The Netherlands
September 5, 2018

My 10th and final day in Europe, the last 4 of those nights in Leiden. Time to depart this city, one familiar landmark in the city is the windmill "De Valk".

I had a few more hours, before I needed to be at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to fly back to Chicago. What railway lines had I still not ridden? One line was the new high speed line north of Rotterdam to Schiphol Airport, which the Thalys train was not able to use a few days earlier. That line is also used by an "Intercity Direct" service, operating strictly within the Netherlands. I would catch such a train here at Rotterdam. There was a "toeslag", or premium charge of 1.40 Euros during off peak hours. Which could be deducted from a stored value card by touching the pad here.

The Intercity Direct trains are reportedly limited to 160 kmph or 100 mph. Unlike the international Thalys trains capable of 300 kmph or 186 mph. A few years ago I was looking at some Google Maps satellite imagery near Hoogmade, which is a town near Leiden where I often rode my bicycle when I lived there during my childhood. I saw something on the map imagery which I did not recognize. What is this? It was the new high speed line! Near Hoogmade is the north end of a significant tunnel, passing right under the farmland where I used to ride my bicycle. This photo is a short distance north of Hoogmade. I probably rode my bicycle near this windmill at least once, long ago.

One final ride into Amsterdam Centraal Station. This view is from the station looking across the station plaza. A streetcar is to the right, and a stairway down to a Metro (M) line is also visible.

Major railway stations now have gates like these, which require a smart card to pass through. I had taken this photo a few days earlier in Leiden.

At some stations including Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, there are no gates, just these posts with touch pads which read smart cards. If there are no gates, one must remember to check in and check out with the card. This also applies to streetcars and buses, one must check in when boarding and check out when exiting.

At Schiphol Airport I boarded a plane to London Heathrow, where I connected to a flight back to Chicago. Before boarding, I stocked up on some Dutch chocolate.