So we complete the red eye and arrive in Brussels Saturday morning.Getting in to the country is a breeze and after scoring some lunch items to enjoy on the train, we try to get aboard.The station is in the basement, and sure enough, buying a ticket to Amsterdam is no big deal (and less than a hotel would have cost in Philly last night!).The attendant selling us our tickets informs we need to transfer once to get on the line heading for Amsterdam, and we head for the platforms.
After identifying our train who do we see through the window but the Belgium woman Kim sat beside for a few minutes at the beginning of our flight. We climb on and settle in beside her.A few minutes later we are like old friends, amazed that Gertie is returning home after a business trip to Dayton, Ohio (where I travel for business each month).Gertie alerts us when we arrive at our stop and we quickly promise to look for each other in the Dayton airport when heading home on a Friday evening.Of course Kim and I are still novices at the train game, but Gertie scrambles off and points to a train exclaiming “that’s the one you want”.
Now settled in for a longer haul, we eat lunch and try to make sense of the train schedules. Our confidence that we are indeed on the right train lags as we pull into Antwerp, so I ask a disembarking woman whether we’ll end up in Amsterdam and she tells us we better get off with her because this is not the one we want.This time we are in a cavernous train station, utterly lost, but the woman from the train appears out of nowhere and urges us to follow her.She shepherds us to several platforms (the first time was wrong because she thought we had tickets for the express Thalys run).The outpouring of friendly assistance is the warmest welcome one could hope for, and now we relax for the first time since starting, seeing that Schiphol is one of our scheduled stops.
A useful lesson from the train trip was that the entire EU is somewhat like a single country.I was surprised that the train rolled across the Belgium-Netherlands border without a stop to check passports, but isn’t that convenient?
Arriving at Schiphol, we had to undergo one last learning curve for the day and score a ticket to the Amsterdam Zuid station (just one stop away).Of course this was rather basic and shortly we had only to make the promised “ten minute walk” to CitizenM from the final station.This however, turned out to be the most frustrating part of the trip.Our confirmation instructed us to simply walk past the WTC and “follow the signs”…but there weren’t any for CitizenM!The only thing we had to go on without the promised signage was the address on Prinses Irenestraat, and two people we asked had no clue where that was.We made wider circles around the station and eventually reached the promised land.
Our exasperation evaporated immediately upon entering CitizenM - what a cool place - and I need to send a thank-you to Erin (poohstanggt), whose featured review of their first location at Schiphol convinced my wife that we should book it ---> probably because I usually stay in tents and cheap hotels my wife is wise not to trust my lodging choices, lol. The AmsterdamCity hotel just opened mid April of this year and I’ll save the details for a review.
After moving in and feeling good about our plan to park at Amsterdam the entire week so we weren’t schlepping luggage around, it was time to call Rudolph and see if he wanted to join us for dinner.Rudolph foreshadowed that Netherland train’s run right on schedule when he told us he would be at the CitizenM “about 6:08PM”, lol.Really was great to meet Rudolph and the three of us immediately started gabbing over a drink from the bar at the hotel.Draft Heineken’s for the boys and thanks to yet another TravBuddy review extolling the virtues of genever, Kim ordered a Genever Cosmopolitan.Rudolph would answer roughly 100,000 questions about his country and culture, but piped up immediately that the best way to savor genever was straight up with a beer chaser --- Kim promised to do things the proper way next time.
The chat continued long after our drinks had been emptied, so after an hour or so we headed out to find dinner.Following the suggestion of one of the CitizenM crew, we turned left on Beethovenstraat and found Fidelio’s, a restaurant several blocks away.The food was unremarkable, but the chat continued non-stop until around 10:30 when Kim and I were physically ready to drop though neither really wanted the discussion to end.We parted back at CitizenM since Rudolph still had to catch his train home to Den Haag.Kim and I had another beer in the lobby before climbing into our incredibly comfortable bed…an hour and half BEFORE our re-scheduled flight to Amsterdam would have lifted off from Philly!