Miffy in China

To celebrate Miffy's (or Nintje as she is known here) 60th birthday, the Guangzhou metro in China will be adding Miffy illustrations to the carriages. Now that is a blog worthy post! Happy birthday Nintje!


Miffy in China

Nintje in China

Miffy in China

Miffy China Railthetrails



Pictures taken from:http://www.lifeofguangzhou.com

Amsterdam Travel Ticket

There is a new card on the market from NS (the Dutch Railways) called the Amsterdam Travel Ticket.  I have recent seen it promoted at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. 




For €15 you can get:
  • 2nd class travel from Schiphol Airport to any station in Amsterdam (see stations below)
  • travel on trams, buses, night buses, metro and GVB ferries
Advantages 
It is great to have a one card for everything instead of having to buy each ticket along the way. So ease of use is the main advantage. It can be busy on public transport around Amsterdam and it is nice to have one card to scan in and out (check in and out) and not worry about having to buy each ticket along the way


Disadvantage
Given that a single ticket from Schiphol to Amsterdam Central for only €4.10 (€8.20 return) unless you plan to spend more than €10 on buses/trams and ferry travel in one day it is cheaper to pay as you go! If you are coming and going to the airport in one day (as well as taking €6.80) worth of public transport it will also work out cheaper to pay as you go. 

Some ferry transport is free so, unless you plan to travel a lot by bus and tram in one day I would opt for point to point unless you don't mind paying extra for having a handy card.


There is also a €20 2 day option and a €25 3 day option available




You can read more about the card here: https://www.ns.nl/producten/en/overige-kaartjes/p/amsterdam-travel-ticket

Belgium rail and Mothers to Be

Just came across this when researching trips from Amsterdam to Brugge. Thought it was pretty awesome and worth blogging!

'Mothers-to-be may travel in 1st class, at no extra cost with their 2nd class ticket, in the last 4 months of pregnancy and with a medical certificate showing the expected delivery date.'

You can read all about this on the SNCB website here 

www.railthetrails.blogspot.com

Travelling from Amsterdam-London - No Filters/Photo Editing!

Amsterdam London
Amsterdam-London

Amsterdam-Rotterdam with IC NS trains. The new station in Rotterdam is looking fine!

Rotterdam Central Station
Rotterdam Centraal Station

Rotterdam centraal station
Platforms at Rotterdam Centraal Station

The regular IC train from Rotterdam to Brussels typically departs from Platform 3 and 4 in Rotterdam. Leave time for a coffee - but remember to check my blogpost on BEST COFFEE AT THE STATION FIRST!!! 

From Rotterdam the train will call at - Dordrecht, Roosendaal (border between Netherlands and Belgium), Antwerp Central, Antwerp-Berchem, Mechelen. Then it makes a series of stops before you reach Midi. Many people alight at the incorrect spot here so be careful


Brussels Midi
Delayed!



Rotterdam Central Station
Check the Travel Information



Love that there is a kiosk on every platform - for all your sugar and coffee emergencies!


Views along the way (somewhere near Doordrecht)

 Once you arrive in Brussels Midi (Zuid) go to the Eurostar terminal

Large information screens in Brussels Midi

  
Eurostar carraige numbers

 









Another option is the Thalys train more about this later!






Amsterdam-London (Eurostar)


Amsterdam to London

The trip from From Amsterdam to London is a shorter journey than you might imagine! I have made the trip many times now and I do love the ease at which you can depart from central Amsterdam and arrive right at St. Pancras station London. It can take from 5-7 hours depending on the trains you choose to travel with.

1. Amsterdam (Central) - Brussels (Midi)
2. Brussels (Midi)- London (St Pancras)

1. Amsterdam-Brussels 
You can choose to travel with a high speed Thalys train direct on this route. This will have you in Brussels Midi in under 2 hours (1.51 hours). This train however can be quite expensive and can get booked out. Unless I can find a deal with the Thalys train I usually take the regular regional train. This is a longer journey (3.20 hours) and sometimes can travel via Rotterdam (and possible Roosendaal and Antwerp too). Remember the station name Brussels Midi means Brussels South in English and it is called Brussels Zuid in Dutch. Don't get confused as your ticket is liable to have any of those names written on it!

2. Brussels- London
Once in Brussels Midi you can travel via the Eurostar directly to London. The journey time is just over 2 hours. The Eurostar terminal operates in much the same way as an airport terminal. You need to scan your ticket to gain access to the terminal, then you will need to go through a security check point and an immigration check point. You can then wait in the lobby until your train is called and you can proceed to the platform

Tickets For Travel from Amsterdam to London

1. Eurostar website: There are various versions of tickets you can get on this website the cheapest are the non refundable standard tickets. It is best to book months in advance in order to get the best deals. You will receive an eticket. Price: €59

2. The NS international website: I find this a very easy to use website with various payment options. You will receive an eticket. Price: €59

3. Loco2.com: They are a relative newbie on the market and I have had nothing but the best customer service form that team. I do admit though I have only booked a few tickets with this website. I prefer to book in Euro and this website is in Sterling. There are many more websites out there like Loco2 offering tickets but I find their website the easiest to navigate. Price: £100.50

4. RailEurope.com: These guys have been in business for a while and offer competitive prices. Price: $214

5. SNCF Voyages: Operated by the French Railways they also can sell tickets for the Amsterdam-London journey Price: €160
 
6. Thalys.com: Thalys is the high-speed red international train founded in 1996 that links four countries! Price: €235

7. SNCB Europe:  This is the European portal of the Belgium railways.
Price: €103

All cheapest prices quoted are for tickets 1 month from search date and choosing the best fare on that date. All prices are for the standard seat. Prices can be cheaper if booked in advance or by taking the IC train rather than the high speed Thalys train.

* Update coming as soon as the direct Amsterdam-London route is announced end of 2017


Summary
Depart from: Amsterdam Central
Arrival Station: St.Pancras London
Travel time:5-7 hours depending on train type
Price: €60-300 one way depending on how far in advance you book and the level of comfort you prefer!
Other connecting Stations: Amsterdam Schiphol, Rotterdam, Roosendaal, Antwerp, Lille, Calis and Ashford


Test the OV Bikes in Utrecht

With public bikes available for rent in over 250 locations across the Netherlands it is becoming a very popular way to get around with over 100, 000 people subscribed to the programme!

This weekend (Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11th) at the jaarbuersplein outside Utrecht Centraal Station you can check out the new bike models and take them for a test drive!  The feedback provided by public will help decide on the new bike model desired by OV bike users!


The test range is open on Fridays from 8 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm in the afternoon.

Here is an artists impression of the obstacle course taken from www.fietsen.123.nl/fietsnieuws
OV fiets

Breaking News for Border Travel

Good news reported in the Telegraf today it is now possible to buy tickets from a ticket machine from Roosendaal ( dutch border station) to Belgium....and the prices are more favourable too! Finally border travel is getting easier!


Bike Rental


What better way to explore the Netherlands then by bike, after all with its flat picturesque landscapes this compact country is perfect for cyclists! It is very easy to rent a bike when in the Netherlands many tourist locations offer bike rentals or bike tours as it is such a big part of being in Holland. For example Mac Bike is one I see a lot around Amsterdam. Hostels such as the Stay Okay usually have biked for guests and typically it is quiet cheap or free.

If you are thinking of renting a bike for a few days then I recommend the OV Fiets (bike) scheme. OV means Openbaar Veroer in Dutch which translates as public transport. This is very handy as the OV bikes are typically in or near the train stations. Either in the bike parking area (fietsenstalling) or at a self service center. Many cities have a bike scheme like this but in Holland with so many cycle paths in the city and dedicated cycle routes through the country side to follow it is an excellent option for a day trip!

OV Fiets- How does it work?
If you want to use these Orange and Blue Bikes you need to sign up! You can do this via the NS website here: http://www.ov-fiets.nl/. Unfortunately this is only in Dutch ( if I can do it s can you!). This will cost €10/year. This is taken automatically from your bank account so be sure to unsubscribe if you no longer wish to use it after you leave Holland! When you sign up you will get an OV card, if you already have a card the ability to rent bikes will be automatically added to your card.

The next step is to find your bike! You can see a video of one of the newest OV points in Utrecht here:


Besides a OV point you can also rent a bike from a self service bike point , a bike locker, a bike carousel, a bike box and a OV bike point rack. You can see pictures of all these here. Rental costs under €4/day and you can rent 2 bikes on one card. You don't need anything other than your OV card it is all automatic! You can keep the bike for 72 hours using the same tariff however after 72 hrs you start to pay a surcharge. The rental fee is charged directly to your bank account.

OV Fiets Fees:
  • Subscribe to the Scheme €10/year
  • Rent per 24 hour €3.15 (as from Jan 1st 2016 €3.35)
  • After 72 hours extra €5/day
  • To drop the bike back at a different location from where you picked it up €10
  • Loss or theft of bike key €20
  • Damage OV-bicycle as a result of careless use - repair costs
  • Theft OV-bike with police report and key € 50
  • Theft of bike without police report and without key € 250

Remember if you take the bike on the train it will cost €6 for a bike ticket – I have a full post about this here

There is so much more I can write on this topic from how to store your bike to the bike routes you can take in different Dutch cities- so stay tuned!

BIKE! The amazing world of cyclists in Utrecht

I am just about to update my blog on renting a bike at the station and I came across this great video. Enjoy :-)



Train Station Facilities

Want to check what stations have what facilities - follow these steps:


1. Go to this link

2. Type in the name of the station you will be visiting.

3. All the station facilities will be listed per your chosen station

Dutch Train station information
Information booth at train stations in Holland