Sunday, 23 May 2010


So the train was definitely our style – hours and hours of delicious first class.  We shared a little cabin room with a lovely retired Australian couple.  They were visiting their daughter and also rail passing around Europe.  I was very jealous.

The trains were absolutely amazing – living in the UK where you never know if a train will be on time or what platform it will stop at – to getting on a train to find a little leaflet that explained to the minute when it would stop, how many minutes it would be there and what other trains you could get from there and at what time and at what platform was amazing!

We did have a little difficulty with the train tickets.  The tickets had been bought on credit card, which had since expired.  The German ticket company said you definitely needed the card with the ticket, but the card had been destroyed and the new card had a different number.  The humans had tried to update it online but to no avail and no one in customer services had been able to help except to say “Hopefully the ticket man will accept your new card as proof, or you may have to pay full fare”.  Well… there were a few tense moments, let me tell you, when the ticket inspector looked at the ticket and the card and then went outside for a few moments. *sharp intake of breath* luckily, however, he handed the tickets (and the card) back and let us on our way.

Then we arrived in Amsterdam – hurrah!  We have been quite a few times with the human and the human’s mother, but always enjoy it – there are so many things to see and do and it really is a lovely place just to wander around.  And that is mostly what we did.

We found our hostel – which was in the middle of the red light district! Of course, in my old business hippo days, there were rumours of clients being entertained by similar places elsewhere, but I… obviously… know nothing about that.  The hostel was basic but nice – the rooms were all “themed” and painted by artists.  Ours mostly seemed like a cell!  There was a bar downstairs that also did food, an area to sit outside, drink tea and use the wifi and apparently a club underneath but we never ventured down that far.

We arrived quite late but had a gooooood long wander around and had dinner in a lovely Japanese place.  The human spoke very basic Dutch to the restaurant owner who promptly apologised and exchanged the English menu for the Dutch one!  The human sheepishly asked for the English one back.

On the second day, the weather was absolutely beautiful, so we ventured out for breakfast, to somewhere we had had recommended for profitjes, but unfortunately they didn’t sell them.  Then we wandered down and looked at lots of markets and then spent the afternoon in the Vondelpark.  It was lovely and sunny… we did give the human a stern talking to when she got sunburnt.

The third day arrived quickly and we tried the free breakfast the hostel provided.  It was rather plain, unexciting but free.  We then checked out and moved to our second hostel, the Passenger Avanti – a boat! A BOAT!  

Our room was a teeeeny tiny cabin, but there was a big kitchen, dining and lounge area at the top of the boat and there was a beautiful outdoor area for sitting and rocking on.  The human was excited by the large quantity of DVDs to watch (and by the dog that was occasionally around).

We then had lunch in a vegetarian café – the food was very hearty and very delicious.  Quite expensive though.

The humans visited the Amsterdam Dungeon, which was ridiculously expensive and delivered in about a third English and two thirds Dutch – but they didn’t explain what was said in either language, so those that weren’t fluent in both seemed a bit confused!  Now, you might think “Duh, of course it wasn’t just in English!” but the people stood outside enticing you in, definitely implied it was!  Stick to the York Dungeon, I suggest – much cheaper!

The human had been wanting to go skating in the Vondelpark but unfortunately ran out of time – next time, eh?

After a bit more wandering and looking around, we returned to the boat and made a delicious dinner and ate it on deck.

Then Sleepy and I retired to bed, whilst the humans went to the cinema.  They saw The Ghost (or The Ghost Writer).  The human said there were two French people next to her who blatantly didn’t understand much English or Dutch, but one did find the use of a particular swear word quite funny, especially when he had to translate it for his girlfriend.  Eventually he said that he thought Price of Persia was more his type of film and then they both left.

There wasn’t much time on our final day.  The Canadian woman running the boat suggested visiting the library.  So off we went.  And what can I say, but it was absolutely the library of the future.  It was white and airy and windowy and lovely.  There were computers everywhere that you could just jump on to – no logging on or timing or anything, there were cafes and all the newspapers you could wish for and a piano.  A piano! In a library!  The piano did have a sign saying “Advance Players Only.  Please play for no longer that 30 minutes at a time” but that seemed to be the only rules.  The human is not an advanced player, but fortunately the other human with us was.  He realised this was probably his biggest ever audience, since the whole library could hear you! It was lovely being sat right at the top, checking our emails, hearing beautiful piano music being played.

Now, again, we are waiting for the train.  Not first class, but, y’know, a hippo can’t have everything.



Marlowe said...

That sounds like a grand time. Your hotel room doesn't look too bad-- at least it was clean!

Bernard and Sleepy Hippo said...

That photo is of the boat, not the cell! The boat was teeny - but lovely! The cell wasn't too bad at all either :)

Jonathan Mack said...

Red Light District is a lifetime experience!
But, to be sure to have a unforgettable time, you should check out this The Amsterdam Red Light Guide