Would the real Amsterdam… please stand up, please stand up?

1.29 am and our train pulled in to Stuttgart, Germany to collect us for our onward journey to Amsterdam.  We’d booked ‘sleeperettes’ which for me conjured visions of lying in a cosy bed, perhaps a blankie and pillow, and a dark blue curtain to shield us from the light for our 8 hour journey.  This warm feeling was mixed with a little smugness that we’d combined travel with accommodation.

But, as any will know who have traveled in this way, I was a bit off the mark.  In fact, a sleeperette is just a train seat that leans back to about 45 degrees, and has a funny hood thing that covers you from… well, nothing.  Nonetheless, I manned up, rolled my down vest into a pillow, put my head on the window and awoke 6 hours later to the sounds of Aimee cursing me for stealing her once infallible ability to sleep.

A beautiful place for a hobo style snooze

Knowing we were supposed to get off at Amsterdam Central, we listened carefully, heard ‘Central’ and in a mad rush gathered our not inconsiderable luggage and spilled on to the platform.  As soon as we alighted there was something in the air that told us were in Amsterdam….

The station was enormous, and after we stowed our bags (literally having to kung-fu kick mine to fit it into the lockers) we went in search of internet to make contact with our friend from Summer Camp, Ron, who we were staying with.  Thanks McDonald’s- your bogus food is offset by your free wifi, and bless your 25c toilets in which I did a 10 minute make-over and emerged looking fabbo despite spending all night on the train.



After  making contact with Ron and arranging for him to pick us up at the end of the day, we set off to see the sights of Amsterdam- right after Aimee slept, hobo style, on a park bench by the river.

We had a lovely day doing all the usual things: canal cruise (the commentary being mostly in Dutch, it  was like listening to Dutch), beer at a cafe, people watching and futile searches for the famous red light district and an organised walking tour.  Soon enough, we were back to Maccas to call Ron, to work out a place to meet.

"What did he say?"

Now, this is the part of the story Aimee begged me not to tell. But, as some other Amsterdam events are somewhat hazy, I’m spilling the beans. We just could not find Ron.  We dragged our luggage all over the huge station (did I mention at all we have heaps of luggage?) front, back, bus stops, pick up circle. No Ron.

We looked for common landmarks, and even enlisted the help of a kind Dutch speaking local.  I handed my phone over to this guy and said “Please, please, please ask my friend where he is.”  He sent us off to the right direction and with a sigh of relief we headed to where Ron was waiting for us.

Except….. there was no Ron.    Was this train station the Brigadoon of the Netherlands?! In desperation, after the 4th or 5th call at international roaming rates, Ron asked me to describe the sights of the day, including the church I’d mentioned seeing.   I said- “You know, it’s the big Dome Church.”

And then Ron said:

“F*#k man- you are in Utrecht- don’t you know I live in Amsterdam??!!”

Now, as anyone who knows their Netherlands geography (clearly not us) will realize, Utrecht is about 40km from Amsterdam and a whole other city…. Yep, UTRECHT Central Station is where we got off.   But having finally established we were in the wrong city, the last words I heard from Ron, were “My phone is about to……” Silence.

Devine volunteers to put her finger in the dyke

But no matter.  We knew this station well enough to find the ticket lounge, and bolted for the first train leaving for Amsterdam, falling on top of our luggage in our haste to get on. (Lucky, really, Aimee hadn’t stumbled or tripped for a few hours, so it was probably a safe landing).

30 minutes later, we arrived to find the youth of Amsterdam are just as friendly as those of Stuttgart.  Literally as soon as we stepped inside the station, a very stoned but cheerful teen jumped right in front of us, arms spread wide and said gleefully “Welcome to Amsterdam!!”  I shit you not.

So we waited for Ron, (who’d driven home to recharge his phone and come back, hoping we weren’t so stupid we went to Denmark), outside the main entrance of the Amsterdam train station.  In the interests of potential future political careers, we tried to avoid inhaling the local air.

At last we were united with our buddy Ron, who gave us a quick drive through the city proper, while Aimee and I exchanged a look that said “We must have been dreamin’ to think Utrecht was Amsterdam” before heading back to his flat.  There was no lift, but Ron being somewhat buff carried all our gear upstairs before we made some plans for the next few days.

So if you’d been hoping for a tale about our adventures in AMSTERDAM… stay tuned.  The best is yet to come.

Bye voor nu  (that’s Dutch for ‘bye for now’.  Or Scottish. Can’t tell sometimes)



PS Utrecht has excellent Black Forest cake, but average Stew.

About The Tina Sparkles Experience

Apparently, there are people who go traveling and just see things and nothing weird happens. I'm not one of those people....come on holiday with me and find out why!

2 Responses to “Would the real Amsterdam… please stand up, please stand up?”

  1. Aaaaah Sparkles, another tale of craziness there – and i can relate because getting off at completely the wrong station is something i would totally do as well. As far as I’m concerned, if the announcement says ‘Central’ at any point, *that’s* where to get off – end of. LOL.

    Though Liza, on a more serious note, I keep finding double-spaces in your blogs (it’s my talent, you see) – so please keep an eye on that in the future. Haha 🙂

  2. Oh, and, ah, nice reference to the Black Forest cake and ‘Stew’…ahem.

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