train travel tactics

[The following strategy does not work in countries where wine consumption in a public train is seen as offensive.]

We’re in Holland, the year is 1990. Every other Saturday, I travel from Hengelo, Overijssel, to the Conservatory in the Hague for maintenance of their harpsichords. The train trip takes 2 1/2 hours, the work day lasts from about 10 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. After that, I have seen seven harpsichords and three spinets, replaced a bunch of broken plectra, resolved one or two action dramas (harpsichord action, that is) and regulated one of the instruments more thoroughly. A substantial change of focus is now overdue, while a boring flat-country train trip on a Saturday afternoon is not a great prospect at all.

One wants to have a nice time, one wants to save money (no restaurant…) and one wants to spend the trip in a pleasant way. Here’s how:

I walk to the central station, ten minutes. I enter the shopping center with the guilt-inducing name Winkelcentrum Babylon. I buy:

1 piece of quiche lorraine
1 croissant
1 piece of aged Brie
1 piece of Morbier cheese
2 small pieces of different kinds of paté
1 half bottle of petit chablis or other pleasant no-nonsense dry wine

(I have thought of bringing a cork screw, a paper plate, a glass and a bunch of Belgian comic books. The train leaves 15 minutes later.)

End of story. I just mean to say, there’s no real reason to go for a chewy section of yesterday’s baguette with a squorched tomato wedge on top of a wilted lettuce leaf on top of a sad slice of dead smoked animal, a small can of Heineken for the price of three, and “coffee” in a paper mug.


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