Today's experience absolutely confirmed our decision to travel Europe by bicycle. Our first attempt to take the train with bikes just well may be our last; it was an absolute fiasco! Out first mistake was to buy the tickets at the station where, it turns out, they only sell the most expensive options. The second mistake was not ours, however, but that of the *insert appropriate German expletive * at the ticket counter who sold us tickets for both ourselves and our bikes on a train that does not in fact take bicycles. Imagine our confusion when we arrive at the platform for our connecting train to Dusseldorf and ask in which car we can put our bikes!
Miles masterfully kept his cool as he explained the situation to the highly dubious man at this station's ticket counter, who ultimately printed us tickets for the three more trains we would need to take and refunded us the difference. Fortuitously, Miles had picked up a few mini bottles of wine (complete with attached glasses, bless you Europe!) and we indulged ourselves on the second train of the day. Good thing, because the real excitement turned out to be on the fourth and final train from Venlo across the boarder and to Dusseldorf.
We actually would have missed this train due to the late arrival of train number three, but apparently it never came. We waited out the time till the following train casually chatting it up with Paul, a Berliner with lots of good advice about Germany and European destinations in general. Just as our train was due to arrive, an announcement over the loudspeakers prompted a mad dash to another platform! There was enough time for anyone moving at a clip to get there before the train, but with our loaded bikes we were constrained by the need to take a single occupancy elevator down from the current platform and then a second elevator up to the new platform.
It was close but we got the platform in time for the train, ready to settle in for an afternoon snooze, or so we thought . . . This train was at double capacity and full to the max! We ran our bikes down the platform past car after car already containing bikes and with people waving us on. We reached the last car as the train was about to leave and it was now or never. With a stream of apologies accompanied by an insistent parting of the crowd we barely wedged ourselves and bikes into the entryway, much to the very apparent, loudly vocalized chagrin of everyone around us.