Logistical Adventures Abroad
Getting routine things done in another country can on occasion be more complicated than at home. Is it due to different (or less?) organization than at home? Is it only because you are a foreigner and aren’t familiar with things and don’t speak the language? I think it just depends on the place…and you. Generally, your skills at getting things done abroad will improve with experience, but here is a recent experience of mine, all in the context of taking a short weekend trip, to the contrary.
Feel free to speculate about the reasons (“lack of planning”, “unfamiliarity with some basic train facts”, “absentmindedness”, take your pick). I like to think that while it would be nearly impossible to avoid situations like these completely, the key is not to take it too seriously.
I turned up at one railway station ten minutes before the train I wanted to take left – this had never been a problem before. This time, however, my train was sold out. No problem: I took the bus to the other station, and bought a ticket for a train that left two hours later from that station. Then, however, I had time to kill, so I went to – you guessed it – an Internet café. At least I could begin to take care of some of the stuff on my agenda for the weekend so I’d have more time to relax once there.
At the appropriate time, I returned to the station. My train wasn’t on the board, so I didn’t know which track it departed from. I asked at one of many many windows; the woman told me track two. But there was a different train listed for track two at that time. She shrugged, so I went to track two. It was getting close.
Over at track two, there was no sign for my train (and also no sign of my train). But there was another train. I asked a conductor about my train, but he had no idea – except that the train on track two wasn’t my train. I went back to one of the windows; they’d been helpful before, but not everyone can give information. In fact, most windows can’t – you have to go to the information window, which is usually either well-hidden or, in my experience, just not the one that I’m at. So this woman sent me to information with about three minutes to spare. Information told me “Go to track two”. I made it just in time to see my train pull in and almost immediately leave…