Saturday, June 28, 2014

Eurocruise 25/05 Amsterdam, Brussels and London

We said goodbye to our travelling companions who were going on to Luxembourg, Paris and London, to be reunited with them in Newcastle, England over a week later. We could have left the boat at any time during the day, but we had a train to catch at about 11am. We left our cases on the boat and went out for a walk. We did not stroll too far and found a place to have coffee. I thought the streets of Amsterdam may have been cleaned up on the Saturday night, but no, still as dirty as the day before.

There is a bike or two in Amsterdam. From two different sources I heard that if you buy a new bike, it will inevitably be stolen. One wonders how you would know if your bike had been stolen or you have just lost it. Nevertheless, most people ride quite basic bikes. Our travelling companion BR had a friend in Amsterdam, one who had met and spent some time with in Australia, on a ship across the Pacific and in Canada. His friend arrived on a bike to collect him to show him the sights, and probably take him to a sleazy hotel room, truth being known. You probably have a mental picture of this Dutchman, but you would be wrong. He is younger than BR, has long dark curly hair. Not quite sure how a 40 plus not so svelte Indian heritage person pulls such a hot guy.


I tried and tried, and eventually got a half decent photo of Amsterdam Central Station.


Inside the station, as we were waiting for our train to Brussels.


I don't know about this train, but our Thalys train was single story and very nice looking.


First class travel was not quite what I imagined. Dust!!!


A light tube out.

A bright white tube with the more mellow light tubes. Very minor things, but these are the things I notice. otherwise, the train was very smooth and quite luxurious.


I think this is Schipol Airport station.


We are now in Brussels, with Gattina nowhere to be be seen. I don't judge countries by what is immediately obvious to tourists, but Brussels looked so dirty too. We were at Brussels for only an hour or so, so we had some lunch and then to Eurostar.




Look Daniel, on top of the building in the distance.


The Thalys had a respectable speed of around 250 km/h (I think it can go faster). But Eurostar did much better. No photo, but we did get to over 300 km/h.


There had been a bombing at the Jewish Museum in Brussels a day or so before we were arrived. The soldier running along the platform was a little alarming.


In the flash of an eye, we emerged from under the English Channel and we were in England, at the international train port of Ebbsfleet.


London's international train station, St Pancras. How good was it to be in London.




We'll just catch The Tube to our hotel from the beautifully renovated Kings Cross Station, the adjacent station being international station St Pancras where we had just arrived.



In 2008 when we arrived at Heathrow, I had it all perfectly worked out. We catch the Heathrow Express to Paddington and walk to our hotel from the station. And that is what we did and it all worked well. Not so this time. I had worked out we could catch the Hammersmith and City line to Paddington or the the Circle line. I expect I should have just caught the Circle Line. I am not sure what we caught now, but we ended up in a not familiar place, although it was Paddington Station, and then R, who just got off a train with toilets, needed to find a toilet. Lugging cases along and following directions from staff, we eventually found one, but god knows where we were. There was a taxi rank there and lordy do I wish we had caught one from there.

GPS on, phone maps on. My god, where are we? All we want to do is walk out the main entrance of Paddington Station into Praed Street and walk to our hotel. It is not far. My phone was showing it we seemed to have a long way to walk. How did we end up here? We walked and discovered the delights of Little Venice, that is Paddington Basin. We walked some more, with me pausing to check the map on the phone. We also checked with a nice young lass who confirmed we were right and to walk on, but then retraced her steps to give us more information. I could see R was at the end of his tether, so I hailed a cab and we were smartly delivered to our hotel. R was mega stressed at this point, and I never see why he gets into such as a state as we did not have to be anywhere at a particular time, maybe it was the day of travelling from Amsterdam to London using umpteen trains, but he paid the taxi drive in euro instead of pounds. The taxi driver called out, but R did not hear him. I sorted it out. So can someone tell me exactly where we were and where we went wrong?

Ok, I have worked it out. We exited the north east corner of Paddington Station. Men! Won't ask directions. What are we like. R blames me for our confusion. I blame him because we would not have been in this part of the station had he not had to use the toilet.


Yes, we are most assuredly in London. We walked from our hotel to Praed Street and had pizza. It was very nice, except it had to be eaten with a knife and fork as it was too saggy to just pick up.


This is where we should have come out of Paddington Station. Without the boat wi-fi, my phone is now on my home data plan and that won't do at all. I went into a shop and bought a data card for £30, unlimited downloads, plenty of call and text allowance and for one month. It gave me net access on my phone for the rest of our stay in England, gave me net access for my notebook and net access for R's tablet.


I think this is Lancaster Gate, in Lancaster Gate where we stayed at Lancaster Gate Hotel.



18 comments:

  1. I get overwhelmed (and antsy and irritable) when I am tired. Perhaps that is what got to R.
    Still enjoying travelling with you. Thanks.

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    1. EC, while catching trains is nothing like catching planes, there is still some stress involved. Overwhelmed is a good word.

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  2. A very amusing account of your arrival, Andrew. I am sure you are exaggerating R's stress levels!

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    1. You had to be there Marie.

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  3. Andrew, definitely you are right it was not first class train. It was great idea to buy British phone card - comfortable and probably the cheapest option.London is my favourite city.

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    1. The card was a good idea but the coverage was not that good at times.

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  4. You really can't fault R for needing a toilet. London looks quite nice, I like the look of Lancaster Gate. Shame about Amsterdam and Brussels being grubby.
    I'd like to ride on that double decker train.

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    1. River, and then London was spotlessly clean as we left the station. We went on a double decker in Japan, but I think it was first class up top, and we weren't.

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  5. For a moment there I thought you were talking about me - travelling can make me snotty and bad tempered especially if things don't go right lol
    There are double decker trains on suburban lines in Sydney - not very posh tho. Much prefer ours in Melbourne.
    They must have done a big of cleaning up in London then - certainly wasn't the cleanest last time we were there.
    Hoping this actually goes through - third time lucky ??
    Cathy

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    1. Cathy, does the Golfer sort things out for you and calm the situation?

      Even Melbourne had a double decker train, that went in you direction, as far as Ringwood I think. But high speed trains, 1st class on top deck is a different kettle of fish perhaps.

      It is horrid when you write a brilliant comment and it doesn't work, but thanks for your persistence.

      What year were you last there? It was scrupulously clean in the areas we in.

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  6. Poor R. When ya gotta go ya gotta go, and if you don't there ain't no point. I shan't criticise the navigator, though, as I couldn't find my way out of a brown paper bag.

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    1. Please FC, he could have gone on the Eurostar half an hour earlier as it was pulling into St Pancras. But I don't need to until I stand up, the wail went out. I say do preventative, even if you don't 'need' to go. I am pretty good on navigation, but I did really fuck it up that time. I'll confess to being a wee bit stressed too. When R gets stressed, I don't function so well as I can't concentrate properly.

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  7. Oh yeh it's contagious when your partner gets a bit 'edgy', not easy to concentrate.. but I wouldn't honestly be able to use this as an excuse as everyone knows I'm directionally challenged :) I didn't realise London was in your travel plans Andrew, how long did you spend there?

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    1. Grace, we were only there for three nights, giving us two full days. The weather wasn't great and we felt that was long enough, for this trip.

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  8. Enjoying your trip, Andrew. Mark either 'has to go' or 'needs a coffee' - I can't win. I always take cabs in London if I am lugging a suitcase or have recently been in transit.

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    1. Scott, I think it was you who said we should just get a cab, and you were right, but we would have been fine if what I intended worked out ok.

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  9. Stations are never a good reference about a city, but I can assure you that Brussels itself is a very beautiful town and very much appreciated by tourists (even more then Paris which is very dirty in the city ! )

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    1. Good to hear Gattina. I am sure it is very nice. I loved Tintin peeking over the building.

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