Dear Diary: Castle, trains, solo flight and my first day in The Netherlands

Dear Diary: Castle, trains, solo flight and my first day in The Netherlands

Before I came to The Netherlands, I already had plans how to make my short stay worthwhile. My schedule the day after I arrived was to visit one of the castles in Netherlands since it was the only time I had where I could fit this agenda. In all honestly, I really didn’t have an idea that you could find a lot of castles across the country. I know that it is famous for its windmills and that’s it! So when I knew about its castles, I thought that I really have to visit one of them. With that, I went to the famous Muiderslot Castle in Muiden.

But first thing’s first, how can I go to this castle from my hotel in Zaltbommel? Unfortunately, it’s like a 2-hour ride from my place and I have no idea how the transportation system works in The Netherlands.

Transport system in The Netherlands

One of the top things that I admire in Netherlands is the transportation system. I admit.. It was really intimidating at first because of the following reasons:

  • First, the transport system is entirely different from what we have at home.
  • Second, I have never been in a train before.
  • Third, I don’t know how to purchase a ticket.
  • Fourth, What is a tram?!! and-
  • Lastly, I just don’t have an idea how everything works from schedules to getting off one train to another.

Yes, SCHEDULES! Buses, trains and trams have timetables here. So if you don’t want to waste your time waiting for the next ride or waste your energy catching your ride, it pays to check the timetable first.

Going back.. I’m really glad that Dimitar, my friend in the Netherlands, helped me figure out everything that I need to know. Even though it was also a challenge because he was not around to help me personally.. but with a mobile data and a cellphone, we were able to video call and pull things together. After that, I realized that it’s not that difficult at all as long as you have internet connection and a mobile device where you could check the schedule. If you’re not really familiar which platform to take (for the train) or which station to wait (for the bus), the timetable could also help.

A piece of advice: Make sure that you’re on the correct platform so you won’t hop on the wrong train. YIKES! Or better yet, ASK. It wouldn’t hurt. On my way back to the hotel, I couldn’t find my train on any of the screens so I started to worry that maybe I was on the wrong platform. I asked a random guy which platform we were in and he was very kind to answer my questions. 🙂

Train station in Zaltbommel, Netherlands

Waiting for the train at Zaltbommel train station

Riding a train from Zaltbommel

Cheers to my first train ride. This deserves a selfie!

So from Zaltbommel, it took 2 train rides, a couple of walks and a bus ride to get to Muiden. I got off the bus at Muiden, Brandweerkazerne and had to walk for a couple of minutes to get to the castle. I actually don’t have an idea where to go but again, Dimitar was a great help because he was sending me directions through Facebook Messenger.

 

Beautiful neighborhood to Muiderslot

I really enjoyed this beautiful scenery despite getting lost

Beautiful neighborhood to Muiderslot

Helpful street signs to Muiderslot

I had no clue where to go but these street signs were very helpful 

There were also signs in every corner so it also made me feel at ease.  I couldn’t believe I went out all by myself. Plus, it was a Sunday and most of the establishments were closed. I thought finding the castle would be a walk in the park but since I was born with a broken compass– no sense of direction — I got a bit lost along the way. Anyhow, I just enjoyed the moment, took pictures and admired the peaceful morning and the wonderful city. It’s not everyday that I get to experience such beauty.

Finally.. Muiderslot (Muiden Castle)

 

Muiderslot Castle view from the entrance

Muiderslot from the entrance gate

                     Muiderslot Castle guides     Muiderslot Castle guides

Alas! I found my way! I noticed that there were some people– mostly families — that are heading to a certain direction so I thought they’re also going to Muiderslot and followed them. Honestly, I was expecting a long queue by the gates (where you have to purchase tickets) but there wasn’t. If you have any of their valid gate pass or cards, you can walk straight through the sensors where you just have to tap your card to open the gates. In my case, I had to exchange my Holland Pass “silver” coupon for an entrance ticket and a free guide (a map and some interesting information about the castle). I also took the guided group tour. I initially told the staff  that I’m fine all by myself but she insisted that I should take it so I could see the exclusive parts of the castle. Since it also comes free with my silver coupon, so why not?

The tour was not okay. It would have been really better if it was in English. Like in some parts of the tour, everyone was laughing  on something I don’t understand and I had to pretend and laugh with them too! Talk about blending in, eh? HA HA HA! I lost track of time but I think the tour lasted for an hour. After that, we were free to roam around the castle.

 

Castle Muiderslot group tour assembly area

This is the assembly area for the guided group tour

Misadventures on my way home

On my way back to the hotel, I had to ask Dimitar for directions again but this time, I tried to do things on my own. As expected, things didn’t turn out very well:

  1. I ALMOST missed my bus
  2. I missed my train
  3. I was freezing my ass off

I took the same route going to the bus stop at Brandweerkazerne. From afar, I saw my bus pass by and I had to run fast to catch it. That was really close!!! But at the train station, I think all my luck drained out because I missed my train. I was stuck at the entrance because I couldn’t find the gate for my ticket. There were like a row of gates for the chip cards — or I don’t know what they call them but my ticket was different because it comes with a QR code and the gates won’t accept it. I spent 20 minutes at the entrance trying to figure out how to make things work and asking people for help. Fast forward, the gate was just hidden around the corner and I had to wait for the next train.

Utretch train station

Utrecht train station

It was a really cold evening and I had to endure the cold temperature and the light rain as I walked from the train station to my hotel.

By the end of the day, I still couldn’t believe I went that far. I had a lot of first times and I felt really proud of myself. My first solo trip is far from home and I made it safe and sound.

 

Cheers to castle, trains, solo trip and my first day in The Netherlands. 



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