Amsterdam – part 4
Yesterday we navigated a load of buses to get to Keukenhof. Today my girlfriend spots this poster in our hotel foyer.
A bus from our hotel all the way to Keukenhof!
Still, we booked online before we came here, and this would have had to have been prebooked through a different company. Still, annoying.
Keukenhof sent me an email asking if I enjoyed my time there and if I had any comments, so I think I’m going to mention how their travel arrangements could be improved.
Today I thought I’d document some of the flaws in the road layouts and public transport here. Amsterdam is sometimes held up as some kind of mega green place where the bikes, pedestrians, trams, and the few cars they have, all work together nicely. This is a complete fallacy.
Very little room is given for pedestrians.
Despite a lot of the roads being quite wide, some vehicles share sections. So the taxis can use the same sections of road as the trams. Fair enough, perhaps.
The pavements are half pedestrian walkways, and half cycle lanes. But as well as bicycles, motorbikes can also use this same lane. Much more dangerous than UK pavements, I think, having a motorbike so close to where people are walking.
The narrower the road, the less room is given to pedestrians. You’ll find tiny roads which are one-way for cars, both ways for bicycles, and a less-than-one-person width remaining for people on foot. With motorbikes zooming past right next to you.
Or just look at this one. Bike parking, bicycle lane, road, and.. where do I walk?
The road layouts are complicated too. I still can’t work out at any given time who has right of way, or who gets to turn which way.
Presumably in an effort to improve this, and help pedestrian safety, there are line markings and lights EVERYWHERE. Just check out this junction (from three different angles).
And this pedestrian crossing.
Today was reasonably stressful from the moment we left the hotel. We caught a tram, with the idea to get off one tram, then change and catch another in a different direction.
Here’s a prime example of a flaw in their ticketing system.
Here’s a picture of one of their 24 hour passes.
One side is stamped with a date that the printed card must be used before. But this isn’t when YOUR card expires.
You buy your card, then swipe it. It expires 24 hours after that. But when you swipe it, it isn’t stamped in any way. It’s all done wirelessly like an Oyster card. So you just have to remember when you bought it. It doesn’t stamp the date or time you first used it.
This morning we caught a tram, got off at a stop, and my girlfriend puts the travel card in her pocket. Then we try and catch another, but when she swipes her card, it doesn’t work. Odd.
Trams wait for nobody. Before she would have even had time to ask a member of staff what is wrong, we’re back on the pavement and it’s off down the road.
It turns out, she had two in the same pocket, and was swiping the card that expired yesterday evening. But they all look completely identical. Silly system.
Another drawback to the tram is that all the stops are in the middle of the road. You have to push buttons, make cars, bikes, etc. wait while you cross to the middle of the road, to get on them.
One thing I do like is this information on the tram stops, which tells you exactly how much it will cost to get from where you are, to somewhere else.
As a general concept though, if I had to have one, I prefer the tram to the bus. Having caught several of both over the past few days, even when trams speed up or slow down quickly, you don’t appear to get the same *everyone thrown forward* type force that you get when a bus does it. And they seem quieter generally. A different sort of noise produced, but quieter overall.
We took a little walk through Vondelpark, which gives me a chance to mention an annoyance that my girlfriend spotted. People spit in the street. I know you’d see chavs in the UK doing it. But here you’ll find people of all ages and classes seemingly gobbing in the street.
We went to the Rijksmuseum today.
Here’s a sign that made me laugh on the way in.
We bought our tickets at the hotel before we left this morning, which, according to a leaflet, allows you to skip the line. They were the same price as buying directly in the museum, according to the museum’s website.
So we turn up at the museum, walk past all these losers queuing, and show our tickets to a member of staff. We’re told to join the back of the line, but these tickets allow us to skip the ticket-buying line, inside.
But there’s still a queue before we get as far as being actually inside the building? Bah.
After we get in the building, we take our tickets and go straight to the museum entrance part. After queuing for a few minutes, we hand our tickets to the person on the entrance, and he tells us these aren’t really tickets, and that we need to exchange them for actual tickets, at ticket desk 1. Talk about taking the piss. He assures us there is no need to queue at this new ticket desk.
We go to ticket desk 1, jumping the line, (half expecting someone to complain, as it looked the same as the other desks, and wasn’t labelled “fastlane” or anything), and exchange two printed tickets, for another two printed tickets.
Go back to the entrance, queue up again for a couple of minutes, and…we’re allowed in.
To be fair, it did allow us to skip *a* line. It just didn’t mention there was three of them in the first place.
The museum is a maze. It’s split over 4-5 levels, but it’s got multiple sections off of sections, and it’s split between two muddly buildings, so in some cases you have to go up one set of stairs, through that floor and back down a different set of stairs, to get to another part. Considering it’s a museum, the staircases aren’t full of exhibits, and all look remarkably bare/identical, so it’s very easy to get lost.
We probably didn’t see half of what was there, because with all the tram confusion this morning, and enormous queues to get into the building, we didn’t get into the actual museum until gone 2pm. And despite it being May, and it not getting dark til about 9:30pm, the museum closes at 5pm for some reason, even on weekends. Although (and I think this is rather bad form), the cafe and giftshop remain open until 6pm. So I can’t see the exhibits, but you still want me to buy an Amsterdam postcard, that jam that EVERY museum sells, or one of those oversized novelty pencils from you? Pfft.
According to the guidebook, some of the museum is devoted to Van Gogh. We went to see this, because we hadn’t bought tickets to the separate Van Gogh museum. There’s about 3 pieces. Not that surprising, really. More surprisingly, is there isn’t a sign saying “Like this sort of thing? Why not try the museum round the corner”.
Overall, there’s some interesting things in there, but I’m not quite sure it’s worth the €15 entrance fee.
Chefs opening flower shops
I’ll leave you with the answer to the following question. If crazy scientist/cook Heston, off of the tv, opened a flower stall in Amsterdam, what do you think he’d call it? I like to imagine it’d be something like: