Douwe Osinga's Blog: June 2006

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The last train to Milan

One thing I am not particulary good at, is to accept things that are not very logical. Last weekend I was in Milan and I needed to get back to Zurich. I had missed the last train by a couple of minutes and was walking along the tracks to make sure it had really left, this being Italy after all, when I came across a train leaving for Dortmund in a quarter of an hour, passing by Belizone. In my mental picture of Switzerland any such train had to pass Zurich by not too great a distance but still my routeplanner insisted that the only way of reaching the largest city of Switzerland before the 7 o'clock express involved waiting four hours on a forsaken station in the middle of the night.

The unfriendly lady of the Italian railways refused to sell me a ticket to Zurich saying there were no more trains to Zurich and I should come back tomorrow. My pleas that maybe I wanted to break my journey in Belizona and continue to Zurich with the earliest train possible fell on if not deaf ears then certainly no longer understanding ears. Belizone it was.

The signs at the tracks threatened that the next stop after Belizone would be in Karlsruhe safely in Germany and about three hours after I estimated this train to pass Zurich, but I decided to board anyway. As it turned out, I was right. The train also stopped at the Swiss German border where my passport was checked and I therefore woken up. I quickly got off the train to find myself in the German part of Basel. It was only about an hour walk to the Swiss railway station where I had to wait 70 minutes for the first local train departing in the direction of Zurich. I had to change trains in some small town and succeeded in missing the connection by not paying attention and being tired and finally arrived at home around 6:30 in the morning. And to think they had almost lured me into taking a comfortable hotel in Milan and the fast train in the morning.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The rumors of this blogs death are exaggerated

From the looks it seems this blog might be nearing its end. Postings are further and further apart and are much lacking a uniform theme. It has been a long time in coming. This blog was always mostly about hacks and projects with random thoughts inserted in between. No new projects because of my now working for Google makes the thoughts stick out weirdly. Anyway I am not quite ready to throw in the towel, so here's a what happened to me this weekend.

We had a wedding in the Netherlands. A fancy wedding. In a country house. All very nice but not easy to reach by public transport, so we found ourselves in a bus that we taken more because it was the only bus within half an hour, than that we were so sure it was going in the right direction.

Frequent bus riders know how often there is one person sitting in front of the bus talking to the driver, someone not quite right. They ride the bus and talk enthusiastically about different routes or longingly of yesteryears perfect time table. Sometimes it's a fat looking girl in her early teens with presumably a not so secret crush on the driver, but in our case it was a middle aged guy with an impressive beer belly and a scary scar on his brow. When we came in he had some kind of slight dispute with the driver, my money would be on him not having his public transport card on him. The beer was heavy on his breath, but when the driver looked doubtful after we mentioned the name of the country house, he jumped up explaining to the driver how to get there, maybe thinking there was a slight chance the driver would change his route for us; I was wearing quite a fancy suite after all. The driver just nodded and dropped us ten minutes later off near a road side restaurant. He said that at least we could ask at the restaurant for a cab, but our barrel bellied bus rider insisted he would get off with us and point us how we should walk. That way he would make it up to the bus driver. Whatever it was that needed making up.

So we got off and pointed us in the direction of a country road that looked like the place where they find the pretty couple murdered after three weeks and if looked closely our guide looked quite a bit like the confused man the police had taken in for questioning about said couple. Plus my new shoes were hurting and the country road had to be followed for 15 minutes before taking a left so we made for the road side restaurant and ordered a cab. While waiting outside we ran into our guiding friend. He and me both felt guilty. Me about having accused him of murder if only in thought. He, he really seem to feel bad that we had decided on a cab and kept saying how it was all his fault, while we insisted that there really wasn't any problem.

After a while he settled down and confessed that he had drunken 26 beers because he was nervous for the match the next day. He had once lived on a country house. Very big and nice. It was owned by his brother but he had made it pretty. But then his brother died and his sister in law had kicked him out. Now he just rode the bus and drank beer. 8 every day. Except for today. Today he had drunk 32. Because of the match. When the taxi arrived I wished I was Carmiggelt.