I am a bad traveller. I will qualify that. I am okay with long flights (having just done a 24 hour stint one-way, to be repeated in the next couple of days) and I am okay with new sights, smells and tastes. Actually I thrive on travel. It is amazing and I learn so much about myself. It is also to a degree a comfort that we are all so similar no matter where I am in the world.
Yet, I am a bad traveller. I have absolutely no sense of direction and public transport… meh! It’s like trying to escape from an escape room – I am hopeless. Herewith the tale of my Saturday in The Hague, Netherlands.
I am an early riser of late (no idea how that happened and not sure I like it) and so I was up and dressed by 630am. Only to discover breakfast is at 730am. This should have given me a clue …
Find my way to the railway station around 830ish, and manage to buy a return train ticket with minimal fuss. Through the barriers and down the stairs and wait around, since I am 15 minutes early for the train. Another clue …
On the train, off to The Hague and it is an easy, albeit fast, trip. I arrive at The Hague Central station. Oh my hat! Clue #3. It is huge. Now we have some big interchanges in Melbourne, but this is a different scale – train, tram and bus are all in the same depot. I manage to turn myself around and exit via a convenient door.
I should add that Google Maps is no good to someone like me. I usually end up walking in the wrong direction for about 10 minutes before I figure it out and walk back. There have also been changes which are not updated to the Maps, so life becomes interesting. Clue #4
Out the door trying to find a tram / bus to take me to my first destination. And I could not find the stop. Clue #5 Now I can read Dutch, so signs are not an issue, but I just can’t seem to walk in the right damn direction! So I walked 3km to my first event of the day. Yes walked, because I am too proud / stubborn / idiotic to go to the tram I see and ask if I can buy a ticket on board.
So 5 clues already that this day was going to be epic.
Had a wonderful time wandering around Madurodam. Until eventually it got to mid-morning and it was time to head back. I wander out, manage to find the tram stop (it was right outside the venue so hard to miss) and get the tram back to The Hague Central.
So far, so good. I google things to do and end up walking around the city centre for a good couple of hours. See lots of stuff and eventually decide, it’s time to go to the beach. Out comes google maps, and I spend the next 30 minutes trying to find a bus stop. I get run into by a bicycle as I am not paying attention, get super close to a tram and literally turn in circles.
Eventually I find the tram/bus stop, which I kid you not!, was 1 minute walk from where I started! Deep breath. Get on the tram, stand and eventually get a seat. (Oh! Did I mention this was open monument weekend? A big event around the Prince Parade held in the week. So heaps of people. And it was warm weather). Off to the beach we go.
Thanks to other tourists I get off at the right stop and wander down. By now I am anxious, hungry, hot and supremely overwhelmed. A sandwich and beer later and I feel like I am ok enough again to explore. Up I get, walk along the promenade (and by now I am sure the universe is taking the piss) because google maps gets me lost. I wandered all around the seaside town (beautiful architecture) trying to find the tram stop that google assured me was 250m in front of me.
Instead I find a bus stop, after about 20 minutes of wandering. Get on, discover I need to buy a ticket and then discover that I am heading in the wrong fucking direction! I can hear my bloody guardian angel laughing uproariously in the background. Sigh, thank the driver most profusely, and jay walk across the road.
Get on the bus (I wonder if you can see the pattern yet?!) and head back into The Hague. On the bus there are 2 stops for the Central station depicted. I stand at the first and note there is loads of construction, and wait for the second stop. Which is literally 10m from the first. FML. Now I have further to walk than if I got off at the first stop.
Wander around the station, since google assures me that what I am looking for is 300m away, and yet, it must be fucking invisible. I see nothing. Big bloody buildings and signs and NOT what google says is there. So I give up. It has been a long day, and I just want to go back to the hotel, soak my feet and have a long, hot shower.
The sign clearly says that is my stop, so I travel up the escalator, and hop on. In my defence, trains and trams look similar at first glance and I am fucking tired. Then I realise it is not 2 stops to my destination, but a 35 minute ride. I am on the damn tram. I hop off, in case I can get to the train I should be on – and realise that is just pointless, so wait 7 minutes for the next tram to come along.
As I travel back with the tram, I see more of the country and it really is a beautiful trip. I also see where the train is that I should have been on. Get to the station, so that I can go up in the lift just to go down the escalator towards the hotel.
It was a good day out and I did many things. But I realise that I am just hopeless at travelling and using google maps. I must have forgotten to stand in that line when they were handing out talents!
The clues line up like this:
Train to The Hague ; walk to first event (since I was too stubborn to ask) ; tram back to city centre ; get lost ; tram to seaside ; get lost ; bus back to city centre ; get lost ; tram back to hotel.
So if you ever just want an adventure that is not planned and certainly will give you sore feet, come travel with me 🙂