May 14, 2012

Best of Holland (Day 3, 14 May 2012)

Into Day 3 and we kicked off with a diamond polishing demonstration at Gassan. Holland is a diamond polishing centre and I was hoping for some bargains but prices were not as attractive as anticipated.

To be honest, I didn't really browse properly...whatever free time we had at this first stop, I hustled it to a store down the road called Hema which we passed on the way in. Tsolmon had mentioned they sell nice and cheap stuff here and she was right.

I picked up kids' bikinis for 4 euros, and a bunch of pretty partyware with prices ranging from 1 euro to 5. I even bought serviettes, pink polka dot paper plates, party favours, cocktail umbrellas and a long kids' umbrella. I had about 15 mins to shop and pay so I grabbed whatever appealed to me, never mind whether I needed the item or not. I felt like I was on 'Supermarket Sweep'!

I've already gained a reputation as a shopper among our tour mates, every time they see me I have several shopping bags!

After Gassan, we rode the bus for about 2 hours to Venlo to visit Floriade, a horticultural expo that rolls around once every 10 years. It was a bit of an anticlimax after Keukenhof, mainly gardening exhibits with very little flowers and boring pavilions. We went on the cable car ride to get a bird's eye view before stopping for lunch with Phebe and Zalina.

Thereafter, we spent another hour or so exploring the grounds and taking photos at the only stretch of flowers before hightailing it out of there and abandoning the group. I had grand plans to visit the Roermond Factory Outlet and the ride to Venlo saved me one train trip, as Roermond was 30 mins away by train.

Nick and I took the shuttle bus to the train station and purchased tickets to Roermond, it was about 4.40 euros each and the ride was under 30 mins. It was easy enough to find the outlet store, a 10 min walk from the Roermond train station.

My main targets were Gucci, Prada, Mulberry, Burberry and Desigual so I focused on those stores. Nothing much at Gucci, could tell some items were 'straight to outlet' and the service at Prada was bad but still I picked up a wallet, clutch and cosmetic pouch. Also bought two tees from Desigual and we had a simple dinner at McDonalds.

My poor boy spent most of his time sitting on benches outside the shops. For some reason, there was a hidden tag in his new Gap jeans that had not been cut off and the security sensors would go off loudly each time he tried to enter a store so he gave up and waited outside. On hindsight, I should have insisted he go to the loo and find the culprit barcode but the idea only just occurred to me.

We had an early dinner at McDonald's where I tried a McKroket burger and some shrimp. After a couple of hours, we made our way back to Amsterdam. The ride was 2 hrs and the fare over 20 euros each.

We didn't know we had to change trains if we wanted to alight at Muiderpoort, which was the station nearest to our hotel, we didn't understand the announcements. At one particular stop, a lot of people started alighting and switching carriages and we found out the train was being split into 2 and those heading to Amsterdam Central had to move up. Luckily we asked someone else I don't know where we would have landed up!

The boy got cranky when he realised we'd bypassed the Muiderpoort station. We had to alight at Central and spend extra money to take tram no. 9 back to Wichttenbachstraat! I always do these things to him!

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