I started the European trip at St. Pancras station in London. I’ve never taken the train from St Pancras International before. The process is very similar to the airport. You check in, go through the screening process and then you have a little chat with the border guards from France. It’s pretty straight forward. The part that threw me off was when I had to wait for the train. It took a few minutes for the information to show up on the monitors. Until then, people were just sitting around. It was fairly crowded since no one knew exactly which platform they were going to. Then once the information showed up, there were hundreds of people walking around, trying to get to their platform.
I boarded the Eurostar train from London to Brussels Midi. And then switched over to the Thalys from Brussels to Amsterdam.
The ride was fairly quick. The train was going so fast and it was so smooth that I sort of lost track of time. I dozed off a bit and by the time I woke up, we were already through the “Chunnel” and somewhere in France. There was a stop at Gare de Lile Europe station before moving on. I thought it was a direct train to Brussels so I almost got off the train. At this stop, the passenger sitting next to me got off the train so I had both seats to myself. Not that it mattered but it did help with sleeping on the train.
I thought that my stop in Brussels would be a quiet one but then I remembered that I had to get my Eurail pass validated. Luckily, there were staffs at the train exit who pointed me in the right direction so validating my pass was pretty quick. Getting to Amsterdam was a breeze.
Once I arrived at Amsterdam Central, I had to find my way around. I tried to purchase a ticket from the machine but for some reason it kept asking me for my final destination but my final destination wasn’t listed. The girl at the information both told me that I could purchase a ticket on the tram. That’s what they call light rail here in Amsterdam. The driver asked if I wanted a one hour ticket or a 24hr ticket. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the rest of the day so I opted for the one hour ticket. It was enough to get me to my hotel and then back to Amsterdam Central. In the end, my hotel wasn’t that far anyway so I just walked everywhere.
After settling in to my room, I went back out and explored Amsterdam. There city was busy with tourists and locals moving all over the place. Most of the tourists were either sitting around having a drink or waiting for the tram. After walking a few blocks, I kept seeing people with a cone filled with fries so I thought I’d give it a try. I think I got some fries from a place called Vlaamse Frites, not too far from Amsterdam Central. They also threw on a bit of mayonnaise as well. I guess that’s how they eat fries here. I could have chosen ketchup but I can get that back home.
After walking around for a bit, I was starting to get tired. I don’t think I’m fully over jet lag yet so I stopped by for coffee at Dam Good Coffee. I’d have to say that it was dam good. I’m just not sure if it was €3.60 good. But
oh well, when you’re on vacation, you pay vacation prices for things.
As the sun started to go down, I continued walking around and exploring the area near the train station. The view from just about any where is great! Since there’s so many canals everywhere, you can’t really go wrong with the view, especially during sun set.
Before heading back to the hotel, I stopped by Café The Flying Dutchman for a beer. Had a few words with the bartender who gave me a brief history of Heineken. It’s the only beer that she drinks. After taking my first drink of the beer, I can say that there’s a big difference between what I was served and the Heineken that we get in Canada. The Heineken in Amsterdam is a lot smoother and has a bit of a sweeter taste. It’s unfortunate that you can only find this in Holland. The exported beer that everyone else gets outside of Holland is, how do they say, “schijten!”