Last year, 2015, my wife and I decided to celebrate Christmas in Budapest. Our plan was to fly into Amsterdam, spend two nights, take the train to Prague, spend a few nights and then take the train to Budapest. We would fly home from Budapest via Amsterdam. The plan for taking the train to Prague was to take the train from Amsterdam (Schiphol) to Cologne where we would we pick up the night sleeper train to Prague. The main reason for taking the sleeper train was for the “adventure”. The train trip from Schiphol to Cologne takes about four hours. If we left Schiphol in the morning, we would arrive in Cologne in the early afternoon with plenty of time to visit the Christmas Market and the Cathedral before boarding the night train late in the evening. So, that was what we did.
About thirty minutes after departure we had to change trains in Utrecht. This is not a big deal. Utrecht does not have a big railway station. Platforms are well marked and the arriving trains well labeled. We had our tickets. We knew which car and the seats that we were assigned. The train pulls in on time. Everyone heads for the cars. We starting looking for our assigned car. The car numbers are not obvious and not sequential. After some scurrying around looking we realize that the train is leaving without us! “Oh Sh*t!”
Fortunately, this is a railway station, not an airport. Another train will be along fairly “quickly”. I told my wife to find a comfortable seat and went looking for the ticket office. I found two desk, one manned by a young guy and one by an “older” lady (older than the young guy, younger than me). She was busy, he wasn’t. So, I told him my sad tale of woe. I was very apologetic and played the clueless tourist card. He said (this is the Netherlands and everyone speaks very good English) he wasn’t sure what could be done, but I would have to explain the problem to the other lady. I recount my tale of woe. She looks at me like I am an idiot and says “You know, you can get on any car!” The light clicks on in my mind and I mentally go “Duh!” She then helps to sort out my problem and gets us on another train a few hours later.
But the rule to remember is “You can get on the train at any car!”