It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Amsterdam by Car? Just Say "NO!"

Firstly, let me just say, for someone who loathes inconsiderate cyclists with a passion that burns like a white hot flame, venturing into Amsterdam by car was not one of my better ideas.

We had a good drive from Koblenz, about 4 hours, and the plan was to drive to our rental apartment, drop off the luggage, and take the car out to one of the many Park & Ride locations out of the city.  Car parking in Amsterdam is currently running at 4 euros an hour, so Park & Ride is meant to be the way forward at 8 euros per day, including free public transport tickets back to the city.

We arrive at the apartment with me teetering on the edge of freaking out after dealing with hundreds of cyclists, narrow tiny streets, and a comprehensive one way street system.  I ring the number on the booking sheet only to have it ring out and go to service.  I try it again, just for laughs.  Same result.  I read the third page of the booking and discover that I have to go to an office to collect the keys first - my fault for being a bit slap dash.

I key the address into the satnav and we're off again, narrowly avoiding squashing cyclists riding two and three abreast down the middle of streets.  I find the office and park illegally, running inside to get the keys and check-in.  Then back to the apartment, in a lovely narrow street, up several thousand narrow stairs which we have to tackle with all the bags.  Dad stays at the apartment whilst Mum & I head out of town to the closest Park & Ride location at Ajax Stadium.

After about 15 minutes of futile driving in circles around Ajax Stadium, which is astonishingly poorly signposted, I see a tiny Park & Ride sign and we head into a huge parking station, drive around for another 5 minutes inside until we see a sign telling us where to get our ticket, then park and head to the office, only to be told that they're not doing Park & Ride for the next three days due to a big three day concert in the stadium.  Seriously?  You're joking me right?  By this time I'm nearly in tears.

We have to pay, and leave the stadium, heading in a 5km loop to the other side of the stadium to another Park & Ride location, that was not only open, but even staffed by someone who was willing to help - yay!

He gives us our tram tickets and points to the tram about 200m away, so we head off on foot, only to find that there was a high fence all around the area and we couldn't get through.  We re-trace our steps only to find he'd sent us in the wrong direction and eventually found the tram stop, the absolute last one on the line.

Then it was 30 minutes on the tram into town, plus another 20 minutes on another tram that was meant to have a stop at the end of our street.  It didn't.  It had been re-routed on another track and when we finally got off, we had no idea where we were.

"I always depend on the kindness of strangers" (okay, which movie was that in?) and asked a gentleman passing by if he could help us, thrusting our map at him.  He pointed out where we were and where we should be and we thanked him and headed off, eventually finding home about 10 minutes later, by which time I was almost catatonic with stress, and actually shaking with nerves.  In the end, it had taken us 3 hours to park the car!

Luckily my father had used his time at the apartment very wisely, venturing out to find a local store that sold alcohol, and after a bit of a sit down and a large glass of vodka and apple juice, I slowly calmed down.

Now that all the drama has ceased, we're having a ball in Amsterdam - it's a fabulous city.  Hubby flew in from Zurich on Friday night, and Jim flew in from London.  Friends of Mum & Dad's; Heike, Volker and their son Stefan, drove over from Hannover, and we're all really enjoying it.

More adventures will be forthcoming, but right now we're headed out on a canal boat tour, well away from those bloody cyclists!

1 comment:

  1. Wow....a 3-hour parking drama!! ICK!! Great for storytelling tho....Funny post Kristy, altho sorry for your stress. Hoping photos are TK (of the canal tour, not you strangling Mr. Park-n-Ride!!


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