Driving Rental Car from AMS

Aug 9th, 2011, 06:08 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2011
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Driving Rental Car from AMS

I'm planning on renting a car in Amsterdam in October and driving from Schiphol to Waterloo Belgium for a few days, then spend the week in Cologne on business, drive back to Waterloo for the weekend, then return the car to AMS.

Any difficulties I should be aware of? I am from the States and used to driving in the UK. Just have not driven much in Europe.

Should I order a GPS unit?

Thank you.
davidjhawkins is offline  
Aug 9th, 2011, 07:14 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7,722
It's not a problem to drive. GPS can be helpful, esp. on the dense motorway network in the Netherlands. And for getting in/out to the final location in Cologne.
But are you sure that you need/want a car? You can take the train from AMS (the airport station) to Waterloo in just bit more than 2 hrs and just one change in Brussels. You won't be able to make it that fast by car.
Same for Waterloo-Cologne, also 2.5-3hrs by train with one change.


Having driven in the UK, you will know the international sign language for speed limits etc already. That we drive on the right and that speed limits are in kph and not mph is probably too obvious to mention.

The motorways are "toll-free" in all three countries. You can expect some dense traffic in Holland, and also in Belgium, especially on the R0, the Brussels beltway, which is notorious for traffic jams almost all day.
The Cologne beltway, which has no own numbering, but is the ring which make the motorways A1, A3 and A4 around the city is also notorious for traffic jams, esp. during rush hours.
Directions are not given by "north" or "west", but just the number of the freeway and a prominent destination.

A slight oddity in Belgium is that place names often are only used in either Flemish OR French, depending on where you are.

Example:
From Waterloo to Cologne, you go a bit north on Ring Zero until you hit the interchange with E40, the motorway to the East.
You know that you will have to head in the direction of Liège.
Though, there is no sign for Liège, just to Luik - because the R0/E40 interchange is already located in Flanders, so only the Flemish place names are mentioned, regardless whether the destination is in Flanders or not. You can see on this pic what I mean (hopefully)
http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand...vensWoluwe.jpg

Same procedure with other waypoints, like Aachen, the first major town at the BE/DE border. It's Aken in Flemish, and Aix-la-Chapelle in French.
Obviously, you won't see a sign for Cologne in Germany, but only Köln.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 12:57 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 1
Driving in Europe isn't that hard as you think. Great Brittain is a lot harder to drive around because they drive at the other side of the road, so it's pretty creepy the first days.

If you rent a car near the airport of Amsterdam, Schiphol, I can recommend you BB&L Car Rental. Compared to other mayor car rental companies they have an excellent service and great prices.

If you book online you even don't have to go to the counter or wait in line to do all the paperwork. They just wait for you at the arrival in the airport and take you to your rental car. Take a look at http://www.bblcarrental.nl to see their rates.

I hope you enjoy your trip around Belgium and Holland...
greenlife9 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2011, 06:08 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,522
Get a GPS with European maps before you leave. That way you can update it, download Points of Interest and route information etc and generally become familiar with it before you leave.

Both TomTom and Garmin sell models with European and North American maps. Look also at places like Amazon.com, eBay and Kijiji for deals. Just the other day I saw someone selling a Garmin 1370 on Kijiji with both sets of maps for $130. They had used it for a trip to Europe and no longer needed it. My preference is TomTom (and they are a Dutch company) but stick to one of the 2 big names... TomTom or Garmin.

My TomTom also has what's called lane assist... it shows me in advance which lane to be in on motorways and autoroutes. Very handy in scenarios as described by Cowboy 1968 above.

Make sure you have decent maps before you leave as well... a GPS in the car is a real boon but they are not great for planning and getting an overview of what you want to do.

Some luddite will no doubt soon chime in saying 'you don't need a GPS'. Well that's true, but you don't need to travel either! But if you do choose to travel... a GPS is a very handy companion to have along! ;^)
ParisAmsterdam is offline  

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