Me and my cowriter of the Books section of renegade7x Domc went on a short trip to the Netherlands last week and here is our quite long story:
I found this trip on my favorite Czech discount websites for the very cheap price of around 60 euros for the bus ride from Prague. So far I had only positive experiences with booking trips online as this was my fifth travel trip through a discount website called Hyperslevy (link for all my Czech/Slovak readers)
I made a reservation and exchanged several emails with the travel agency.
Agency offered extra boarding cities including my hometown Hradec Kralove where I study and work. It’s 2 hours away from Prague. Domc currently lives in Prague what was another boarding city so we decided it would be easier for me to board in Hradec and for her to board in Prague. Agency told us it would be no problem and we were set without any idea what a huge problem it would be in reality.
I boarded in Hradec at 16:30 pm and our bus headed to Prague to get another passenger Domc including as we were sitting together on the bus. During the drive there I texted her how our bus looked like and our current location. We were supposed to be in Prague at 18:30 pm. and we entered the city at around 18:20 so I texted her we will be at the boarding place shortly.
However, our bus suddenly took a turn and headed away from Prague.
I found it weird but as I’m not very familiar with the Prague road system I just thought we wanted to avoid traffic so I texted Domc we would be probably late.
15 minutes passed and we were a long way from Prague without Domc on board. At this time our Czech speaking delegate came to me and asked me where my friend was. At this time I was so confused and I kept telling her she is supposed to board in Prague at what our delegate told me “she’s not there” and I said, “she is but we’re not there”.
After another few confusing sentences, I learned that there were 2 busses and my friend was supposed to board to another one. So basically travel agency without our consent split us into 2 busses and Domc would transfer later when our 2 busses would meet.
No one bothered to tell us thought.
Domc was standing in front of the bus that she was supposed to board for 15 minutes what resulted in 15 minutes delay for both busses so all of the other passengers were pretty upset with us but not as much as we were with the agency.
And this wasn’t even the worst thing that happened for the ride to Netherlands.
At our last boarding place in the Czech republic 6 clearly drunk and horribly smelling men boarded the bus. Of course, they sat right behind us and our personal hell began.
They kept drinking the whole time, alcohol and cigarettes smell spread through the whole bus, they were so loud and vulgar and just plain stupid it was unbearable. Language like straight from the pub and they didn’t give a tiny rats ass that there were small children sitting next to them. They spilled alcohol over the floor and even on one lady’s bags several times and since they were drinking all the time they kept peeing in the bus toilet that was locked, so every time they needed to pee, they had to go al the way to the front of the bus (we were all sitting in the back) to ask the driver to unlock the toilet for them so the driver got pretty upset with them as well.
It was horrible, all of the passengers were complaining, they tried to warn them themselves but it was useless. They were drunk, vulgar, and aggressive and they almost got into a fight a few times.
There was no sleeping for the bus.
The minute I closed my eyes I heard one of them go “I came here to party not to sleep I could have slept at home”. Let me remind you the bus was full of 40+ years old ladies, families with kids, me and my friend, and 6 30+ years old drunk pigs. There were 56 passengers altogether.
The travel directions we received from the travel agency before the trip clearly stated that the agency has the right to cast out any passenger who is consuming alcohol, drugs, is vulgar and aggressive toward other passengers but all of this was just pretty bullshit. Delegate came to them like thee times and each time she gave them “last warning” otherwise she would throw them away from the bus with no financial restitution.
Sadly that didn’t happen even though all of the 50 other passengers would welcome it.
I attended bus trips many times and never did I realized the importance of your co-travelers. Luckily our drunk heads calmed down at around 5 am and we were getting off in holland at 6:30 am.
Another negative thing about the drive was that there were almost no toilet breaks. Driver is supposed to make safety stops every 3-4 hours but that did not happen. Since I boarded at 16:30 till 6:30 there were only 2 toilet breaks!
I realize I have been complaining for quite a while but this was the “only” negative of the whole trip.
Holland was incredible and from now on I’m gonna tell you only positive experiences about the trip.
Our first stop in holland was Keukenhof tulip gardens, the biggest and most beautiful tulip gardens in the whole Netherlands and it truly is.
Garden opens at 8 am and we were a bit sooner, we got tickets for 17 euros and spend there 3,5 hours. As we had some time to spend before the opening we went to a small market to buy tulip onions for our own gardens. 10 euros for 3 bags of 10 onions.
It was much nicer at these early hours as there were almost no people while at noon the garden was so crowded there was almost no place to move and it was impossible to take nice picture without other tourist photo bombing you.
Gardens were in great shape, perfectly cut, incredible color combination, many beautiful decorations that looked incredibly on photos. I believe there is not much I could say about it and it would be better for you to see some of the many pictures we took in there to truly see the beauty we experienced:
What you can find in Keukenhof gardens besides tulips:
- coffee shops
- benches to rest
- wheelchairs to borrow for older people
- retro car shops
- flowers shaped into pictures (like hearts, faces, river)
- the well, small rivers, waterfalls
- animals – ducks, swans, goat, chicken, pigs, rabbits, parrots
- old cars and flowers growing out of them, retro motorbikes and cars as a decoration
- Netherlands white and blue ceramic
- Beach, indian, valentines and many other themed sections great for photographs
- King Arthur’s sword Excalibur in rock (we were not worthy to pull it out)
Keukenhof is 110% recommendation must see when visiting Holland.
Our next stop was Zaanse Schans. Another beautiful sigh but I did not enjoy it as much as the gardens as the weather was a bit unpleasant. It was starting to rain a bit. It was so windy and the place was full of people so it was annoying to walk with umbrellas on such narrow roads as there were.
We had 3 major stops at Zaanse schans – first was cheese related. We went into this old building where they demonstrated the original preparation of Netherlands cheeses and we even got to try a bunch of different cheeses – some really delicious and some I couldn’t even swallow.
Next was the clogs demonstration.
They showed us how they make clogs from the log in just several minutes. We also got to see many clogs and ceramic at the gift shop:
The third stop was the windmill itself.
We paid 4,50 euros extra but it was so not worth it, we just got to see the inside of the windmill, climb upwards but since it was so windy and rainy outside we couldn’t even took proper picture so I did not like this attraction.
We still got a few minutes to spare so we went to Zaansen Schans museum for free.
But to be fair I have no idea what was it about as I guess we were supposed to take a free audio guide to explain to us what was all of the exhibitions about, but since we had only like 10 minutes we just passed them by, took some photos and headed for a bus:
From there we headed to Amsterdam.
We arrived at 17:00 pm and left at 21:30pm.
Our group went on a boat trip and wax figurines museum but me and Domc did not want to attend those so we went on our own and created our own program.
First of all, we were starting to get cold so our first stop was Primark so we could buy some warm scarves.
From there we just wandered aimlessly through Amsterdam, we made a stop at the gift shop where we bought some souvenirs for our friends and family.
Amsterdam is famous for its liberal beliefs, legal access to weed or prostitution.
The whole place smelled like weed and it reminds me of my university dorm hallways. You could buy weed products, souvenirs, or sex toys at every gift shop you could find. I got weed lollipops for my friends.
We bought some sweets at this cute shop and ate them with the view from the bench over the river. We also bought coffee at Starbucks and relaxed for a bit and posted some photos on the internet.
Prices were almost the same as in our country.
We saw many people eating these fries so we tried them as well with sweet chili sauce. They also offered free mayo with herbs what tasted great but their ketchup was just bad.
You can’t find public restrooms in Amsterdam so if you want to use the bathroom you need to go to some restaurant – we choose McDonald’s for 50 cents where we also got some snacks and chilled for a bit.
In our next wandering, we came across the Museum of torture so we went in for 7,50 euros.
It was full of torture instruments with description on “how to use them”, vivid photographs, and stories in many different languages.
The place looked like the basement and it was dimmed with scary red and blue light like this:
We did not follow the map, we just occasionally checked it if we did not go too far away from our boarding place. Suddenly we were on Amsterdam’s famous Red light district street.
It’s famous for shit tons of strip clubs, bars, and easy access to prostitution, room renting, and drugs. There were girls dressed in lingerie dancing in shop windows and seducing bypassing tourists and trust me there were a lot of tourists on this street. Our delegate warn us not to take pictures of the ladies as they don’t like that very much and might leave or get very upset.
I get that – I wouldn’t like people taking photos of me while I’m working as well.
Being from middle Europe where people are way too conservative and still consider homosexuals as something rare, unusual, and huge sin our delegate put homosexuality into the same liberal category as prostitution and drugs, and actually “warn us about them” which was kind of offensive in my point of view as an LGBTQ+/supporter.
For me personally, Amsterdam went up high on my top cities I visited list.
I loved the view, old buildings, bicycles everywhere, nature, coffee shops with cute colorful chairs outside. I was thrilled by how everyone we met speaks perfect English, not like when I was in the states where it took me a while to adapt to a certain accent, or in Paris where just very few people could speak English. People were so nice – some of them even smiled or said hello to us what was just so shocking for us as we are so not used to something like that.
We kept walking the streets till evening and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the city.
At 21:30 we were all on the bus heading home. I was so afraid our horrible night from before would repeat as our guy group kept saying how they’re gonna get wasted and stoned in Amsterdam. Thank God when they turned the lights off in the bus all of the guys fell asleep and we all could enjoy our night of peace. I arrived home on Sunday at noon full of great experiences.
What I did not know before I visited Netherlands:
- Amsterdam has the lowest criminality even though the prostitution and drugs. I felt like the worst behaving people were the Czechs from our bus.
- Another fact I did not know before was that the whole country is under sea level what was so mind-blowing for us as we were driving through the country, the sea was actually above us.
- I had no idea the blue and white ceramic was originally from the Netherlands, even though we had a couple of them at home since I was a kid.
- Well, I never really thought about why there are so many tulips in the Netherlands or what they do with them afterward. I learned that holland distributes onions worldwide with vegetables and fruits they grow in there.
- Clogs – well know holland shoes but why did they start to wear them in the first place? Well as the Netherlands is under sea level and the whole country is full of water people needed shoes that would not leak and wood was perfect for moist tulips fields.
- Amsterdam is not the capital city of the Netherlands
Even though the ride to Holland was hell, the country was heaven and we had a great time.
Thank you for your attention