worse. At Amsterdam I had to wait 20 minutes for the train to Utrecht. There I had to wait 30 minutes for the bus to Den Bosch. Normally there would be a train but due to scheduled train track maintenance passengers were transported by bus. Unfortunately the first bus was scheduled to depart at 7.30h, not considering any passengers arriving earlier from other stations. The bus arrived at Den Bosch at 8.12, just 5 minutes too late to catch the train to Eindhoven. After waiting a bit longer and a last 20 minute train ride I arrived at Eindhoven at 9.00h after which I took the city bus home, arriving there only 4 and a half  hours after I left the airport.

Two evenings for the price of one

Hamster weeks plastic bag from Albert Heijn

Hamster weeks plastic bag from Albert Heijn

Today I bought two evenings for the price of one. Tonight’s evening consisted of a microwave steamable meal, applepie yoghurt for desert and a tube of pringles on the couch, watching TV. The supermarket where I do my daily groceries, Albert Heijn has some special promotions of two for the price of one during what they call the ‘hoard’ weeks. They visualize this with some cartoons of hamsters who encourage to hoard carefully. Hamsters are known for hoarding. Accidentally the word ‘hamsteren’ means to hoard in Dutch. (And apparently the name of the creature is based on the similar German word “hamstern”.)

As a result of the great deal I made today, I payed only 10 euros for what otherwise would have cost me 20. In times of crisis this kind of huge savings are the welcome ones.¬† On the other hand, the microwave steamable meal was actually too small, requiring me to empty the Pringles tube in one go. And cooking my own dinner with fresh ingredients, would have been cheaper and might have resulted in a healthier meal with better taste. I might have saved even more money buying at the Lidl or any other supermarket than Albert Heijn of course, but then I would not have had such a great deal, and the satisfaction of achieving it! And I should not forget: tomorrow’s evening is already paid for…