7 June 2012

To Amsterdam by train

The double bank holiday at the start of June was an excellent opportunity to take a city break and to miss the Jubilee, so that is what I did.

Amsterdam became the venue of choice thanks to an advert on the Tube saying that you can get there by Eurostar for just £99.

Of course when you actually come to book the dates, times and class of travel that you want it comes to somewhat more than that but it is still an absolute bargain.

It is also an incredibly easy journey to make.

The District and then Piccadilly Lines  take you straight from Richmond to St Pancras with the simplest of changes at Hammersmith, you just cross from one side of the platform to the other.

Check-in at St Pancras is easy and there is none of that arrive two hours before the flight to allow time for the security checks nonsense. And once checked in, there is wi-fi and power to keep you occupied for the half hour or so before the train is called.

Then it's a short escalator up to the platform - compare that with the huge distances that you have to travel in most airports.

The train glides off and you sit in your wide seat with plenty of legroom and relax.

Two hours later you are in Brussels.

It is best to leave enough time for the transfer (I missed the train to Koln two years ago when the Eurostar was delayed) but not too much because, frankly, there is not that much to do at the station and even less in the immediate area.

I did wander out a short distance and the only memorable point was discovering Avenue de Stalingrad.

The domestic platforms are new, clean and impressive. My regular stations of Richmond, Reading and Newport look nothing like this.

The Thalys train is impressive too.

And comfortable. I had forgotten that I had treated myself to first class (it is nothing like as expensive to upgrade in mainland Europe as it is in the UK) which meant that in addition to the usual comfortable seat I got a cheese sandwich and a couple of beers.

Time to relax again with the iPod and iPad thanks to the free wi-fi and power.

The two hours fly by and then you are in Amsterdam. I got in just before 6pm which still left plenty of time for the easy walk to the hotel before heading out for the first explore of the holiday.

Arriving relaxed is the biggest advantage of going by train rather than plane. Others are the lack of dead time queueing for security, walking out to the plane and waiting for it to take off, which can be spent on the iPad instead; the extra body space; having something to look at out of the window and keeping in touch with the rest of the world.

This is the third year in a row that I have chosen to go on holiday in Europe by train and I am more convinced than ever that train is the way to travel. And it will only get better once operators like Thalys are allowed to use the tunnel as that will give us direct trains to more locations.

2 comments:

  1. Yes that definitely sounds worth doing sometime, even with another rail journey upfront, to London, for us.

    I certainly enjoyed my first Eurostar journey to Brussels a couple of years ago.

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  2. I went Amsterdam by train about 3yrs ago...so easy with Eurostar too. Had a fab few days soaking up little pockets of Dutch-ness..

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