Amsterdam, Netherlands; Day 1

We continued to get good use of our Eurrail pass today with a journey from Brussels to Amsterdam. We’re relieved it was uneventful because there was a railway strike in Brussels today but it was scheduled in advance and over by noon. By the time we arrived at the station it was very crowded but the various union members looked to be grabbing a bite to eat and heading home (on the train). We had a bit of a zig zag route but passed through some lovely countryside.

Planning for Amsterdam has been a bit of a challenge. As we get deeper into June, all our destinations have gotten more crowded as summer and cooped up Covid travelers get out and about. We had a bit of trouble finding a place in Brussels and finally settled for two small and somewhat expensive efficiencies near the train station.

For Amsterdam we were hoping to find an AirBnB apartment rather than be split between two hotel rooms. As we searched for places over the last few weeks they were either outside the areas we wanted to be near or were really expensive. Mostly they were both. We were happy early last week to find a new listing that seemed perfect – in our price range, enough space and a good location. Then they cancelled on us. Ugh. No worries – another place had just come onto the platform – affordable, good size, good location, we were all set and the key would be under the mat.

Until we were at the train station waiting to board today, then we got a message that the host had a family emergency and wouldn’t be able to meet us. We weren’t even sure what that meant. Would the key still be under the mat???

We decided to roll the dice and show up at the address in the listing and see what happened. Well – it was nothing good. The host was unreachable, the address was actually a hotel instead of apartments and the AirBnB support line was not much help. Despite more than a dozen AirBnB stays on the trip, this was a first. No place to stay and it was almost 6pm.

The kids were great. We’d warned them things were a bit dodgy and lots of patience would be required. They sat and read books while the parents worked through the options.

In the end it turned out fine. AirBnB support cancelled the booking and we’ll get a full refund. We got ourselves into two hotel rooms in a decent, slightly off the beaten path hotel that won’t break the bank. And it has foosball. Sigh – at least we can say goodnight to this hassle of a day.

Amsterdam is our 13th major city since our arrival in Europe on April 1. We’re not sure how many museums and touring ‘old stuff’ is on our agenda for this stop versus just hanging out and enjoying the canals, parks and other aspects of life in the city – we’ll see.

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