There are several ways to get to Bloemendaal from Schiphol Airport.
There is a taxi. But that costs from about £33 to £50.00.
There is the train. But you have to change trains in Amsterdam and, depending on the train, again in Haarlem. I believe that costs about £11.00. On the trains you have to either go down some stairs to sit, or upstairs to sit, and I know from bitter experience that I find that difficult with a large suitcase.
Then there is the special Airport bus which runs from the Airport to Haarlem Central Train Station and costs £3.00. It leaves Schiphol every six to ten minutes and takes 45 minutes to get to Haarlem. There is a designated lane on the motorway which only this bus can use so it overtakes and sweeps past all other traffic and hold-ups. It has priority at all road crossings!
(Image from – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuidtangent. It is NOT my copyright.)
Then one could either take a taxi from Haarlem to Bloemendaal which costs £14.00 or a train which costs £3.00.
I thought it would be more of an adventure as well as cheaper and easier with my luggage to take the Bus to Haarlem and then the train, and then a taxi in Bloemendaal from the station to the Villa Imhof if I did not feel like a walk.
This all passed off beautifully and I was very pleased with my choices. I felt less like a tourist on the bus with the commuters going home, and the Haarlem Train station ticket office were extremely helpful making sure I understood how their trains worked, where to get on and where to get off. They said not to bother sitting down because the journey only lasted 2 minutes. This was true.
So I arrived happily and confidently in Bloemendaal: however it was now dark, it being November and about six o’clock in the evening. The station buildings appeared closed for the day but there was a car park and a forecourt, so I took myself off to get a taxi. None.
Weary looking people were heading off into the blackness on bikes and in their own cars but one chap was being met by a wife/partner and while he was waiting for her I asked him where I should look for the taxis. He looked blank and then said that there were no taxis at the train station or anywhere else in Bloemendaal. One had to ring a taxi firm in Harlaam if one wanted a taxi.
My heart sank, it was cold, beginning to rain and I had no idea where I was going. I had no phone numbers for my friends in Holland or their family, and had not made a note of their hotel number either. My ancient phone could not give me a sat nav and stupidly, I never thought of ringing the Villa. However, I could see a map on a board so I went over to find out where I was and where I needed to be – cursing myself under my breath for being a stupid woman wanting some local colour. Well, I was going to get local colour all right. I was going to be lost in a maze of dark, tree lined and dripping roads, all looking completely anonymous, dragging my suitcase behind me, tired and panicking.
The chap came over to join me at the board and asked where I wanted to get to. I explained but he had never heard of the Villa Imhof so could not direct me. (That gave me pause for thought!). The roads were not labelled on the map so I could not find the address of the Villa there, and I could not see road names on the streets either. At this point his wife turned up and he went off to their car: but after some conversation he turned and asked whether I would like a lift with them. They would take me to my friends’ hotel of which they had heard, and then leave me there. I had a few misgivings but it is interesting how fatigue and bad weather affect the choices one makes.
They appeared surprised when I accepted their offer with alacrity! But a (by now) wild-looking, middle-aged, English woman was a creature they must have heard about even if they had not met one before,
(This image comes from – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2293725/Wake-wrong-bed-Dozy-koala-looks-far-thrilled-woken-soaking-garden-sprinkler.html and was taken by taken by Matt Wilkinson, 39, in the garden of his home in Adelaide, Australia. It is NOT my copyright. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2293725/Wake-wrong-bed-Dozy-koala-looks-far-thrilled-woken-soaking-garden-sprinkler.html#ixzz2qkLD768U)
I could not enter the hotel as the doors were locked and nobody answered the bell. After about five minutes a chap came up the steps to go in who had the door code and I jumped inside behind him: he looked surprised but my explanation seemed to be OK. He called for the hotel proprieter who came up from the gym. and who called my friends down and we fell on each other’s necks. They offered coffee or tea and an evening with their family but I decided I just wanted to get installed in my own place, eat the salad I had brought with me and fall into bed, so after a chat we parted. I was given instructions to get to my Villa by their hotel owner who seemed concerned and wanted to give me more help, for what reason I knew not, but at that point I just wanted to be in my room and rest, so with great insouciance I gaily told one and all that I would be fine, and set off. Apparently it was only a six or seven minute walk from there.
Well, I had not reckoned on the cyclists. They are a horror. They seem to ride on the pavements, take priority over everyone else and you have to look all round you before you make a move or you will be mown down. This was not helped by the fact that what I took to be a raised pedestrian footpath along the side of the road turned out to be a bicycle track. In which case there was no pavement for pedestrians to walk along then. My first warning was a frantic ringing of bicycle bells. Apparently I was lucky: usually they give no warning before they run into you.
My suitcase wheels were becoming clogged with mashed up leaves from the Autumn drifts which were now soaking with rain, and although I tried to follow the directions I had been given, I could see no name signs on any roads. However, I remembered the shape of the roads from the Google map I had seen at home and just followed my nose. Despite this I seemed to make no progress. As panic was rising again I suddenly found myself outside the Villa Imhof - but it was on the opposite side of the road from where I expected it to be so how I got there I am not sure.
I passed under the curved Hotel sign, walked up the soaking gravel path under the dark, dripping trees, to a large, looming house where a faint light shone in the distance through the glass in the front door. I rang the bell expecting to hear a corresponding tolling echoing in some subterranean region. Through the glass I could make out the gigantic orchestrion immediately behind the door: would it begin spontaneously to play, all 288 pipes booming a dire
An elderly lady rose up some stairs from the basement and came to the door and ushered me in. Her English was better than my Dutch which is not saying much, but with some French, a little German and lots of hand gestures we managed very well.
She proceeded to lead me upstairs to my rooms, gave me some keys, asked when I would like breakfast and explained that she and her husband, “who was rather reclusive”, lived only in the basement. As she left me she did say that I was the only person staying there that week.
Drumroll - dum de dum dum dum.
All the upper floors were empty and dark apart from me and a landing light. A cold hand clutched my stomach. The house fell under a total, soundless, blanket of quiet and I entered my suite.
To be continued.