After 3 days in Bruges, (previous post here: https://whereisgrandma.com/2022/04/09/europe-here-we-come-it-all-begins-in-bruges-belgium/) we walked to the train station and boarded the train bound for Brussels. On board we met a family from California who gave us a bit of guidance on European trains and short connections. We had 13 minutes in Brussels to find our train for Amsterdam which turned out to be plenty of time.
Saturday, April 9, 2022
Amsterdam Centraal is a busy station and with the mapsme app we found our way to the boat (The Vita Nova) we’d reserved a “room” on. It’s tiny. Just a small bunk each and a sink and barely room to turn around. Oh well. It’s just a place to sleep and rooms in Amsterdam are pricey! The rest of the evening we spent wandering the city and enjoying the sights, (even though we were freezing! 3 degrees is cold when you don’t have your mitts and toque with you). For dinner we chose Thai. Isn’t that one eats in Amsterdam? It was delicious!
Breakfast isn’t served until 8:30 but we had a 9 am reservation for the Keukenhof gardens so we had to miss out. At the train station by 7:30 am we figured out how to get physical tickets for the 3 day transportation passes I purchased online. I got the one that included the gardens and everything and it worked out well. Get your tulip festival tickets here
So we took the train to the bus and the bus to Keukenhof where we spent the next 5 or 6 hours exploring the gardens. I think we managed to cover all of it. We did the boat tour too but I didn’t think that was really worth it. The field tulips weren’t blooming yet so it was just daffodils and hyacinths.
Next we took the bus to the train and headed for Haarlam where we wandered around and had dinner. After a full day on our feet, having eaten only a muffin for breakfast, we were starving! Haarlam is a pretty city with lots to see including some teenagers practicing their dance moves at the town square.
The train back to Amsterdam was easy and we spend some more time wandering the back streets, looking for stropwaffles. No luck with those. Apparently that’s day time food so we settled on candy and found a wonderful selection of droppies. Maybe a few will even make it home to share.
By the time we got back to our boat we’d logged 30,000 steps. Twas a good day.
The Vita Nova provided a really good breakfast of yogurt and granola, breads, cheese and meats which is nice when you spend your day walking. We got great use of our transit pass today. First we headed for Zaanse Schans, a beautiful village with some of the oldest windmills in the world, a cheese factory (of course) and lots of beautiful homes. We wandered about there for several hours, tasting every cheese we could, watching a demonstration on how to make wooden shoes, climbing a windmill and a look out tower. You could see for miles!
Next we found a bus to Edam and wandered that village for a while. More pretty houses, yet different than Zaanse Schans
Volendam was our next stop. Yet another beautiful village but this one’s on the sea and the houses are different again. It was COLD by the sea! The afternoon sun had made us feel like peeling a couple of layers of clothes but they were back on once in Volendam. After enjoying dinner inside a restaurant overlooking the sea (crazy Dutch people eat outdoors) we again found a bus heading for Amsterdam. We got off the bus closer to our accommodation so only 27,000 steps today. Hahaha!
So Today’s adventure was fun. Our transit tickets cover Amsterdam region but there’s no map or anything telling you what that is. I guess we’re just supposed to know. So we decided to go to Gouda and Rotterdam. On the train the conductor checked our tickets. That’s new but ok. Sue’s checked ok but mine wouldn’t scan. She said it was likely her machine. Got off the train at Gouda and couldn’t get out of the station. I tried pushing a button near the turnstile that said “information”. I got a recording in Dutch that didn’t sound promising. I called the number on the wall that said “for info call….”.
Out of service. We were beginning to worry we’d have to live in the train station!
We Found a conductor. She said we were out of the area and it’s not allowed on the ticket. Could be 50 euro fine. Since they haven’t had tourists in 2 years such tickets are new to many employees which is why the woman on the train who checked our tickets didn’t catch it. Also. SHE wasn’t even sure what IS covered by the ticket!
So we tried to find a train back to Amsterdam. No luck. Finally asked another conductor who said we’d have to go to Utrecht and on but it’s not allowed on our ticket. So he took us to the train and explained to that conductor who let us on and showed us to the Amsterdam train in Utrecht. We saw a lot of countryside!
So. Back at Amsterdam Central almost 3 hours later we decided to take a bus to Marken. We KNEW that was allowed on our ticket.
There we wandered the town, enjoyed a nice lunch on the waterfront and went for a good walk on the dike around the island. It’s really no longer an island as it’s connected to the mainland by a causeway
It’s not our day for transportation. We were the only 2 people on the bus from Marken and the driver spent the whole time on his phone. Not a problem till he ignores all the stops. I pushed the button AND we stood up at the door before our stop. He still breezed by. When Sue hollered at him he said “you should have pushed the button!”
Right. So we had to figure out how to get back from the last stop on the bus. It wasn’t that difficult, just time consuming and annoying.
Back in Amsterdam we finished our time here with a canal cruise, a must when in Amsterdam. Our captain was a lot of fun, full of stories and corny jokes. We grabbed a sandwich for dinner and got back around 9 pm. 28,000 steps with more than 3 hours of the day on the train…not bad. lol
So that’s it for Amsterdam and surrounds this trip. I’ll have to come back to see the rest of the Netherlands another time. Tomorrow we’re moving on to Bremen, Germany