It took me 3 hours to get from Amsterdam to The Hague

It took me 3 hours to get from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to The Hague and only 6 ½ hours to get from Chicago to Amsterdam. Considering The Hague is only 40 miles from Amsterdam, you might be asking yourself, what took 3 hours! Let me start from the beginning…

I started out in Chicago where there were severe thunderstorms and a tornado warning that forced everyone into shelters, rooms w/no windows, etc… Luckily there was no tornado, but it created a bit of a backup at the airport. Security and check in were both shut down for 30 minutes during the warning and when they reopened the lines were long. The priority access lane was backed up past the economy check in counters. I haven’t seen that before at ORD.

My flight was running about 30 minutes behind schedule, which was understandable. We boarded the aircraft (which seemed to take forever) and were finally on our way. Soon the pilot announced that we’d be arriving in Amsterdam early! Not just a little early, but a full 50 minutes early. It always amazes me how you can depart 30 minutes late and still land on time or in this case early! Well, sure enough, we landed early – 60 minutes ahead of schedule.

I was through customs and baggage claim by 9am. I made my way to the trains. I’ve taken the trains in the Netherlands many times so I was pretty sure I’d be in the Hague by 9:30 or 9:45 and would have a full day in The Hague. Well, that’s where things turned a little crazy. It seems that department of transportation picked this very week to conduct major track renovations – great timing! Therefore there were no direct trains to The Hague. Oh no!

I bought a ticket (which by the way I had to pay cash for since they now ONLY accept credit cards with chips & pin smart card technology for train tickets) and asked for directions. I was told to take the 9:05 train on Platform 1 two stops and then switch to the next train. I did that and 10 minutes later I was at the next station. I asked for directions from there. I was told, get on the 9:15 train on Platform 7 five stops and switch to the next train. By this time I was a little confused with all the switches, it was pouring rain now and no announcements were being made in English. An elderly couple started providing translation for me. They were from Washington DC and very nice. They offered to let me tag along with them and they’d get me to The Hague (where they were both originally from.) I did that and 10 minutes later I was at the next station. I then boarded that train and was told this train goes to The Hague. Yay! I would be there by 10am.

After about an hour and 10 or so stops, we pulled up to a station, a few announcements were made, a lot of people got off the train and then the train started rolling…backwards. We were going in the wrong direction. What was going on? Were they switching tracks? This couldn’t be right. The elderly couple asked a conductor what was happening. He said, “We made an announcement; this train is no longer going to The Hague. You should have gotten off at the last stop. We’re going back to Amsterdam. WHAT? Amsterdam? I just came from Amsterdam. OMG how could this be happening. So we rode the train back to one of the stations where we could switch and get onto a train that would take us to the Den Haag HS station (the non primary station in The Hague.) At this point, I didn’t care what station I ended up in, I just wanted off the train.

To make the whole situation more comical, I was dragging – and I literally do mean dragging – my 58 pound suitcase which United kindly tagged as “heavy” with a bright orange tag. It was quite heavy by the second train switch…by the fourth train switch I wanted to throw it out a window and buy new clothes!

Three hours after I left the airport, having seen pretty much all of the Netherlands on the train, I finally arrived in The Hague. How am I getting back to the airport you ask? I’ve booked a shared car service for about 30 Euros and it will be worth every penny if I don’t have to lug that suitcase on and off the trains!

I’ll have plenty more from The Hague this week!


14 Comments on "It took me 3 hours to get from Amsterdam to The Hague"

  1. Wow, what a rough travel day! I hope things got better for you. I lived in The Hague for a summer when I was on an internship back in grad school YEARS ago. Looking forward to your trip report.

    Regarding purchasing your train ticket, were you trying to purchase it with your credit card from an automated kiosk or from someone at the ticket window? I’ve heard that the machines now only accept chip and pin cards, but what about elsewhere. Did you encounter any other problems trying to use you “traditional” magnetic stripe card elsewhere?

  2. Oh dear! I have to do this very journey next week for a job interview and I’ve already booked my flights!! Any way I can check if the track improvements will be done by then?

  3. @LincolnPark – I was trying to purchase the train ticket at the window. They told me that they now only accept cards with chips. The only other problem I had was in a cab. Otherwise, everywhere else has been swiping it for me.

    It should be a good trip…other than the unexpected train drama 🙂 Next time I won’t trust a friendly elderly couple from DC…what do they know 😉

  4. Not one of the best things to experience…. Even without all the luggage.

    But it’s a school holiday this week and the next, that’s why it’s one of the better times to upgrade the train infrastructure. Normally it then runs with a slight delay, but when things go wrong they normally go wrong in a big way.

    Your car will probably get you back pretty quick, traffic is also less busy during the holidays. Normally during rush-hour it wouldn’t be a very good idea. It has taken me 2 hours more than once….

  5. @LondonTim yes, you can actually check on this site they said that construction would be done by the weekend because the kids are back in school. So hopefully you will be okay.

  6. @London Tim
    Everything should be completed on October 22nd….

  7. Are you travelling for business or? 58lbs is alot for anything less than a month or 2

  8. Great story. Glad you finally made it there!

  9. @FrequentMiler – me too!!

  10. @Unhappy 1K – yes, I’m on a 5 week business trip. Part of the trip is in Europe (cold) and the other part Thailand (hot) made for complicated packing. Plus, probably 5 lbs is some toiletries and things that I donate every time I go to Thailand.

  11. Glad you arrived safely! United put the HEAVY orange tag on my 51 lbs bag last year. Just think of those arm muscles you are building! So, is a Chip card in your future…I’m thinking this could be a TV commercial for the rebirth of Diners Club. Loving my Chip and PIN, yes PIN not signature, card.

  12. Glad you arrived safely. Nice meeting you in Chicago.

  13. I did that very route on Wednesday 10th October. I guess I was lucky as the train went directly and only took 50 minutes!

  14. @Chris__A – you probably didn’t get lost 🙂

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.