If you haven’t heard, the day after Christmas I’m headed off to Europe.  This will be my fourth Eurotrip (one, two, and three) and I can’t wait to go explore this amazing part of the world again.  This time I’m starting on a direct flight from Portland to Amsterdam that I scored for cheap and reining in the New Year with Melissa, Tomas, Ayleen and more.  After the New Year, I’m eventually making my way down to visit my friend Laurent in Lausanne, Switzerland before flying home.  My plans are pretty loose, as is the way I usually travel, so I’m excited to see how the trip comes together.  With the help of the travel hacking work I’ve done in the past and my friends in Europe, I’m hoping to keep my trip quite low on cost.  I’m going to be updating this post with my trip details as best as I can, so bookmark this page and stay updated. Belgium(I ended up splitting off and Switzerland into their own posts.)

I wasn’t planning on going anywhere for the end of the year, but when my coworker told me she was going and we jokingly said that I should to, it wasn’t long before the seed was planted and I decided to make the trip a reality.

Originally the plan was to just go to The Netherlands, but as I looked into flights and realized that I wasn’t going to get anything home that didn’t cost an arm and a leg that first weekend, I decided to extend the trip another few days (oh darn).  This gave me some extra time to go visit my friend Laurent who I haven’t seen since he lived in Portland a few years back.  I’m so excited to visit him and catch up.

I’m still getting everything together for the trip, and eventually I’ll start packing (probably not until Christmas – the day before), but I’ve got my passport, my flights there and back, a couple few nights locked down, and an optimistic view of things to come.

Here’s hoping for one amazing adventure in Europe.

Day 0 – 12/26 10:30am PST – Packing

It’s 10:30am an I just finished packing my bag for the trip. I’ve got a travel backpack that fits about 50L and a messenger bag as a carry on.

My big bag consists of the following:

  • 2 Ice Breaker long sleeve shirts
  • 2 Nike pull overs
  • 2 undershirts
  • 1 t-shirt
  • 2 button ups
  • 2 pairs of athletic shorts
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of long thermal underwear
  • 5 pairs of boxers
  • Running shoes
  • Toiletries
  • Zip up hoodie
  • GoPro5 with suction cup mount
  • Portable speaker

In my carry on, I’ve got the following:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 underwear
  • 1 socks
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • Surface Pro 1 with Charger
  • Phone charger
  • 20Amp Battery
  • Eye Mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Headphones
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Wright Brothers biography
  • Water bottle
  • Gloves

On me, I’ve got a pair of jeans, boots (Christmas gift), underwear, socks, long sleeve shirt, long sleeve button up, cold weather waterproof coat, phone, passport, wallet.

In the wallet:

  • Three credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx)
  • 2 debit cards
  • 1 Lounge Club card
  • Driver License
  • Pilot License
  • TriMet pass
  • Cash

More then likely, I’ve brought too much, but at least I’ll have stuff to keep me warm… Cause it’ll probably be quite cold. Especially in the Alps.

My friend Lewis is about to pick me up and take me to the airport. Looking forward to getting this trip going. As long as everything goes well, I’ll have one 10 hour flight at 1:30pm here in Portland getting me in on the 27th at 8:30am into Amsterdam.

3:30pm PST – Flight to Amsterdam

So far things have been quite enjoyable starting things off right with a Morrocan coffee at Stanford’s with Lewis who dropped me off and waited in the line to drop off my bag. What a guy!

The flight out was delayed by twenty minutes, but nothing too bad. We waited for people coming in from Seattle to board. It’s not often that I see flights waiting, but thankfully for those on that Seattle flight, they were willing to wait.

With free in flight entertainment, I’m enjoying some movies that I haven’t had the time to enjoy. I just finished up Pete’s Dragon. Now, as a huge fan of the old one, I was quite skeptical, but I enjoyed this one overall. Some tear jerker moments for sure. Reminds me that I still want my own dragon to fly on some day.

The next movie is gonna be the new Ghostbusters. I’ve heard good things, so I figure I’ll try it out even though I am not optimistic.

Lunch/dinner is coming soon. Hopefully it’ll be tasty and eventually put me to sleep cause when I land, it’ll be 8:30am and I’m hoping for some ZZZZs before starting my day in Amsterdam so I’m good to go.

11:15pm PST – Flight Update

We’re just about to arrive into Amsterdam. Our ten hour flight wasn’t bad at all. Sat next to an enjoyable fellow from the Ukraine who has lived in Portland for sixteen years so far heading back to visit his father. The food was actually pretty enjoyable. Watched three movies: Pete’s Dragon, Ghostbusters, and The Angry Birds. Got a few hours of sleep in and some reading (David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers).

As we circle or way around to land, I’m given a boost of energy with the excitement of this trip.

Day 1 – 27/12 8:30 – Landed In Amsterdam

I have landed in Amsterdam! So excited to be here. Now to grab my bag and go through customs before meeting up with Melissa and Tomas.

15:00 – Pannekoekenbakker

It’s been a great afternoon so far with Melissa and Tomas. They picked me up from the airport this morning and we made our way to see his parents’ place and then to Melissa’s home in Sleeuwijk Village.

After chatting with her family, the three of us went over to ‘De Pannekoekenbakker’ which was a pancake house floating on the river. We each had a tasty pancake (Dutch Pancake) back in Portland.

Woudrichem

After this we explored Woudrichem which was this WWII fort area with pretty brick houses, cannons, a big church and a windmill.

Eventually we made it back to Melissa’s where the three of us relaxed in their hot tub. So glad it’s such a lovely day. It’s about 5°c outside, but the sun is shining so it doesn’t feel too cold.
Now to relax a bit more before getting things together for dinner.

20:55 – Grocery Shopping

My first day is coming to a close. The lack of sleep is catching up with me and it’s time to catch some Zzzz’s soon to be fresh for tomorrow.

The afternoon, Melissa and I went to get groceries for dinner. They’ve got this awesome check out system where you get your own scanner, a cart, and usually your own bag.

You walk around the store grabbing everything you need, scanning the items before placing them in your bag.

Once you’re ready to go, you place the hand held scanner on the receiver, and you pay and go. Randomly you may be checked. They’ll scan 5 random items and verify the items are on your bill. You pay, get your receipt, then to leave you scan your barcode at the gate and go. So easy and definitely a way we should go back home.

This grocery store also had pre packaged meals you cook yourself work all the vegetables fresh and ready to go be cut and cooked up. Kind of like BlueApron but you get the vegetables at the grocery store. Another thing, these were cheap. Like $4.
That being said, groceries in general were quite low compared to places I go around Portland.

A great reason to cook up your own meals here, cause eating out gets pretty spendy.

Home Cooked Meal

Melissa’s mom then cooked us a real tasty cheesy, chicken and pasta dinner with what we brought home. We then ate and told jokes. Good times. So thankful to be here with great entertaining people.

Day 2 – 27/12 18:00 – Run and Breakfast

The day started around 9:00 when I got up to go for a run.  I left Melissa’s parents’ place and took off around for a three mile loop through the surrounding area.  It was a cold, foggy morning, but still quite lovely.  Not too many cars on the roads and  many houses to gaze upon.  All the houses in the area are all very similar and made of brick, however they all had their own uniqueness.

After finishing up my run, I arrived to Melissa getting things going for breakfast.  She tells me that it is a classic Dutch breakfast which consisted of two small baguettes with different spreads.  One I really liked was Fillet Americaine which was a raw meat paste that had a good flavor.  The other I went with was the herb butter.  Very tasty.

Loevestein Castle

Following breakfast, we took off to the local castle which was about fifteen minutes away by car.  The castle is called Loevestein Castle which was started being built in 1361.  It started small and then they kept building it out to make it into a defense fortress.  This fortress along with the one I went to yesterday were used to keep enemies out of the surrounding rivers.

We partook in the self-guided tour which was €12.50 per person.  They gave us plastic key shaped key cards that you used through the tour to play Dutch or English history lessons.  The castle was great to explore and had a number of spots to enjoy.  Outside of the castle was the gallows, the gunpowder tower, the ammo bunker, and the houses where the soldiers lived.  In the summer, this place does the occasional reenactment of the past wars.

After exploring the fortress, we made our way back to Melissa’s parents’ place to climb into the hot tub and warm up our bodies and relax a bit.

28/12 1:00 – Utrecht

The evening we ended up going into Utrecht which is the city that Melissa went to university.  She tells me that since this city is more central than Amsterdam, that it has the biggest transportation terminal than anywhere in Netherlands.  The place was massive, so I am going to trust here on this one.  We met up with Tomas and they showed me around the streets of the town.

They showed me the locations of the canals and pointed out to me where it was they had there wedding celebration party.  If we had more time, I would have like to have checked it out.  After a bit of site seeing, we went to a local restaurant, and enjoyed some drinks and dutch snacks: bitterballen (croquette balls) and some things I don’t remember.

Dinner At Sumo with Ayleen, Tomas, and Melissa

Melissa’s best friend, Ayleen, who I met in Portland towards the end of the summer and showed her and them some areas outside of Portland, was meeting us over near our spot for dinner, so we went in one more place to enjoy another drink while we waited.  Soon, she arrived, we talked, finished our drinks, and then we were off to dinner of at Sumo. This place is one of Melissa’s favorites.  A Japanese restaurant that served a form of all-you-can-eat.  They give you six rounds of ordering where you can each select up to four different items at a time.  The food was quite good with a lot of variety of sushi, noodles, and other Japanese fairs.

We followed up dinner with Tomas and Ayleen heading back up North, while Melissa and I hopped back on the bus back to her place.  Soon after we got changed and hopped into the hot tub before ending the night.

31/12 2:00 – Amsterdam

A lot has happened over the last couple days and I’ve been so busy with experiencing Amsterdam, that I haven’t kept this updated.  So here’s my recap:

Day 3 – Entering Amsterdam

I started the morning of the 29th at Melissa’s and after enjoying breakfast, I got my things together to head to Amsterdam.  The entire way back was covered in fog, so there wasn’t a lot of site seeing, so we just enjoyed our conversations.

Meeting Up with Gene in Amsterdam

Once arriving into Amsterdam, I was dropped off at my friend Gene’s place around noon.  Gene just moved to Amsterdam around the 16th to start the next chapter of his life.  A while back he accepted an offer with a software company out here and he’s going to be starting up with them in just a couple weeks.  In the mean time, he is getting situated and experiencing what Amsterdam has to offer before starting the job.  I’ve known Gene around eight years now, and bump into one another on occasion in Portland, so it was pretty natural to meet up and start hanging out here in Amsterdam.

After dropping my gear off in Gene’s room, we hit the streets to grab lunch.  We ended up a half mile from the hotel at Pancake Bar.  I kept my lunch light as a had a lot of bread during breakfast, so I just got the fruit with a croissant while Gene got the burger.  After filling our faces, we started making our way around the streets of Amsterdam.

Being that Gene had been here almost two weeks now, he was able to show me a number of spots I may not have seen otherwise.  First off was to Albert Cuyp Market.  This was a long street that had shops on each side selling goods (I may need to go back here, because somehow I lost my two pairs of gloves I brought for the trip already!).  One thing they had that I was super excited about was fresh made stroopwafel.  These are waffles like the kind you would get made into a waffle cone, but they’re flat.  They cut them in half so you have to flat halves.  Between them they spread on some caramel and then combine the halves back together.  I got them to also put chocolate on mine.  This thing was just as I expected it to be – delicious!  Definitely get a fresh made one if you get over to The Netherlands.

Eventually we made it to a pub nearby, Zilt, for a couple pints.  We then walked over to the beautiful Central Station to get a loadable metro card.  The card was 7.50, but thankfully Gene is going to be living here, so perhaps we can work something out for him to just keep the card.  I loaded up the card with some euros and we got on the tram back to his hotel.

While there I booked a hostel not to far away for 23.  I was lucky to find one for this price, because other travelers said they paid close to 50 per night.  I was just staying the one, so perhaps that was why it worked out in my favor.  I moved my stuff on over and laid down for a bit.  By this time, it was approaching around 18:00 and I was getting hungry and looking to go socialize.

Couchsurfing Hangout with Karaoke

I got onto Couchsurfing.org to see if there were any meetups happening, but didn’t have any luck.  I did get lucky though when I found out that they had implemented a feature called Hangout on their site.  You download the app, and click the button telling people you’re up for hanging out.  You can write something like grab a beer or looking to get dinner. Other people looking to hangout can then mark that they’re down to meetup.  I did this on a group already forming and it worked out great.  I got Gene to meet me at the hostel and we walked over to Coco’s Outback.  Not a normal Outback like back in the US, but still had a Australian feel to the place.  They even sold Kangaroo steaks!

We had about 10 people show up for the meetup and we quickly all got to know one another.  What was supposed to just be a couple drinks with some CSers turned into a karaoke dance party until 3am.  It was awesome.  At 22:00 on Thursdays, this place turned into a karaoke spot and it was awesome.  They did a good job keeping the crowd engaged and focused on the music while giving out drinks for the singers.  I ended up singing a couple songs and had a blast doing it.  Along with that I met some awesome locals and a number of other people in the bar before ending the night crashing in my hostel dorm bed.

Day 4 – Walking Tour

The following morning, I woke up with the painful realization that I had to check out of my hostel at 10:00.  After not going to sleep until 4:00 – this really sucked.  I decided to forgo having a shower to give myself time to sleep a bit more.  I then quickly got dressed and packed to get my stuff downstairs.  In the mean time, I remembered that there was a walking tour happening at 10:30 and was considering going.  When I got downstairs and got my gear put in storage, I bumped into one of the CS girls from the night before, Cristina.  Laughed about the fact that neither of us knew the other was in the hostel (in fact, we found out later that day that we actually shared the same dorm room).  She was also going out for the walking tour, so we walked over to the tram and made our way to the starting point

The tour was just over two hours and took us from the Dam Monument, through the streets and canals, walked through the red light district (not much going on at 11:00), learned about the coffeeshops, mushroom’s being legal, the reason houses are the sizes they are, and much more.  The tour was great and our guide was awesome.

If you have never been on a Free Walking Tour in some city out there in the world, then you are missing out.  They give you a great taste of a city, showing you things that would be hard to find on your own, and if you enjoy your experience, you give a tip.

Rijks Museum

After we finished up our tour, Cristina and I went over to lunch before heading to the Rijks Museum.

I have been told great things about this museum, so I was looking forward to giving it a go.  When we got there, we saw the IAmsteram letters, so we had to take some photos in front of it before going into the museum.

Instead of waiting in the long line to buy tickets for the museum, we hopped on their website and bought the tickets online (17.50) to go through the pre-paid line.  Worked out pretty well.

We got to the museum around 14:30 and the museum closed at 17:00.  We figured we had plenty of time to look through this place.  We were wrong.  We had just finished half the first floor when we realized we had just over two hours to see the rest of this place.  There is just so much to see inside this place.  We started slow, but picked up the pace as we went to the next floor.  As we were enjoying ourselves, the next thing we hear is a voice over the intercom telling us that the museum is closing in 30 minutes.  WHAT?!  How did time go so fast.  We still had two floors to explore and we hadn’t even got to Rembrandt’s!  We rushed up to the next floor where we hurried around taking in all that we could before finishing up our time by seeing Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.  Though I didn’t get enough time to really look this over, it was still very amazing.  Way bigger than I had expected.

Though there was a lot we didn’t see at the museum, I still felt I got enough out of it.  Will have to just go back to Amsterdam another time.  We left the museum to make it back over to the hostel to grab my stuff before making it to the hotel I am staying at for the New Years.

Park Plaza Vondelpark

Normally, I would have just gone with a hostel, but since hostels in the area were as much, if not more, than some nearby hotels, I decided to use some points I had with Club Carlson Hotels to book a room at the Park Plaza Vondelpark.  I was really looking forward to my stay here, however I soon found out that they overbooked and the room I had reserved was given to another.  I was pretty frustrated by this (I used a LOT of points), but nothing really could be done at the moment, so I decided to just go get some rest and deal with it another time.

Amsterdam Light Festival

I quickly got into my room, and tried to take a long nap.  I ended up just laying down in the dark, but I couldn’t quite my brain, so I never actually slept.  Still nice to just lay down though after all the walking that day.  Eventually I cleaned up and contacted Gene to grab dinner.  We went to a place between our hotels and enjoyed some local dutch pizza.

We finished up dinner and decided to go out and enjoy the light displays along the canal with Cristina.  We all met over at the hostel, and began our long walk into the night.  We saw about seven or eight light displays before some of them we got to were off.  Since it was after 22:00, we found out that some only run until 22:00 and others until 23:00.  Such a drag, cause we had a lot more to go and had walked pretty far that night.

The overall displays were cool and seeing more of Amsterdam I never would have seen otherwise was great.  At least we got a lot of them and have a good spot to take the tram to over the next day or two so that we can finish up thee displays.

We ended our walk around midnight before taking the tram back to our different homes for the night.  This is where I am ending this now.  Rather than jumping into sleep mode, I wanted to share what has happened.

That’s the trouble with waiting to write updates, it stacks and you end up having to do a lot to catch up.  Oh well, it’s a great way for me to reflect on my day.  Hope you’re enjoying vicariously living through my writing and pictures!

2/1/2017 17:00 – Happy New Year!!!

Since last writing, I’ve been through quite a number of highs and lows.  Many more highs than lows, so nothing to worry about.

Day 5 – Vondelpark

I started out the day going on a morning run around Vondelpark.  A popular park that had plenty of other joggers and bikers even though it was just about freezing.

Even though it was cold and gray out, I really enjoyed this run.  For one, the park was pretty big and had a number of trails to run around and art to look at.  The other thing I really liked was the number of birds and small animals I saw around.  It was nice to go here to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  The park also had some awesome structures for the kids (and big kids, like me) and trees that were lower to the ground making it easy to play around on (which I did).

After running around in the park, I made my way to the hotel, and enjoyed the complimentary breakfast they compt me.  See, originally, I had booked two nights 30th-1st in the Park Plaza Vondelpark hotel in quite the nice room.  I did this because everything was super expensive and I had a lot of points.  Thing is, when I got there, they ended up telling me that they oversold the hotel and because I was on my own, they put me into a small room instead.  For the inconvenience, they gave me breakfast.  It didn’t really bother me, until I remembered how many points it was that I used (88,000 Club Carlson points).  Now, I rarely use these points, so I was fine with booking a really nice room – which I did not get.  I sat down with the manager to see about getting the room I requested or perhaps refunding me the difference.  He said he couldn’t do either, so we worked out that I could have another night in the hotel for free.  That made me feel a bit better, cause another night was going to cost me 120 euros and I was thinking of doing it so that I didn’t have to get up super early on New Year’s day.  Everything worked out.

Van Gogh Museum

Now that I had my stay all figured out, I got things together and made my way out of the hotel to the Van Gogh Museum.  I ended up booking my ticket online (17 euros) because the line when I got there was really long.  When you get your ticket online, you pick a time and have a 30 minute window after your time to get inside.

I really enjoyed the Van Gogh Museum.  To avoid what happened with the Rijk Museum, I gave myself ample time to explore this place.  It took me around three hours to get through the main part of the museum and the exhibit they had going on.

They go through the history of Van Gogh and how he did most all of his work in a single decade before he cut off his ear, committed himself to an insane asylum, and eventually committing suicide by shooting himself in the chest.  Quite sad to see such a great influence on art end up losing his mind.  As you make your way through the museum, you start at the bottom learning about him becoming an artist and how he used his own self portraits as a way to test out new ways to paint.  They had more than just his own works of art.  They also had other painters at the time who influenced his style.  Being from The Netherlands, he spent a number of years living in surrounding countries picking up new knowledge along the way.

If you get to Amsterdam, I would recommend spending a few hours in the Van Gogh Museum.  Worth the price, but be sure to book ahead of time inline.

Pre-Pre-Funking Before The New Year

After the Van Gogh Museum, I met up with Gene to grab dinner before the festivities of the night to come.  Kept it pretty simple grabbing some food at the Walk And Wok.  We followed this up grabbing a pint at an Irish Pub (which again, are everywhere in the world).  The beer of choice was called Hobgoblin.  Smooth 4.5% amber-style beer.  We ended up lucking out cause they only charged us 3 euros for the pint, when I was paying 7 euros just the other day at Coco’s Outback.

Eventually, Gene and I split ways and I went back to my hotel to get dressed for the pre-party to come.

Pre-Party (Apartment)

Before planning things out for my week, Melissa, “The Planner”, was figuring out her plans.  She locked down a house pre-party with her friends, and invited me to join.  On top of that, going dancing at a disco not to far away.  I decided to join up for both, which made me planning New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam the logical choice.

I got ready, and took an Uber to the house cause the mass transit shut down around 20:00.  I found the apartment, opened the door, and was greeted Melissa, Tomas, and their friends.

When I got inside, I was handed a Heineken, and every time my empty bottle hit the table, another was there to take its place.  There was also some tasty table snacks. We enjoyed music, joked around, and eventually left the house around 23:30 to make our way to the museum area to countdown to the New Year.

Day 6 – Happy New Year!!!

Fireworks were going off left and right as I walked with a group from the house to the square.  Once we arrived, we continued conversations and kept the drinks flowing.  The clock soon hit midnight and we cheered “Happy New Year”, kissed, popped the champagne, drank and laughed.

Following the array of fireworks and plenty of champagne, we made our way to the disco for some dancing.

Between the two spots, I ended up falling down some stairs.  Like five or six steps, so not terrible, but it did hurt quite a bit (even with the slight bit of intoxication I was under).

We made it into the club and danced for some time while also enjoying some more beverages…this time, Jameson!  Eventually, people started to head out, so I moved on myself.

Stolen Phone

I met up with Gene around 3:00 at a local pizza joint for some food.  Him and I left, went by the desert place (they had waffles, cakes, and other goods), and something terrible for me, and started to make our way into the center of the city.  On the way, some guys bumped into me and did some sort of leg bump…it was here where I believe someone jacked my phone.

We were about to the city, when I checked my pockets, and to my surprise, my phone was gone.  Usually I’m pretty good about noticing these things, but they were good, as I was an easy target being I was a bit intoxicated.  Rather than continuing the journey, Gene and I went back to see if I left it at the pizza place, but no luck.  Realizing there wasn’t a lot I could do about it, and being slightly bummed, we went back to our hotels to call it a night

Thankful To Sleep In

I started moving around 12:00 that morning.  It was now that I was REALLY thankful that I had the extra night, cause I wasn’t about to get out of bed to start packing.  Eventually, I made contact with Gene, and we decided to meet up and grab some grub.  The night before I went to bed I tried to locate my phone online, but no luck.  Tried again this afternoon, and same result.  I noticed that there was some T-Mobile stores in town, so we went over to see if they could help, but they weren’t open (later I found out that they couldn’t have helped anyways because the US T-Mobile is different than the European one).  We sat down to eat and figure out a plan.  Gene, being the solid guy he is, ended up bringing an extra phone with him, so we picked up a sim card at the grocery store (5 euros, 50Mb of data).  We trammed it to his hotel, wiped the phone, stuck the card in, and we were in business.  At least I had something portable to get me through the rest of the trip (thinking about it, I could have just done all WIFI the whole time, but this allows me to send text messages when I am not connected to data – so that’s not bad).  Eventually, I’ll mail the phone back to him when I’m finishing up in Switzerland.

Light Festival Continued

With another phone in hand and a way to capture the town, we went out and finished up walking a number of the remaining light installations around town.  One of my favorites was this one in a metro entrance.  It was about 150-200 feet long, and they had lights up top that would change color.  At one end was a box with a mic inside, and when you would make noise in the mic, it would send your wave of lights through the array.  It was to represent the way a bat would use sonar to navigate.

Gene and I finished up the lights, grabbed some food, and went to the center of the city to check out the Red Light District.

The Red Light District

When I went on my walking tour a few days ago, went through the district by day, and there wasn’t much going on.  Now, however, it was packed with people walking around.  Everything was lit up and people were all over.  Around the canals were windows with the ‘red lights’ signifying that someone here is up for working.  The word is, it’s 50 euros to start and lasts about 20 minutes and it goes up from there in services, time and money.  If you’re interesting in checking it out, do some google searching before going and read about it.  There was more than just the ladies working the windows, they had blue lights too, which means the ladies here are equipped down low with a bit more than those under the red lights, if you know what I mean.  There were also live sex shows, museums, strippers, bars, coffeeshops (weed/coffee spots), and more.  I wasn’t expecting to see as many ladies (not those working) walking around here, but there were plenty compared to the guys.

The night ended “mostly” uneventful and we went to our hotels to sleep and pack for the next day to checkout.  Gene was moving into his place the following day, and I was to get my things together to head to Belgium.

Day 7 – Final Day In Amsterdam

That last morning, I was surprised to see that there were finally blue skies again.  Being that it has been gray most of the time I have been here, I was stoked to go see the city with clear skies.  I went for a run in Vondelpark one more time, packed everything up, and made my way into the city.  Rather than paying the 10 euros it would have been to leave my bags in the train station, I left them at the Park Plaza Victoria hotel.  They were nice enough to keep my bags since I was a member (woohoo!).

I went over to Central Station and spent too much time trying to figure out their trains to get me to Ghent.  Eventually I booked a three hour, three train, one way for 47.50 euros.  After that annoyance was done, I left the station to explore the city with the sun shining.  Eventually the clouds started to roll in, but that was after I got to enjoy walking around the streets.  One thing that comes with blue skies, is everyone else has the same idea, so they’re all walking around, too.

Gene had some issues with getting his money from Western Union, so we met up and did some walking together and one final coffee.  We then left for one last time while I was here in town.  I went to the T-Mobile store to see if they could sell me a sim card that I could use with my US phone number, and they told me that it wasn’t possible cause they’re different companies.  Lame.

I kept on wandering around and eventually bought some souvenirs, filled out some post cards, and sent them on their way before making it to my train out of Amsterdam.

Trains

The train system was pretty confusing, and with my ticket just saying Amsterdam to Ghent, I really had no idea where to go.  Thankfully enough, people were understanding and pointed me to the correct train spot.  I got on board, and was off for my three hour journey to Ghent.  The trains aren’t too bad so far.  My first one had a small table with chairs on two sides facing in.  My second train from Rotterdam to Brussels is the standard sitting, with two seats on each side facing forward.  The seats are pretty comfy, and the tray table is large.  So much better than most planes in coach.

3/1 9:00 – Arriving In Ghent (Gent)

The last train I ended up taking took me to the St Peter’s station in Ghent.  I then found a Starbucks which I used for their free WIFI and found out how to get to my hostel.  It took a bit to figure out the tram system, but once I did, I was off and made the check-in to the hostel before reception closed at 22:00.

Soon, I’ll be getting ready to hit the town to explore the city of Ghent.

Again, pictures aren’t ready yet for this entry, and some are lost for good due to a thief, so you’ll just have to wait 😉

To Be Continued

To make this page more readable, I’ve decided to leave this as my time spent in The Netherlands.  I’ll create a new post for Belgium and Switzerland.

Figure that’ll be more readable than one huge post.  Here are the links for Belgium and Switzerland!

Like it? Share it!
Share on Facebook62Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+1Share on Reddit0Pin on Pinterest0Share on LinkedIn2Email this to someone

Jason

Jason has been writing his adventures for a number of years now. This his stab at travel blogging. He's the main contributor for Jason Gets Around since it's him actually going places. He is a traveler, an adventurer, story teller, kickball player, a pool shark, a software engineer, and now most recently, a licensed pilot.

Related Posts

Adventure

Coming Soon: Birthdays in Costa Rica & Nicaragua

This Friday, I’m headed out of Portland with my friend Cristina to Liberia, Costa Rica and soon after to the west side of Nicaragua to see my friend Brendan’s property.  Brendan has been out there Read more…

Adventure

3 Days In Belgium

This is part two of a two-week trip to Europe. The first part is here (Netherlands) and the last part is here (Switzerland).  This part takes place after leaving Amsterdam and arriving by train to Belgium. Read more…

Reviews

Year In Review: 2016

Last year, I decided to take the time to look back at 2015 and review how things went, so I decided to take the time to go over this year to celebrate what I’ve accomplished Read more…