Minen Damen und Herren is the phrase that begins every announcement since we arrived in
Amsterdam 2 days ago having been unable to resist the lure of this enchanting part of Europe. Every time we decided we were too short of time for we saw an article or had a first hand report on how charming it is and so we had to go. And well worth the trip it is. Amsterdam
We had a bit of a turbulent introduction to rail travel in Europe getting to
Amsterdam when the second of our 2 trains broke down one stop out of . We got on another train and then changed trains again as planned. However this train was so full it was standing room only even in first class and we found ourselves wedged into the overflow section of our carriage along with 8 other travellers and the kiosk for at your seat service – and that was not going anywhere on that trip. The kiosk operator told us that if we got off this train at I forget where already and wait for the second train going to Brussels to come to platform 16 we would have a more comfortable trip and also arrive before the current train as our new train would not be stopping everywhere. Amsterdam
We decided to take her advice, spent a sort of anxious 15 minutes feeling a bit stranded in the middle of somewhere but not knowing exactly where until the predicted train arrived and was everything she’d promised, and so we finished our trip in first class comfort.
Somehow they manage to prop each other up and stay standing with the aid of some modern engineering – every house has metal bolts through the walls. Each house is equipped with a built in crane at the roof so furniture can be hauled up the outside and through the windows as no space was allowed between or within for such things. The stairs are also extremely steep and narrow to save space. (see photo of our Hotel stairs to reception).
We decided that half the bikes are abandoned since they had flat tires or rusting frames but there never seemed to be any fewer bikes parked anywhere no matter how many cyclists there were. The overall effect was to me one of a ramshackle and easy going place.
was blessedly free of queues and crowds and despite having an incomprehensible (to me) tram system we really appreciated instant access to everything once we found it. Between the bikes and the trams and busses there is not much traffic and the single lane roads seemed enough for easy driving. Amsterdam
As we had no reservations the first thing was to find a room and we did this easily through matching a Lonely Planet recommendation of Nadia Hotel to an entry at the automated info booth in the station. Unable to phone we hailed a cab and just turned up – the stair case was indeed precipitous and the energetic staff did haul our bags up it for us cheerfully informing us on the way that exercise was included free of charge. 10 minutes and a complementary welcome drink later we had a charming room on the third floor with a stunning view of the canal and Westkirke – which meant our bed-side clock was on a clock tower just out the window and we were treated to discordant chimes every 15 minutes and a lengthy melody with the hour bells every half hour – Listen though we did we could never figure if it was the same tune twice and I was relieved that it faded into the background at night and did not wake us once.
As I write we are rocketing through
Germany at 298kph on the ICE train very glad we went to and there I will leave you til next time as once again time has run out. Amsterdam