Joe College wrote this little piece on the way home last night---
I headed home this weekend and was confronted with the usual delays and re-routing you get with the NS (Dutch Railway) but it wasn't so bad this time!
At Amersfoort, which is almost midway, I stowed myself and my suitcase in the train to Zwolle where I found myself in the midst of a horde of Project X-revelers. I found myself standing next to a candidate for the committee of the Batavia Race who was wearing full regalia: helmet, shield and baton.
“The Batavierenrace is a student relay race organized in the Netherlands each year in April. It is a 185 km race starting off at the Radboud University Nijmegen in Nijmegen and it takes the up to 8000 participants in 25 stages (17 men's stages and 8 women's stages) through Germany to the campus of the University of Twente in Enschede. It was listed in 2006, in the Guinness World Records as the relay race with the highest number of participants. On April 24 2010 the 38th edition of the race was held.
Although mainly a Benelux event, teams from all over the world participate. The start is at the midnight hour on a Friday and ends late in the afternoon of Saturday. All participants wear a slipover, which functions as the baton and also hosts a transponder that registers the stage times. The stages range between 3–12 km in length, over paved and unpaved terrain. Due to the large amount of participants the start is divided in six groups and there are three restarts along the way, in Ulft (Dinxperlo till 2011), Barchem and in the city centre of Enschede. As much as it is sports event, it is a social happening, with the athletes and teams ranging from highly trained to those participating "just for the fun of it". Saturday night is host to one of the largest student parties in Europe with over 12000 visitors.”
– From Wikipedia
Althouth the race is run in April, the organizing committee has to go through some sort of initiation this time of year. This involves them dressing like Batavians and doing all sorts of silly things. This particular Batavian had to lie in a baggage rack, greet people at the airport and hug a police officer. The Dutch police are used to this kind of thing, so no arrest ensued. I finally get a seat next to a woman who it turns out, is also travelling to Hengelo. She manages the shooting gallery at the Hengelo Carnival, which is on until Sunday.
Coming into the station at Zwolle, I see the train to Deventer is full to the gills and Annie Oakley and I decide instead to travel east over Nijverdal. From Zwolle we share the train with a bunch of women (of a certain age) who are obviously on a 'Girls Night Out'. Why they would choose to have a girls night out in Nijverdal is beyond me, but that's where they were headed. They proceeded to entertain us by singing loudly and carrying on a rather lewd conversation which I understood, but Annie Oakley, who doesn't speak dialect, did not. I almost busted a gut from laughing.
Just past Heino (never heard of it? Don't feel bad, most people haven't.) I see a large farm, complete with a herd of deer and lamas. No, I was not drinking. There really were lamas in the pasture with the deer.
Once we arrived to that hole in the ground they call Nijverdal West we had to get take a bus across town to get to the train station.
One more time, and with feeling, I board the train; this time full of Project X people, who will disembark at Almelo and catch a bus northward. I am happy to sit for a while and wish them a good trip.
Finally, I arrive in Hengelo, where I see two familiar faces who'd made a similar journey to mine. We take a moment to exchange sentiments about the service of the NS the past three weeks and I get on one last bus to take me home.
Its great to be home. It was an adventure getting there though.
All images from Google except photo of "Hengelo"