South to Tilburg
It sounded easy- walk to Amsterdam Central station, catch a train to Tilburg an hour and a half away, just one change......
We had already purchased our tickets, but we had to work out the final destination of the train we needed. On arrival at the station, looking at the timetables we worked out we needed the train to Maastricht at the extreme south of the country, but soon after we got on the very comfortable double decker Inter City, we realised from the on train notices that the train was only going as far as the next big town - Utrecht.
Luckily, we managed to get free on train wifi, and worked out we needed to get a train to Breda. Once we arrived at Utrecht, we identified the platform and rushed on to the train standing on it......to find it was the train to Den Haag ie west not south. Before we knew the doors had closed and we were on our way. More feverish online timetable scouring revealed that the next stop was Gouda (home of the cheese) but there was nothing going south from there, so we had to get a train further west to Rotterdam, and then finally get a train that both went south and stopped at our destination Tilburg!
Luckily, the Netherlands is not a big country and the trains run very frequently between the major towns, so we only added about an hour to our journey......and saw more of the country!
Water water everywhere
I think it is well known that the country is very flat, but it is hard to emphasise just how much water there is here. Every few yards there is a canal or drainage channel. Most of the canals in the country side do not appear to be linked and have no vessels on them. There are however some very wide ship canals which clearly have a lot of commercial boat traffic. There does not appear to be any culture of boating for pleasure on the canals. Just on some of the lakes. Boats appear to be either house boats that do not move or commercial vessels.
The trains are very comfortable and frequent. Tickets are not too expensive and you do not need to book a seat as there is plenty of room for all travellers. Our tickets were not checked and we did not have to pay any extra for our additional travel.
We arrived in Tilburg at about 12.30 and walked round to our city centre hotel 10 minutes away from the station. Tilburg is the sixth largest city in the country. It started to grow during the Industrial Revolution, when wool factories were set up, thus making it the wool city of the Netherlands. As of April 2011, Tilburg had 206.186 inhabitants, making it about half the size of Bristol. The hotel is just off a nice square with cafes and bars around it, and it looked quite nice with the afternoon sun on it.
Punk Music festival
We have come to Tilburg so that Paul can attend a music festival here which takes place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Paul is only attending the Friday though which starts at 4pm. The hotel is only a few hundred metres from the venue. As soon as we arrived in Tilburg Paul saw someone he knew!
Once in the hotel we relaxed for a while, then we went out for a look around the town, which to be fair, is a typical 1970s built town centre. There is a nice square outside our hotel though and lots of bars and cafes. We then walked round to the venue to get a wristband to allow for passing in and out, before the event kicks off at 4pm. We bumped into some more people that Paul knew and had a bit of a chat, then it was back to the hotel to relax before the gig.
Tomorrow we head back to Amsterdam, and hopefully the train trip runs a bit more smoothly.