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8 Days, 3 Countries - England, Netherlands and German y

8 Days, 3 Countries - England, Netherlands and German y

Old Dec 6th, 2019, 09:20 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
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8 Days, 3 Countries - England, Netherlands and German y

I got back last week from a quick trip to England, Netherlands and Germany. The trip was an impulsive thing that came about after I saw the Downton Abbey movie and felt the call to return to Europe. I've been to England many times, so I decided I needed to bounce around to some new ground. Here's a little (well not quite so little) report. I tried to put in some details that might be helpful for someone planning their own trip.

Day 1 - Overnight flight to LHR. Plane was wide open so I had a row to myself. Nice!

I got food poisoning from the dinner, but otherwise it was a good flight. Immigration was fast. I never interacted with a human being, just scanned my passport, had my picture taken and then I passed through the turnstile. My bag was waiting for me. Best arrival ever!

Day 2 - It was a lot colder upon arrival than I had been expecting, but I was prepared with my warm wool coat.

I bought an Oyster card to get me around London. I had used the London transport website in advance to estimate how much money I'd need to load on the card. A deposit of £5 is required and refundable. My chip and pin visa worked just fine in the machine. Iíve never understood why I can use my PIN at places such as the London underground and train stations, but in regular retail environments, Iím not asked for a PIN and must sign instead.

My hotel for two nights was the Alhambra, right by St. Pancras station. This is an easy location on the Piccadilly line and perfect for anyone taking a train at that station. My walk to hotel was less than five minutes, straight shot.

I dropped my bags at the hotel and went to find breakfast. I went to Regina's a short walk away on Euston. It was adequate. I also visited the Harry Potter store in Kings Cross before going back to hotel to get into my room. My room was a small single, en suite for $142/night. It was acceptable for two nights and included continental breakfast.

Since I've done all the big sights, I just spent the day wandering. I visited the small Christmas market in Trafalgar Square and attended a lunch time recital at the elegant, yet simple St. Martin in the Fields church.

I strolled the strand and visited a bunch of churches. The kind church watchers in the Romanian Orthodox Church, St. Dunstan in the West, gave me an excellent map. It's available online too for anyone who is also a fan of sacred places.

I capped my day with evensong service at St. Paul's cathedral. Since I had not slept on the plane, I was pretty tired and just had fast food for dinner by Kings Cross.

Day 3 - Winchester day trip! I headed to Waterloo to catch my 10 am train to Winchester. I had purchased my tickets in advance to get a decent price, £19.80 return trip. With a confirmation code, I picked up the actual tickets from a ticket machine in the station. You also need the credit card that was used for the purchase.

It's an easy one hour ride. Winchester is a great little town and is a perfect escape from the hustle and crowds of London.

The cathedral is beautiful and I enjoyed photographing the windows and arches.

I took a long walk to visit the Hospital of St. Cross. This compound is beautiful and has a lovely church.

I had to hurry back to town to catch a 2 pm tour of Winchester College. This is a school for boys ages 13 to 18 and dates to the 14th century. It was really interesting but the tour was a lot longer than I had been expecting so I didn't have time to do anything else before heading back to the train station to catch my 4:15 train. One of the hazards of buying cheap train tickets is that you are stuck traveling on specific trains. I guessed wrong in estimating how much time I'd need in this town. I wish I had allotted an additional two hours so I could have seen a few more sights and visited the shops.

I had dinner at the St. George Tavern near Victoria Station. I know this tavern from staying in the area a few times. Dining is downstairs with subdued lighting and a relaxed, quiet atmosphere. Food is solid.

There had been an incident of a "person under a train" which resulted in the closing of the Victoria line when I had been enroute. By the time I was done with dinner, most service had been restored and I was able to get where I wanted to go, which was the department store Marks and Spencer, home of my favorite chocolate goodies in the world. I ended up with a couple of new blouses too, ha.

I had an early train the next day, so I called it a night.

A note about the London underground: Iíve been visiting London every few years since 2003. The underground has always been a place where itís every man and woman for themselves, but I have to say the level of aggression and pushiness experienced on this trip was unlike anything Iíve previously experienced. Itís important to stay away from the yellow line until the train has actually stopped. A tube attendant told me that the ďperson under a trainĒ was pushed. Whether it was malicious or from the general aggressive jostling, it reinforces the need to be careful on the platforms.

Day 4- Eurostar to Amsterdam!

My train was at 7:15 am and Eurostar says to be at terminal 45-60 minutes before departure. I was glad to be within a short walk to the station so I wouldn't have to travel on the tube with my luggage.

I had purchased my tickets in advance. Step one is scanning your ticket and going through the turnstile. Security is similar to the airport with bags going through the X-ray machine while people go through metal detectors. I set the detector off so I got wanded and patted down. Darn underwire!🙀

Security screening was definitely slow.

You also go through immigration, both UK and France.

This was my first time on Eurostar. The trains are clean and comfortable.

The train was late, but otherwise there was nothing special to report. Screens in the cars give trivia about the tunnel and train speed. Luggage racks are at the end of each car and provide adequate space for big suitcases. Thereís overhead space where I put my backpack.

I arrived in Amsterdam around 12:30 pm and headed to my hotel, the Best Western off Dam Square. $165/night. It's in the process of being renovated. I had an old room but it was clean and comfortable. The only funny thing is the bathroom was so small, a person could technically sit on the toilet and brush one's teeth in the sink at the same time.

Breakfast was included which was handy.

Thereís a lot of construction outside the central train station, so itís quite congested trying to get out of that area.

I had fewer than 24 hours in the city, so I had to get moving after dropping my bags. I first headed to the Basilica of St. Nicholas, which is very beautiful. I spent a good amount of time admiring the church art.

My plan had been to go inside the Oude Church, but they had raised the price to Ä15 euro and I did not feel like paying that since I knew that the church had been stripped of ornamentation long ago. I was fine with admiring it from the outside. Lunch was a pastry and coke from the Spar nearby.

I ventured further into the red light district. While I knew I would be seeing sex workers in windows, I was shocked when I first came upon a row of them. I made eye contact with some of them and they fit different molds. I moved quickly because it just seemed terribly awkward to see these women in a degrading state. I honestly felt teary for a while thinking of what these women do for money.

Time to go back to church after that! I tracked down the De Krijtberg church, far from the tourist crowds. It is a gorgeous sanctuary! I recommend seeking both St. Nicholas Church and this one. Near this church is a flower market, mostly tulip bulbs, at least at this time of year.

I wandered the streets of Amsterdam, just appreciating the charming houses and canals until it was time for my 5:30 pm appointment at the Anne Frank house. It's best to buy tickets in advance to avoid disappointment and that's what I had done. Price was 10Ä ($11.74).

An audio tour is included. The tour is a one way circuit through the property. It gets really congested and was hard to really feel the place as I would have liked. Regardless, I was glad to have finally made it here. It was a bucket list thing for me. Anna (as called by her father in videos) was remarkable.

To be continuedÖ

aggiegirl is offline  
Old Dec 6th, 2019, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Anne is pronounced as Anna (sort of) in Dutch and German.
hetismij2 is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2019, 04:56 AM
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Thatís good to know. When I heard Anna, I wondered why the spelling Anna wasnít used. Now I know!
aggiegirl is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2019, 01:01 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
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"Winchester is a great little town"
It's actually a city.
Hooameye is offline  
Old Dec 8th, 2019, 01:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2015
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I Googled Winchester, it is really charming. Sounds like a great daytrip.
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Dec 10th, 2019, 01:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 177
Originally Posted by Hooameye View Post
"Winchester is a great little town"
It's actually a city.
And not just any old city but the ancient capital of England. To describe it as "a great little town" almost diminishes its historical importance (which I'm sure wasn't the OP's intention). Winchester is frequently overlooked by tourists many of whom prefer to head to Bath which, in my opinion, isn't a patch on Winchester.
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 03:00 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Originally Posted by aggiegirl View Post
That’s good to know. When I heard Anna, I wondered why the spelling Anna wasn’t used. Now I know!
For everyone who plans to visit the Anne Frank house and has a morning or an afternoon to spare, I recommend visiting the Rivierenbuurt, to see the home and the neighbourhood where the Franks lived, after fleeing to the Netherlands until they went into hiding. Their original apartment has been restored (and subsequently rather neglected as a place for writers in residence). The entire neighbourhood was newly built when the Franks arrived in the Netherlands, and housing was plentiful in that area (partly meant as housing for Jewish middle class families who wanted to move from the overcrowded Jewish neighbourhood around Nieuwmarkt and Waterlooplein) As you wander through the neighbourhood, make sure to visit Anne's (Montessori) school (she was there before jewish pupils were forced to attend jewish schools), where you can see a mural of a page from her diary on the wall.

Another sight to look out for are the large painted house numbers on the faÁades. During blackout, ordinary house numbers were illegible, and in Rivierenbuurt they also aided the nightly round-ups of Jewish residents. Quite a few still survive, for instance in Deurloostraat. Also bend your head to read the names on the numerous "stolpersteine" that have been installed in nearly every street there.

The Anne Frank house is one hiding place, for one family, in Rivierenbuurt it's possible to start fathoming what this really meant for a city. For instance, over 50% of residents were gone from Rivierenbuurt by the end of the war, their houses taken by non-Jewish dutch families.

(metro 52 from Rokin, stop Europaplein)

Geheugen van Plan Zuid - 287 - Struikelstenen - Stolpersteine

Last edited by menachem; Dec 10th, 2019 at 03:03 AM.
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