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(Coffee) Shop Talk

Welcome to the shop where I talk about things that go well with coffee, which is almost everything.

Dallas, Detroit, Amsterdam. What do they all have in common? Ridiculously confusing airports. I’m done flying for as long as I can possibly manage.

Amsterdam’s Schippol airport was the worst, mostly because I needed to catch a train into town as quickly as possible and couldn’t figure out how to buy a ticket. The signs around the airport were all helpfully subtitled in English, but the train ticket machine “had an English setting” only not really.

Eventually, after waiting in line for twenty minutes, staring blankly at lots of very long Dutch words, and poking all the plastic I owned into the only slot I could find, I figured out that the machine was not going to take any of my three cards (one debit, two credit–and yes, I did notify my bank and credit card company of my travel plans) and did not even have a slot for cash payment. So I wandered around the vast hall of transportation limbo for ten more minutes before finding the place where you can buy tickets from real people, but then all the signs above the teller’s windows said things in Dutch which were subtitled “credit cards with pin number only.”

European and British credit cards all have pin numbers. American ones don’t. My cards, obviously, are of the defiantly pinless variety. So how in the @#$& was I supposed to buy a train ticket, or anything else? And why had I just paid four euros to change $60 into E30 if all of Schippol had gone plastic?

Finally, I found an information booth where I found out that “credit cards with pin number only” meant that IF you were using a credit card it had to have a pin, not that you HAVE to use a credit card as I had foolishly assumed. So I got in a short, fast-moving line, said “Station Centraal” to the teller, and got my magical piece of paper for less than the machine was going to charge me.

And of course, no one on the train ever checked it.

NEXT: Traveling Pants II – What Do You THINK I did in Amsterdam?

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