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One of the novelties I have enjoyed the most in the Netherlands is to travel with the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (or NS for short). My only train memory prior to Europe is a very old one from the last times there was a passenger train in Mexico (before 1992). We took the overnight trip and played cards and had fun crossing each wagon. In the Netherlands, I have experienced all sorts of train trips; most have been very pleasant and just a few have been a bit troublesome. However, nothing has been too much to handle and I’ve always reached my destination.
Two friends from Mexico came to visit this month, and we moved around by train a lot! They arrived at Schipol so we first took the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal or the central station of Amsterdam. The NS changed their papieren kaartjes policy two weeks ago in order to promote the use of the OV-Chipkaart, which is a plastic card where you put in money to travel by train, bus and metro. The disadvantage of the card for tourists is that it costs €7.50 and the card must have €20 in order to be able to check in when you travel by train. However, papieren kaartjes are still available but have an extra charge of €1 per ticket. My friends and I experimented with both OV-Chipkaart and papieren kaartjes, and I think the ease of having money in the card for metro, trams and buses makes the cost of the card very much worth it.
This trip with my friends showed me how reliable the train is. It is really the best option for travel within the Netherlands. Of course, there are beautiful places and landscapes to see by car and the possibility of having pie on a terrace overlooking tulip fields or discovering a quaint little town. However, for travel within the main cities, it is ideal. Riding on the train gives you the possibility to read, check social media (intercity trains have Wi-Fi) and even take a nap if your travels have left you sleep deprived. You save on parking which can be very expensive in some cities, especially Amsterdam where a day’s parking in the city center can cost up to €60. The main train stations of all the cities and towns are usually in the city center so you can quickly walk to the museum, park, or square of your choice.
My favorite advantage of traveling by train and one that I experienced yesterday was the ease of going home after a long day of being a tourist without worrying about staying awake during the drive, gas, or which highway to take. Even with the delays I experienced yesterday to get home (there were repairs on the line that takes me straight home from Amsterdam so I had to detour), I was relaxed and comfortable. The friendly people of NS explained what my options for getting home were, and the journey was uneventful. I napped, read, and practiced Dutch listening skills as I eavesdropped on conversations (all for the sake of learning, dat beloof ik!)
I will continue to consider myself a trein meisje and will take advantage of the ease of traveling. I encourage you to try out the train during your next visit to the Netherlands!
de NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen)- Dutch rail
het openbaar vervoer – Public transportation
de conducteur – Conductor
de trein- train
de OV-chipkaart- public transportation card
de kaartjesautomaat- ticket machine
het kaartje- ticket
het saldo- balance
Inchecken- check in
Uitchecken– check out
het spoor– platform or rail
Reizen- to travel
het vertrek– departure
de aankomst- arrival