In all my international train travels, and despite visiting Amsterdam twice by train, I had never actually travelled on Nederlandse Spoorwegen. Yes, I have never entered one of their bright yellow trains – shameful. It was high time we put that right.
Mark had suggested we take a day out to visit the Spoorwegmuseum, the Dutch national railway museum. It is in Utrecht, just a short train ride from Amsterdam. Naturally, I didn’t need much convincing, so on Thursday morning we marched back into Centraal station and trekked to Utrecht.
We purchased our train tickets from the NS ticket machine at Amsterdam Centraal. Nearly all train tickets in the Netherlands are issued on smartcards, either the reusable OV-Chipkaart or – if you are ignorant tourists like us – on a single use disposable card, which nevertheless contains a chip, and costs an additional €1 for the privilege (the Dutch word for this supplemant is “toeslag” which to English ears sounds like something you’d put in a Grindr profile, but… I digress).
Continue reading “Utrecht: The Ex-Railway Station (#Amsterlin Part 4)”
Hotels in Amsterdam are expensive, and our “three-bed room” in the Ibis was clearly just a normal double room with an extra bed shoved in where normally there would be a little chair and table. It was rather cramped, and much of the time in the room was spent getting in each others’ way. Still, it was the only place in the centre that was remotely affordable, even booking at three months’ notice, so I can’t complain. Oh I just did.
The big compensation was the hotel’s closeness to Centraal station – in fact, it literally straddled the platforms, and access to our room was via a footbridge over the tracks, offering splendid views of arriving and departing trains.
Continue reading “An Amsterdam Amble (#Amsterlin Part 3)”
It was a grumpy, annoyed Robert who ordered breakfast in the Wetherspoons at St Pancras station. Things improved with the arrival of Mark and Peter, whose train from Brighton had also been cancelled (although they only had to wait 15 minutes for the next one).
I felt a little better after I had finished my breakfast of scrambled eggs and black pudding (which is a perfectly cromulent combination, no matter what judgmental types may say). Together, we headed for the Eurostar check-in and Priti Patel’s Security Theatre.
Continue reading “Chunnel Chums (#Amsterlin part 2)”
It was a trip over two years in the making.
Way back in January 2020, I was busy planning another European train adventure in conjunction with my friend Mark. The central plank of this trip was to be Eurostar’s new direct London-Amsterdam service. After a couple of days in the Dutch capital, we would travel onward, again by train, to Berlin, for a further few days.
We were almost at the point of booking it. The only problem was that booking for the Amsterdam to Berlin train had not opened for the dates in the summer of 2020 that we wanted to travel. We waited impatiently, refreshing the Deutsche Bahn website several times a day to see if the trains had gone on sale.
Then, the world went mad. COVID swept across Europe, borders were closed, and train services were deemed off-limits to all but essential passengers. I continued to make plans, fully expecting all this to blow over in a few weeks, in time for the summer holiday period. After all, locking down for months on end would be ridiculous, right?
We did not go away in 2020.
Continue reading “The Avanti Aversion (#Amsterlin part 1)”
It was two and a half years ago that Boris Johnson won a landslide majority in a snap general election. It was a horrible day, knowing that a completely amoral, opportunist lazy chancer could be elevated to the highest office in the land.
Now he is (almost) gone, leaving a country in a much worse state than it was when he became Prime Minister. He has destroyed trust in politics through his dishonesty. He has elevated desperately unqualified people to high office. He has pursued a toxic culture war agenda that has turned people against each other and divided the country.
Good riddance to him, but be afraid, because whoever replaces him is going to be just as bad, if not worse.
As for everyone who enabled him to get to this point – the cabinet colleagues who propped him up, the newspaper editors who gave him columns, the Have I Got News For You producers who booked him, the journalists who failed to call out his lies, the pundits who made excuses for him – we see you, and we do not forgive… or forget.