This is part 2 of a guest post by Roxanne Bridger. If you are interested in guest posting on the AirTreks Travel blog, please read our submission guidelines.
Holland has always been on my list of places to visit, much before I developed the urge to see the world and experience all its varied cultures. It wasn’t until one of my best friends, Liz, decided to relocate from England to The Hague that I was lucky enough to have an excuse to visit. I only booked my flights about 3 weeks in advance but managed to find a great deal. My ticket was a return (Liverpool – Amsterdam Schiphol) with Easyjet for the end of October 2010. Before this I had never flown alone before but the 75 min journey went by without a hitch. Thankfully, Schiphol is one of the world’s more user-friendly airports. It has just one terminal, a good amount of shops before and after passport control, as well as a casino and an annex of the Rijksmuseum.
My plane landed in Amsterdam at about 9am on a Saturday and I had to make my own way to Den Haag Centraal train station which is where Liz lives. Thankfully the train systems in Holland are very easy to navigate. The Hague has two central stations with trains leaving regularly heading all over the Netherlands. The first being Den Haag Holland Spoor and the main one, Den Haag Centraal (or The Hague Central). The unique difference between Dutch and British train stations is that 99% of the time the platform is the same, and Dutch trains are renowned for being on time – if you are late, they won’t wait! Nine times out of 10 you can expect a prompt and very stress free journey. Dutch trains are government owned, so the price always stays the same. For a return to Amsterdam or Utrecht from The Hague we paid about 18 Euros return. The Hague is only 36 minutes from Schiphol airport.
Tickets are best bought from vending machines which you can find in the baggage arrivals hall, as well as on the concourse above the platforms. You can purchase tickets from the machines if you pay with coins or a debit card and for credit cards there’s a one euro surcharge. Also worth noting is that tickets bought from a counter cost an extra 50c. Something I wouldn’t have expected if Liz wasn’t around to advise me!
As with a lot of European cities, cycling is an incredibly popular way to get around. The Hague has some amazing views and cycling is the perfect way to take it all in. There is a bike rental shop right in the city center, just across from the Queens palace. They have a range of classic Dutch bikes complete with real leather seats and pedal braking. Although if you’re not used to this type of braking system, ask for the easier handle bar brakes. On a bike, you can be anywhere in the city in less than 30 minutes.
The real beauty of The Hague is the fact it is a ‘city by the sea’, only a 25 minute bike ride (or 15 minutes on the tram) and you arrive in Scheveningen (a mouthful for any Brit!), a beach town with a difference; home to the German owned Steingenberger 5 star hotel, The Kurhaus (left), and a popular surfing destination. It can deliver some pretty impressive swell year round.
There is so much to see and do in The Hague that I’m sure I will be heading back soon. Especially now I’ve got my head round cycling on the wrong side of the road. If you are planning a trip to Holland, take a look at Simonseeks.com, a community of travel experts, enthusiasts and celebrities sharing their tips on the best places to eat sleep and visit around the world. Take a look at the community guides and find out what typically Dutch restaurants Amsterdam and The Hague have. They also have an Expert called Fred Mawer who has plenty of information on cheap hotels and hostels to stay in Amsterdam.
I love to travel, not as a tourist, but to soak up the secrets of the wonderful cities this world is full of. I think you only truly know a place when you’ve learned to eat, drink and dance with the locals. I also love to write. I have numerous journals from all my travels so have pretty much landed on my feet getting a job here at Simonseeks as a travel blogger. Simonseeks.com is a community of travel enthusiasts, experts and celebrities sharing their tips on the best places to eat stay and visit around the world. Ranging from the best hotels in Paris to the best nightlife in Madrid.
Image credits: The Author, Michiel Jelijs