My scheduled arrival at Amsterdam Centraal was 13:42, which is also the terminus for the Thalys service that I was on. However, since my hotel (yes, you heard that right, hotel) was nearer to the airport and the train does make a stop at Schiphol, I got off there.
Schiphol was a sea of people moving in all direction. I knew that my hotel, the NH Schiphol, had a free shuttle service running from the hotel to the airport and back, but it took me quite some time to make my way up to the shuttle service stands. And with all of the paid shuttle services trying to ‘fish’ travelers, one have to be vigilant.
I’m not sure if it was bad timing or something else, but I waited nearly an hour or so at the shuttle stands with the wind and chill constantly blasting at me. The one reason why I didn’t retreat within the terminal was for the fear of missing the shuttle once it comes by.
By the time the shuttle finally arrived, I was half frozen. Thankfully, check-in went off without a hitch, but the following walk to my room has to be one of the longest in the history of mankind. I had to negotiate a set of maze-like corridors, go up in a lift and through another set of corridors before I finally reached my room. It was one that was at the end of a corridor, and I know that there are some superstitions regarding this particular sort of rooms, but I couldn’t really care less at that point.
And for the record: the ground floor hallway leading from the sports facilities to the service elevator in the far wing stank of chlorine.
Regretfully, I didn’t take any pictures of the room. But what I can tell you is that it’s modern, spacious and tastefully furnished. It definitely has a place in my list of favourite hotel rooms.
After dropping off my pack and freshening up a little, I proceeded to take the hotel shuttle back to Schiphol Airport, since that was the most convenient transit point. And hey, the shuttle bus is free (or to think that I’d already paid for it in my room charges). My original plan called for me to actually take the Thalys service all the way to Centraal, drop my pack in a locker, then make my way to the windmills at Zaanse Schans before going back in the evening, picking up my pack and checking into the hotel by nightfall. Since I got off at Schiphol earlier, that plan is toast, and this new plan actually seems to work out better. One important rule of self-guided travel, especially for backpackers: Plans are always flexible. Change according to the circumstances.
Once back in Schiphol, I was hopelessly confused by the Dutch transport ticketing system. I went up to a ticket machine, and after wrangling a little with it, managed to get to the payment stage for the ticket I wanted. Only by then did I notice that the machines only accept credit cards or coins. My card was bounced and I didn’t have enough coins on my, so I killed the ticket machine idea pretty quickly. However, after asking at the airport information counter, I was directed to a bank of NS ticket counters with quite a queue. An ad for the “Amsterdam Travel Ticket” advertising unlimited travel on all GVB services quickly caught my eye, and since I’m still planning to do plenty of rides that day, I opted for the 2-day option at 21 Euros. It isn’t that expensive, considering a single cab ride in Brussels took that much out of my pocket.
A/N: The ticket will be showcased in a separate post dedicated to transport.
And into downtown Amsterdam we go!