|For the last 10 days (July 6-16) (I'm really behind on my journal), I have been in Leiden, the Netherlands. I obtained a housesitting/pet sitting assignment through the website mindmyhouse.com. Leiden is a city southwest of Amsterdam. I have been sitting for Leon, the dog, and Duchess, the cat. My home has been a small four bedroom two bath townhouse with a small patio near to a very nice canal. It's been very nice taking Leon for his walks by the canal. I am showing you pictures of the canal where there are several benches to sit and enjoy the view of boats passing by and across the canal there are pastures with cows. On Sunday afternoon it was quite a spectacle. It seems that the past time here is for people to take their boat and cruise on the canal on Sundays when the weather is nice. Also along this canal is a bike path. If you have never before been to the Netherlands, everyone rides bikes here. The number of bikes far exceeds vehicles here, and the bike riders definitely have the right-of-way. Interestingly, almost no one wears a bike helmet except cyclists who are cycling on speed bikes for exercise. At times you'll see entire families. One parent typically will have a small seat in front of the handlebars in which an infant rides, with a regular bike seat behind her with a toddler, and her older children will be riding behind on their own bike. Sometimes one of the parents has a bike that has a bin in the front with one or more children sitting in the bin. Many people ride their bike to the train station and take the train to work. At their work train station, they also keep a bike so when they arrive at that station they have a bike to ride to their office. Train stations have bike parking lots like we have vehicle parking lots. They're massive with thousands of bikes parked in them.
Well, I guess it is time to provide yet another SAT story. I'm putting this historical SAT story to paper as it is one I've told many people and it gives the backdrop to many SAT adventures. I have to take you back in time to January 2013. Matt and I went on his graduation trip to Budapest, Vienna and Prague. When we arrived in Vienna, at the train station, I purchased for us each a three day transportation pass out of the machine. I had read in a travel book that this was the best way to go because we could ride unlimited times on the trams and buses. We would be there for three days, so it seemed perfect. Also, I recall reading in the travel book that it was convenient because you did not need to validate the ticket. As it turns out, I did not quite read that part correctly.
If you have ever been to a country in Europe, you will know that the transportation system is different in almost every country. Sometimes, the transportation situation is different in different cities of the same country. For example, in some countries, you can get onto a city bus and pay the driver your fare. In other cities, the driver does not take money or provide tickets. You have to have either already have a bus pass or a ticket that you purchase at, for example, the tobacco shop. In the Netherlands, you can purchase a OV chip card which looks like a credit card and you can load it with money and each time you get on to a bus or go to the train station you simply put your card against the Reader when you get on and also when you get off. When you sign out it deducts the appropriate amount from your card. Alternatively, the bus driver will take your money for your fare, but you will spend more money this way. Also at the train station you can buy a ticket for the train ride. Since I'm talking about the Netherlands I will add that you have to have at least 20€ on your card in order to check in for a train ride. Also, before you use your OV chip card the first time for a train ride, you need to go to a kiosk and elect whether you want to travel 1st class or 2nd class so in the future when you check out at the train, it knows how much to deduct for your fare. (I didn't know about this because when I was in Amsterdam last year I used the OV chip card of my hosts which was already used on a train and set for 2nd class. So when I bought my own this trip, and I tried to check in at the train station, it would not give me the green light. I had to ask an agent and she told me and helped set it for 2nd class at the kiosk. Geesh just when I though I was becoming a savvy traveler instead of a SAT.)
So anyways, I digressed again. Going back to January 2013, Matt and I had purchased our three day ticket and had cruised all around Vienna and it was time for us to go to the train station from our hotel and take the train to Prague. We got on the bus by our hotel towards the train station. The bus was quite full, so Matt and I were standing with our suitcase. All of a sudden a man standing at the front of the bus pulled open his shirt and shouted something in German and said "control!" and everyone started scrambling into their pockets and purses. Matt and I had no idea what was going on and we were looking around and we noticed that the man had a little scanning machine and people were handing him their bus pass or ticket. I said to Matt oh he is checking for peoples tickets. It should be noted here that it would be very easy to get on a bus in Vienna with no ticket and because the driver does not check nor does the diver sell tickets. The risk of not having a ticket is having this guy get on the bus and check for tickets. In any event we figured out that he was checking for tickets so I dug the ticket tickets out of my wallet and Matt and I handed our ticket to the man when he got to us. He said something in German and we both looked at him like deer in the headlights and we said "huh?" and then he spoke in English and said your ticket has not been validated. I said oh I have the receipt and I produced the receipt showing the date and time that I purchased the 3 day passes. He said that we did not validate them and I said that we did not need to since it was for three days. At this point the bus arrived at a bus stop (not the train station bus stop) and the man told us we had to get off the bus with him. So we took our suitcase off the bus and continued the conversation. He proceeded to inform us that the first time we used the three day ticket that we had purchased we were supposed to have validated it by inserting the ticket in to the little machine on the bus the first time we got on the bus. This would then date stamp date and time stamp the ticket which would mean that it was good for 72 hours from that date and time. I told the bus police man that I did not realize that we had to do that but that he could see from the receipt that I still had that we had purchased the tickets within 72 hours and that we were now on our way out of Vienna on the train. The guy said that the penalty for not having a validated ticket was €150 per person. He let us go. Matt and I will never forget this experience. I was sweating it. We now joke around whenever we see a police bus guy get on the bus and we say "CONTROL!!" And, you would think that I would have learned my lesson. Nope.
From my Italy journal entries I didn't tell you that when my sister and I were in Cinque Terre, we bought a train ride ticket for four euros each between two of the lands. We know that you were supposed to validate the ticket at the station before getting on the train. There are no validation machines on the train or on the platform. Well, we got the ticket and saw that the train was coming and we ran towards the train saw there was no validation machine around and jumped on the train without validating our ticket. Mind you, we had taken probably three or four of these little rides within the last couple days and no train police were to be found. Of course, this time, when we did not validate our ticket, the train police were on the train I saw the lady coming and I said oh no to my sister so I decided to go to the lady and tell her that we did not validate our ticket but that we bought a ticket. Best defense is a good offense I figured. When she got to us she said well because you told me the fine will only be five euros instead of €50. So we each had to pay a five euro penalty. Sigh.
So during my stay in Leiden one day I went to Gouda. I love taking the city bus even though it's a long ride because you go through all sorts of neighborhoods and countryside. I was pretty much the only person on the bus for a part of the ride and I always sit in the very front seat so I can have a good view and I started talking to the bus driver, as usual, we had a very nice talk and I was so busy talking to him that when when I arrived in Gouda, I forgot to tap my card on the way off the bus. I realized this a few minutes later but he was already gone. On my way home I asked at the station what was going to happen and I got penalized 4€. I also got charged for a ride all way to the end of the line, which is where I went anyways so that did not matter. SAT.
I have a few pictures from Gouda that I will post separately.