Thursday, 7 August 2014

From Noordwijk over Schiphol to Amsterdam via beach, car, train, boat, and foot

I'm up at 5 am ( I might have to push a broken bicycle 7 km to the nearest train station) and at the beach before 6 am.

After breakfast, the hotel owner (He actually lives in Florida but is back in Holland because his son (who runs the hotel) wants to move to England with his girlfriend) makes my day by offering to drive me and the broken bicycle to Voorhout, location of the nearest train station.
This is where I discover 2 things:  
1) the Dutch rail system no longer sells tickets. They sell pre-loaded smart cards, similar to the Hong Kong Octopus card or the San Franciso Bart card.
2) at small train stations there are only machines that a) only accept coins and b) selected credit cards (OF COURSE, it doesn't accept mine )

So I ride for free  ;-)

N.B.: I find out later how it works:  The machines also sell you single-use tickets, but same dilemma with coins or credit cards.  Your ov-chipkaart must have a base amount of 20 Euros (+ your ticket amount) to work.  This you can have put on at any service centre at any major train station.  But it saves you money, e.g. 4.00 Euros for Amsterdam Centraal to Schiphol versus 5.00 Euros.  In addition, this card will work on the Dutch Rail system AND the public transport systems (buses, trams) in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and I believe other Dutch cities. A nation-wide Octopus card.   I like !!!!

I have to switch trains in Leiden, where I get enough change in a store to buy myself an OV chipcard. For some reason, the readers just keep beeping at me every time I swipe the card.
Next stop is Schiphol Airport. Again my train card keeps beeping and flashing red lights (even though it deducts money from my balance).  The nice people at CitizenM Hotel here have agreed to store my bicycle and one of my saddle bags until tomorrow, when I will check in to their hotel.  Bedankt!

Naturally, more beeping and red lights when I get back on the train in the airport terminal.  By this time I don't care anymore and am just happy that I found the right platform for the 15 minute train ride to Amsterdam Centraal.  At Centraal, the crowd in the train and in the station is younger than any crowd I have ever associated with railways.

 Pictures of the train station are actually from the following day. It started to rain when I arrived.

I step outside the station and there they are.   One look at the departure time display of the harbour tour company not 50 meters from the train station and 10 minutes after I have got off the train I am on one of those sleek boats cruising through the canals.  At 8.50 Euros for a 1 hour tour quite reasonable in my books.

There is so many boats on the water that people use hand gestures to settle the right of way. Quite a lot of boats fly this strange flag. It is the flag of Amsterdam:

really good chicken salad close to my hotel

The canal boat drops back at the main train station.
By the time I reach my hotel after a 2.5 km walk with backpack and one saddle bag I realize I should have taken one of those hop-on-hop-off boat trips to shorten the walking distance. My age is showing again ;-(

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