I’m sitting at the railway station
Got a ticket for my destination oooh ooh
……. bits missing
And every stop is neatly planned
For a poet and a one man band.
( Simon & Garfunkel – Homeward Bound)
Good way to start a song, I’m sitting alone on Platform 15 at Amsterdam Centraal Train Station waiting or the Thalys 9996 to Brussels, the Navigator and Mark have gone downstairs to the shops hunting for last minute bargains and doing some fluids management, after walking for about a kilometre along the Platform to the spot where Car 37 should pull up this is needed. We’re early, a small miracle, but we’re ready for the next leg of the trip however small it might be.
This morning was a late rise, after a long day walking yesterday and no appointment for anything this morning, I’m happy about that, my feet and ankles are happy as well.
We wander out into a coolish grey morning, just warm enough for a bit more than a t shirt. The dirty canal water is glistening, it’s quiet in our area on the edge of Jordaan so we wander the streets canals and alley ways and find a cafe for breakfast ( not a coffee shop). A few minor purchases for the blokes and the Navigator buys a “small” ring in a groovy little shop run by a pretty girl, so we buy a few other bits and pieces. She’s thinking of travelling to India on a combined holiday and work thing, so I offer a few bits of advice on what to look out for.
I buy a CD of an artist I’ve never heard of before + a wallet, my major purchases so far other than the bottle of Jameson’s in Dublin which was the most expensive purchase so far, for me anyway.
We wander the streets, it’s growing on me Amsterdam and I think I’d like to come back again but for a much longer stay. It’s sort of like Berlin in that it takes time to warm to, then you get over the red light area and the tourist areas packed with people and find the tree lined canals, the houseboats, the little shops with designer stuff like sheep skin stubby and wine bottle holders and other stuff they say is Dutch designed paraphernalia.
Our hotel – The Hotel Sebastian’s, is a groovy little place, we have a lovely room with a garden view, it’s slightly cramped with 3 of us but thankfully, as far as I’m aware anyway, there is minimal farting, belching or obnoxious behaviour. There is however a little snoring from all 3 of us, and the worst part is the gruesome movie Genelle is watching about people committing suicide on a tv show that Mark and I hate with a passion and she won’t turn to another channel.
We wind our way back to the hotel, get our bags out of storeage after a quick pit stop and slowly wend our way to Amsterdam Centraal Train Station. The closer we get the more people and bikes we encounter. And now I’m where I started this post, sitting at the railway station.
The train leaves on time, we’re in the right spot to get on carriage 37 and we find our seats easily. The Thalys train is very comfortable, very fast and in no time we’re in Rotterdam only to hear the news that there is a problem with the high speed rail and wet being detoured and will be 30 minutes later than planned into Brussels.
The navigator is worried about the connection but still worried about the fact that our ticket doesn’t say it covers the leg from Brussels to Brugge, although we’ve been assured that international trips into Brussels automatically cover this leg, we’ll see what happens.
The country from Amsterdam to Rotterdam is flat, productive looking land, it’s grey and looks like it’s drizzling outside.
As we get closer to Rotterdam the rain gets heavier outside, and the conductor arrives to check our tickets and deal with the navigator and her concerns regarding the Brussels – Brugge leg. He is a jovial chap, and handles the navigator well, she seems satisfied that we do indeedy have a ticket which says “ABS” which means that we can go to “Any Belgium Station” , which means he’s safe, Sonya is safe and Mark and I will be saved lots of “I told ya there’d be a problem….” listening. Thank goodness for this! Now she starts planning tomorrow’s shopping and getting ready for her and Mark to do their Segway tour while I’m off at the Flanders ( Belgium) battlefields of WW I checking out where 5 of the COOMBES family ( relatives on the REID side and also relatives by marriage on the Lyon side of my family) served and 2 died ( 1 in the Battle of Passchendael and one in the Battle of Messines with another being killed in the Somme (France) in the Battle of Poziers. The 2 that returned home – 1 was invalided back because of sickness and the other was wounded a few times and came back to end up an alcoholic, never marrying and was called “Old Soldier”. I have a poppy to put at Menin Gate memorial if I can find the memorial for Alfred COOMBES, this was given by my cousin in law Caroline Coombes who was involved in making poppies uses at the 100 year celebration at Villers Bretoneaux this year.
We’re in Antwerp and the train is now 40 minutes late. Nothing we can do, we just have to go with the flow unlike our neighbours in the train who are going to miss a link with the Eurostar to London.
Ciao for now from the train, next post might be later tonight once we’ve done a reccon mission in Brugge