I was recently on the bus 300 going to Haarlem to do some map shopping. Yes, we are still of the map generation although we do have gps and smart phones, but we always have a backup map of where we are going. I jumped on the bus right outside our door and switched at the local Graan voor Visch bus stop to the 300 heading to Haarlem.
Being the middle of the day I was not surprised to see the bus security team as I switched buses. This popular bus stop for the local technical university often has students that try to ride without a ticket. On this day, I saw that two very young tourists (identified as such with airline security destination tags still attached to the huge suitcases) were getting a ticket citation from the security team for not having purchased a bus ticket. Bad news for these two individuals and a bad start to any vacation! As the security team moved to the middle of the bus I heard them talking about how bad it was for tourists to be caught without a ticket but that seems to happen all the time.
I used my trained eyes of observation and figured that the tourists were either American or from Iceland. The partially blue haired young lady on the right hand side of the bus then started talking to her friend on the left hand side of the bus in American English (busted!). Fellow countrymen in Holland had learned a very expensive first lesson. Always have a transport ticket!
I watched as these young tourists talked casually to each other passing a large amount of Euro bills between the two across the bus. One was constantly looking at the overhead bus stop computer trying to keep track with the screen to identify where they needed to get off the bus. When they had gotten to their supposed stop they were the last ones and very hesitant to get off the bus. They looked lost and unsure! All the Dutch people sitting around me even commented, as these ladies got off the bus, at what we all could clearly could see, this was not their bus stop. We all had seen this sort of thing on this route enough before.
I briefly felt bad for them but then, that is part of vacation, experiences by mistakes. Or is it? I experienced an internal battle over if I should have said anything before they made their mistake. Maybe helped them when I saw that they had gotten a ticket? By the time I reached the bus stop in Haarlem I promised myself if I ran into them later in Haarlem and they still looked lost, well, it was my duty to help. How many people have stopped and helped me over the years when I needed some direction? Too many to count!
I walked around Haarlem, got the maps we needed for our trips we are planning, headed to the outdoor store to purchase some gas for my hiking stove. Made my way back slowly to the bus stop, window shopping before returning home. As I was approaching the bus stop, I saw the young lady with the blue hair standing right outside a store front looking as lost as ever. It had been at least two hours since I last saw them getting off at the wrong bus stop just outside of Haarlem.
I walked right up and said, “You guys are having a bad day aren’t you?”
She looked at me funny, and said “Yes”.
“How much did your ticket on the bus cost you?” I said and seeing her quick look of shock that I would even know about it, I quickly added “I was on the bus and saw the whole thing, how much was the ticket?”
She replaced her shock with a smile “€34”.
“Wow- that is an expensive start to a vacation.”
As I stood and talked to her it seemed that not only had they gotten a ticket citation, gotten off at the wrong bus stop, they now (as I expected) could not find the location of the AirB&B where they were staying, their phones and maps were not working and even after calling the host of the AirB&B they had no idea where the place was located or in what direction to walk. I offered to walk them to the location of the AirB&B if they had the address. Her friend who had just rejoined us on the covered sidewalk, looked as if she was close to tears over the entire day. Now trusting a complete stranger was maybe not the best idea in her mind for a good solution. I didn’t give her time to voice her concern as I started walking in the direction of the AirB&B and told them to follow me.
The happy ending to this story is that they made it to the front door safely, both host and tourist were now happy. I continued on my trip to return home via the bus thinking, well, another blog story to write (thanks young ladies from New Jersey!). I could write about everything they did wrong in planning and back up planning. Better yet, I could just research the bus situation and post some good information for those tourists that will visit Amsterdam airport in the near future. Hopefully someone will find this site, written by an English speaking person (that uses the bus and train system) and it will provide some helpful information for vacation planning.
Happy ending for the young ladies from NJ. I had lunch with them just prior to them leaving and they had a wonderful time and didn’t experience anymore issues. I was happy that the universe placed me on their route to help.
Tips for Public Bus Transport at Schiphol (AMS) Airport.
Most flights coming from the USA into Amsterdam arrive at arrivals hall 3. It is not very clear when you get off the airplane where the bus tickets can be purchased. In the past you could purchase on the bus with cash from the bus driver. That is no longer the case on the N397 (Amsterdam) or the 300 (Haarlem) as you can buy a ticket from the driver but you must be able to use a credit card or bank pass that works in Europe.
TIP #1 – Make sure you have a way to pay for a bus ticket.- NO DOLLAR OR EURO CASH is accepted.
TIP #2– Buy your ticket at the red van parked next to the bus stop at the airport.
Right outside Arrivals Hall 3 door parked next to the Amsterdam N397 bus stop.
Tip #3 – Never ride the public transport in The Netherlands without a ticket!
It is costly and they check often. Even if your AirB&B hosts say it is “OK, they never check.” that usually means that your host maybe doesn’t ride the public transport often enough to know that there are frequent checks.
Tip #4 – Consider a public transport pass for the days you are traveling in The Netherlands.
These two ticket boxes are located outside of Arrivals Hall 3 and close to the escalators. I have included these pictures to help identify these as they are not located in the normal foot traffic flow of the tourists.
TIP # 5- Ask questions about what your pass will and will not cover.
I have seen and experienced for myself issues with some of these offers and when you don’t ask and only assume what it is included, it can cost you a good bit of extra money and frustration. The information booth workers don’t volunteer any information and can’t read minds so it is always best to ask the question slowly, clearly, and make sure they repeat to you the answer.
Even though everyone here speaks English, sometimes what is said and what you hear can mean two different things, so to make sure you are getting what you need to complete you vacation without transportation headaches.
The public transport system around Schiphol Amsterdam Airport experiences frequent changes in schedules, routes, ticket prices, bus locations outside the airport, and tourist transport ticket specials. This is only a guide. Best advise is to be agile in your planning.
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