Trip Start May 10, 2009
Trip End Jul 02, 2009

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Flag of Netherlands  , Noord-Holland,
Friday, June 12, 2009

Mmm, that’s odd – I’ve woken up before my alarm… I wonder what the time is?
HOLY CARP! It’s 7:45am and my Contiki tour left 15 minutes ago!! After that brief moment of “you idiot, you should have left your phone near the bed where you’d wake up to the alarm” (it was charging near the powerpoint) I wasn’t too concerned. After all, western Europe has some of the best interconnecting transport around, and when it really comes down to it – the first day of the Contiki tour is bus-ferry-bus from 7:30am through to 4:30pm, so what was I missing? Not much, probably just the white cliffs of Dover and getting to know the people on the tour.

I raced down to the Contiki basement in the Royal National, but they only opened at 9am… good thing one of the people inside was walking past the doors at that moment and she let me in; “Ben is it?” – ahh, looks like they knew I missed it!

I was originally thinking, the Eurostar would be the best & quickest way to get there, but it was only going to get me there at 7:30pm… for 225!! EasyJet on the other hand gets me there just before 4pm for only 108, practically the same time as what the tour group will get to Amsterdam – done!

On the plus side I now have all the time in the world to make my way to Gatwick airport, and my passport will get a stamp from the Netherlands instead of another French one :-)

Got off the tube at Covent Gardens, since I had time I was thinking about dropping by the London Transport Museum, but they didn’t open until 10am, and upon second thoughts… I probably didn’t really have the time to spend there that I should. It’ll have to be another trip as I won’t have time to call in on my last day in London amongst the other attractions I’m visiting.

In the end, I would have had heaps of time to visit the London Transport Museum, as my flight got delayed by 20 minutes, and even with the train from the airport to central station in Amsterdam getting delayed, I still made it to the hotel before the Contiki bus – by like 90 mins! They hadn’t done anything apart from drive straight from London without stopping anywhere, so I didn’t miss a thing.

The hotel by the way, is like a 15 minute drive from the centre of Amsterdam… when I was coming out here I was thinking, “This is going to cause troubles for sightseeing, where on earth are we staying!” Up until now I’ve organised where I’m staying (except in St Petersburg & Oslo), and I’ve made sure I was either in walking distance to the city or that I was only a couple of metro stops on a main line away. Not here… although public transport gets out here, it’s going to be more of a pain to just go off and see things in your spare time.

So, group composition? I was expecting maybe 50% Australians, but our numbers are more like 80% with the rest being made up of Americans, South Africans and one Kiwi. From the little I’ve seen everyone is really friendly and our tour group leader Jackie is really cool, so perhaps it’s going to be alright.

After rushing down some tea, we headed into Amsterdam…
… after which we went down to the youth hostel and had a few drinks before catching one of the last buses back around 1am.

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