Wed 23 Oct - Noordwijk aan Zee, Netherlands

Downtime beckons... Going seaside in the Netherlands.

After our short 3 nights in Amsterdam, just scratching the surface, we will be moving down the Dutch coast a bit to Noordwijk. Our lovely friends Brian and Doro, whom the observant reader may recall we tried to catch up with in the UK, also have a townhouse in Noordwijk which we could use for and planned to do for the next 12 nights. Yes, downtime beckons indeed. A proper home for a while, all to ourselves, Di can cook, Hans can chill and drink beer and we can watch football and comedy on TV.

First off though in Amsterdam, we repeated our breakfast process from the previous morning. That is, get a large breadroll each with cheese and ham from this lovely bakery at the corner of Leidsestraat and Prinsengracht.

Di is looking on, fascinated...

Once the breadrolls were made, we took them to Starbucks and bought ourselves a cup of tea there and consumed the whole lot in their premises.

We also decided to check out where the tram stop is for tram number 1 which would take us, the first of three legs, using the first of three different types of public transport, to Station Lelylaan which is on the north south train line.

Opposite the tram stop is the Apple store where these guys were "queuing". For what? Hans had to ask. Well, a new iPhone is being released... On Friday... In 2 days time... Right.

The young blokes had brought an extensive amount of technical gadgets, including laptops and a camera to film themselves... Doing what...? Who would be interested?

We then went back to Hotel Mozart, picked up our bags, wandered back to the tram stop where the tram arrived almost immediately so that some 11 minutes later we were at Station Lelylaan.

Buying train tickets for our second leg of the day to Leiden proved to be a bit more challenging. There were ticket machines in a number of places, but they did not accept our credit card. We did find out the reason for that later, so we get back to that.

When we finally found a ticket machine accepting cash, it did not accept notes, only coins. Our total fare was £14.60, so needless to say, we did not have that much in coins. Next, the ticket office... which stated outside that they did not provide change... and not tickets either. Purely for show then. Or job security.

Well, the ticket office did give us change once we explained to them that our credit card was not accepted. So here is Di feeding the coin beast trying her best to avoid stepping into a pool of coffee that some punter had dropped just in front of the machine.

Here is Hans on the platform waiting for the train to Leiden.

Station Lelylaan and a train similar to the one we got on.

The Dutch have a bit of a reputation of being set in their own way and we got a glimpse of this twice today.

As we got onto the train towards Leiden, an older Dutch lady wanted to sit down where Di had moved while waiting for Hans to bring him and the bags there, although there were several spare seats elsewhere. When four spaces became available after the Schipol stop, she was there like a rocket, spreading out her stuff over several seats. Unfortunately for her, people were also getting onto the train with their bags, after arriving into Schipol Airport, she had to regather her things. Ha!

Then, once we arrived at Leiden and we found the number 20 bus stop that would take us to Noordwijk, as Hans went first with his bag and was paying the fare with Di behind with her bag, an older quite corpulent man was mumbling something about that we were too slow ("langsam") and wanted to push his considerable body mass past us both. Di said "warte", I.e. hold on. Even the driver got into the discussion and said something like "easy now". The bus was almost empty and would not leave until we were all onboard so... why?

This is our extensive collection of public transport tickets, all from the one day today while traveling from Amsterdam to Noordwijk.

There were no problems in finding Binnensweg 31 in Noordwijk where we would be staying. Mind you, it would be surprising if Brian and Doro's road description would be anything less that spot on.

We made ourselves at home and then Di wrote down a shopping list for Vomar supermarket which is literally next to our townhouse. In fact, our kitchen shares the wall with the back of Vomar's delicatessen counter... Or so we think.

Heaven for Hans... The Netherlands has licorice like nowhere else... So much good stuff to choose from.

Di zoomed in on those enormous buckets of... popcorn. Given the up sizes, we felt that we were back in the US.

Oh yes, we were going to elaborate on that credit card issue. We got it explained when we tried to pay for our groceries with our Master Card. No, not good. Visa? No, doesn't accept either. Maestro is the only card accepted at Vomar supermarket, and likely to have been the only one accepted when we were buying tickets too.

So, cash is king or queen in the Netherlands too, not just in Germany. We did get a bit worried for a little while; what if the ATMs do not accept our Master Card so that we can not withdraw cash? No, thankfully, we found an ING ATM and withdrew cash without any issues but we better make sure that we have cash to pay for things while traveling here.

Another thing with the Vomar Supermarket, you weigh your veggies and fruit yourself and put the sticker onto your goods yourself. The checkout person does not weigh anything, just scans the barcode on the sticker. Di had to dash back and weigh 5 bags while Hans was packing up our goods while delaying the check out process.

Back to Binnensweg for lunch and then we took a wander around our immediate neighborhood. We are one small block and a bit away from the beach. It was a windy, windy day as you can see.

Hans took this photo for no other reason that the Chinese restaurant spiel looked so good in Dutch. It was one of many beachfront restaurants.

The lady to the left is Koningin Willhemina and the lady slightly to the right of her is...windswept.

The beach is immediately to the left behind the sand dunes.

Boy, it was windy. Fine fine grains of sand ended up in our eyes. We were totally unprepared for this and we should have brought both wind jacket and sunnies. Oh well, we will be back of course. With proper gear next time.

We found the local pedestrian mall called Hoofdstrat where there was a Dutch Poundland equivalent which got some of our business. We love those shops.

Back at the farm, Di went back to one of her favourite pastimes, cooking. Seafood pie with boiled potatoes and green beans. That dinner was really tasty and super hot in temperatures being baked in the oven and we got really full. Even Di looks pretty satisfied with her achievement here.

A final pic of our 3 storey townhouse on Binnenwieg 31 in Noordwijk although the top floor can't really be seen here. Kitchen is at ground level, living room with TV at the mid level and two bedrooms (one large and one small) at the top floor. It has a really good setup and we can spend some time here, although the stairs where you constantly go up and down may get to us in the end.

The evening finished up with Big Bang Theory on TV followed by an UEFA Champions League football game between Real Madrid and Juventus, final score was 2 - 1 to Real. All good, and very quiet in the neighborhood. Good night.


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