Saturday, March 17, 2018

9W231: en route Mumbai VIA N80: en route London - part I

3 Oct: Last day of my first Europe visit. Me and Abhijit finished a small tour of Cologne city and returned to Wuppertal by Deutsche Bahn (DB) train at around 4 pm. Then, I needed to go to Dusseldorf again to catch a bus to Eindhoven at 10.15 pm.

But wait, I was supposed to go to Schiphol (Amsterdam airport) 12 hours before my scheduled flight time (which was 11:30 am on 4th of Oct) and stay there at the airport, right? I had booked an ICE (German version of bullet train) ticket also to travel from Dusseldorf to Schiphol.

Roll back a day

2 Oct 11 am: I was roaming in University of Wuppertal and Abhijit (Abhijit Bahirat, my friend who was hosting me in Germany) had gone for work. Suddenly, I came to know, through a friend, that, Schiphol airport does not allow passengers to stay at the airport (That is allowed only if your flight is just during the night time). But as I said, I had already booked my ticket of ICE from Dusseldorf to Schiphol on 3rd of October. I hurriedly called Abhijit from the University and asked him what to do.

I was roaming in the University of Wuppertal when I got to know from a friend, that Schiphol does not allow passengers to stay at the airport.
However, as he was at office, it was difficult for him to coordinate with me and then book the ticket from there. We searched alternatives - found an ICE from Dusseldorf to Schiphol - but that was at 4 am - so that option was ruled out! Now what to do? We decided to book the ticket only in the evening when Abhijit would return home. 

On the top of everything, I was already suffering from cold and cough due to the windy and cold weather in the hilly Wuppertal. I half-heartedly roamed around in the town before returning to Abhijit's home at around 5 pm.

Original route planned by ICE: I was supposed to reach Schiphol at 23:41 hrs. My flight from Schiphol to Mumbai was at 11:25 hrs next day. But the Schiphol airport does not allow passengers to stay at Airport during nights. Hence, the whole plan changed.
2 Oct 5 pm, Abhijit's home : We sat together to seek other options available. Trains were at 4 am on 4th of Oct and it was from Dusseldorf. It was not possible to go to Dusseldorf from Wuppertal at that time. Suitable buses were also not available. It was certainly not practical to sit outside the airport in the cold weather with the cough and cold. In fact, before flight journey of 9 hours duration, it was not a good idea to stay the airport in the first place! 

2 Oct 5:30 pm: Suddenly, I thought of another plan - I would stay at Eindhoven at Sanket's place which is sort of midway from Dusseldorf (Wuppertal) to Schiphol (see the picture). I had already visited Eindhoven last week and hence I knew that there are intercity trains every half an hour from Eindhoven to Schiphol. So now the changed plan was to go to Eindhoven; stay at Sanket's place and then go to Schiphol airport.

By that, I will have some sound sleep before I depart for India. So I asked Sanket, my friend at Eindhoven, if I can come tomorrow at his place. He agreed - hussh! So now, we started to search for tickets of bus from Dusseldorf to Eindhoven for 3rd of October. But again we had a small constraint - we had already planned long back to tour Cologne on 3rd Oct.

We searched for some bus options as well. But they were not feasible.
Meanwhile, there were two options for buses - one at around 6:30 pm and the other at 10.15 pm. We took the 10:15 pm option, so that we would get more time to roam in Cologne on the next day.  

I changed the plan where I would go to Eindhoven first before going to Schiphol airport.

Roll over to 3rd Oct again -

We completed our short tour to Cologne and came back to Wuppertal.

3 Oct 7 pm: We took a DB (Deutsche Bahn) train from Wuppertal to Dussledorf as I have to catch bus at 10.15 pm to Eindhoven. This train would take us to Dusseldorf at night in around half an hour. We reached Dusseldorf at about 8 pm.

Me and Abhijit

3 Oct 8 pm: The temperature at Dusseldorf Hbf (main railway station at the city is called Hbf) was also chilled and I was a bit upset with already having cough and cold. At the same time, I was feeling nice after trip to Netherlands and Germany and now going back to India. Now, there were handful 2 hours before us. So we went to a Thai restaurant at station itself for dinner. We had a cup of coffee at a nearby coffee-shop.

So we came out chatting with a coffee. The flixbus pick-up point is just outside Dusseldorf Hbf. So now, there we were, where I was ready to board the bus and start the return journey of my first foreign trip.

3 Oct 9:45 pm
We were at the bus stop.
Abhijit: The buses usually come late. I am not sure what will happen.
Me : Arey, take a chill pill! Do not worry. The bus will come.

3 Oct 9:55 pm
I was just re-checking whether I have proper ticket in my mobile. I had already checked it once in Wuppertal - the train time, "To" and "From" fields were all correct. 

But now as I scroll the ticket - "Oh god! What am I looking at - the name on the ticket is not mine - it is Abhijit Bahirat. Oh no man! WHAT IS THIS??

That had happened yesterday when Abhijit booked the ticket in hurry due to change of plan. So while booking the ticket through mobile-app, the mistake happened.

I showed it to Abhijit asking with a "How am I going to get the bus. Without bus, how am I going to go to Eindhoven?" And immediately, dozens of thoughts hovered through my mind - 'If I do not reach Eindhoven, how will I catch flight tomorrow? In worst case, if I am unable to catch the flight how will I cancel my ticket and book a new ticket? Will I be able to get to ICE tomorrow in worst case? How do both of us miss the name on ticket while booking!'

However, at the back of my mind, I was sure that I would reach airport tomorrow in time. This sort of gut feeling at times helps me to stay calm in panic situation (although I do get anxious and restless to some extent).

But how to go ahead now? The sim card in my cell phone was not active and no wi-fi was available nearby. So I had no internet then. Now, using Abhijit's cell phone we started to look for ticket. 

Oh Man! Those 2-3 minutes were really emergency situation for two of us. He logged in to the bus app and tried to book the ticket. There were some seats left in 10:15 bus. But his card was not working as the credit card was Indian. 

No comments:

Post a Comment