Traveling by train to Amsterdam

Traveling by train in Europe

Rosie and I have just returned to Cape Town from a 2 months stay in Europe. We mainly stayed in the south of The Netherlands in a small village called Voerendaal. This is where I grew up and where my parents, Rosie’s grandparents, still live. From there we went on short visits and trips to Amsterdam, Munich and Maastricht to visit friends and family. Everybody was so excited to finally meet Rosie.

Traveling with a child as a single parent can sometimes be a challenge, especially if she’s still very small and can’t walk or do anything herself. On many occasions you need to ask for help unless you really don’t need to go to the bathroom for a looooong time, are never ever hungry or thirsty and don’t like to get up and stretch your legs in general. That’s not me. On a flight I drink tons of water which results in many loo-visits and yes I DO eat my airplane meal with much ‘gusto’. I’m always amazed how it is possible to offer something eatable at a height of 10 km up to about 500 people. I think we’re obliged to eat it and enjoy it!

Asking for help is not always easy but I just want to share that we encountered so much friendliness during all our travels. It was really quite extraordinary.

On our Emirates flight to Europe, a lovely couple from New Zealand was delighted with Rosie’s humming. She’s humming ‘Altijd is Kortjakje ziek’ / ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star since mid-July..) and had no problem looking after her while I was enjoying my dinner or needed to go to the loo. The couple was going to cycle for a couple of months in Europe. How awesome!

In the ICE train to Munich, an elderly lady walked with me to the bathroom so she could hold Rosie while I was doing my thing. She then went all the way with me to find the right S-Bahn in Munich and made sure we bought the right ticket. It was so super friendly and helpful.

On the flight from Amsterdam to Dubai I got a bit worried. Rosie and I sat in between 3 gentlemen… I had no expectations whatsoever. The gentleman on the right put on his headphones and just ignored Rosie and me. And of course Rosie would pull this guys’ sleeves and insisted on getting a ‘hi’. AHAHA!! So funny!

The 2 gentlemen on the left were an Arab youngster and a distinguished Indian business man. I thought: I’m on my own for this one. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Arab guy, his name was Benda, took out his iPhone and showed it to Rosie. He told me he has a 4 year old and absolutely adores his little one and how he misses him now. He was the friendliest and most helpful guy EVER!! He would have Rosie on his lap, play with her and make jokes. Nothing was too much for him. He made sure I could enjoy my dinner without little hands throwing around the dinner tray.

In Dubai he offered to help me with all the hand luggage, in fact he insisted. I couldn’t help but to get a little bit concerned. Isn’t that the first rule in international travel: NEVER EVER let anybody else but yourself handle your bags? Certainly not an Arab!! What was I thinking?? Did he have a 2nd agenda with all his friendliness? I hesitated and thanked him for the offer but I would be able to manage. He wouldn’t accept such nonsense. He would help us to get through customs onto the train to get to our next terminal and that was it. From this moment onwards I was sure this guy had stuffed my bags with some illegal drugs.

I had visions of being arrested for drugs trafficking. What would happen to Rosie if I would be arrested? Surely the officials would allow me one phone call to the Dutch Embassy, right? However this is Dubai!! Peoples’ hands are cut off if they steal something. I would simply not survive. Meanwhile I kept smiling and hoped for the best and hated myself for not being able to trust this guy because that is the norm in our society.

Of course we went smoothly through security, Benda carried a few of my bags again, accompanied us to the train, said we MUST come and visit Saudi Arabia and then he was gone after some friendly, little waves and smiles from Rosie. What a friendly and helpful man!

Have you encountered helpful and friendly people on your travels when you needed it most? I would love to hear your experiences.