Here is the front of my house with the door wide open. Out in front is the "spider tree" and a couple of typical Dutch bicycles, plus a typical American mail box. Huh? Unfortunately not all days in Holland are so bright and sunny. The rooms are at the top, up two flights of steep stairs. The smaller double windows face out from the apartment's sitting room. Other windows face out from the bedroom on the other side of the house overlooking the garden.
B&B Paula is a fully furnished apartment occupying the entire top floor of a typical Dutch home. It is ideal for 1 or 2 adults plus a small child or two.
Where is B&B Paula?
My home is located in a quiet pastoral neighborhood on the west side of Haarlem, circa 3 km (2 miles) from the city center. For an on-line map enter B&B Paula Haarlem in the search bar of Google Maps. This shows you the location of B&B Paula on the west side of Haarlem and most of Haarlem at a scale of 2mi/2km. Use the zoom in positive sign or roll your mouse wheel forward to zoom in to a scale of 500ft/100m. Drag the map to move around in any direction. The satelite view shows you what the neighborhood looks like from 22,000 miles up. Use the print icon to print the close-up map and extended versions with address and telephone number for your reference! If you get lost ask someone for directions to the Ramplaankwartier (rahmp lahn quar tee air), the district where I live and it may help. If not, they should know the cafe restaurant Wapen van Kennemerland, just 50 steps from my front door. This cafe and restaurant, known to old-time locals as The Stinking Bucket, is also shown on the map just to the left of my house. Why is it called The Stinking Bucket? I'll tell you when you get here, but it doesn't stink any more!
The rooms consist of a bedroom, a sitting room with cable TV, a completely equipped kitchen, and a shower room. There is a double bed in the sleeping room, with an additional single bed available. The couch in the sitting room opens to a third bed. The toilet is exclusive for guests and is back down one flight of stairs, all of 5 seconds. The kitchen includes a coffee machine, refrigerator, stove, and microwave oven with pans and complete table service. See photos of the rooms for more information
Included in the room price is a typical hearty Dutch breakfast of cheese, meats, eggs, bread, fruit, and yogurt, with coffee or tea. If you have other dietary preferences please let me know when you confirm your reservation. After daily breakfast other meals are not included, but you can go to the market and shop for something to bring home and prepare yourself. Virtually every variety of international cusine and beverage is available in Haarlem or Amsterdam. Make yourself at home!
The base rate is €50 per night for one person. The rate is reduced retroactively to €45 if you stay a 2nd night and to €40 for three or more nights. The rate for a second person is €25 per night. See the calculation sheet for total prices.
|B&B Paula Calculation Sheet|
|TOTAL||€50||€90||€120||€40 X nights|
|TOTAL||€75||€140||€195||€65 X nights|
For children the cost per night equals age. Example, €10 per night for a 10 year old child.
Sorry, I am not set up to accept credit cards. The nearest bank cash machine is the ABN-AMRO in Overveen, approximately 1,200 meters north.
To request a reservation please send an email with
1.) your arrival date
2.) your departure date
3.) number and ages in your party to:
My email address is bbpau[email protected]. I will reply, normally within 24 hours, to let you know if the rooms are available for your dates.
See you in Holland!!
Buying an anonymous OV-chipcard would be worthwhile if you travel a lot with public transport. If you are familiar with the Oystercard in London then the OV-chipcard will not be a mystery. However, it's a bit complicated to explain. Basically you swipe it over a reader IN a tram or bus or BEFORE you board a metro or train — AND swipe it again BEFORE you get off a bus or tram and AFTER you get off a metro or train. The GVB, Amsterdam's public transit company, has a good website to get you introduced. The English version is at GVB. For specifics on the OV card see OV-chipkaart.
How to use the OV chipcard
You buy an anonymous OV card for €7.50 per person, put travel money on it (the minimum is 10 Euro), and you can use the card all over Holland on trains, busses, metros, and trams. The cards are available at the train stations, in Haarlem station at the AKO and Primera bookshop in the hall, and some Super markets like Albert Heijn. The OV chip card is valid for 3 years.
An OV-chipcard is cheaper than buying tickets on the bus, tram, or train each time you ride. Using it for the train saves you waiting in line for a ticket machine (they don't accept credit cards) or at a ticket window. On the bus you just swipe your card over the reader (red screen) on the lower part of the machine and you take a seat. For the train and Metro there are poles at the stations where you have to swipe your card over the reader and walk to the platform to the train.
Don't forget to check out when you get off the tram/bus or leave the train/metro station!!! Just swipe the card in front of the reader again and it will deduct the money you owe them, according to the time you spent on the vehicle or the number of kilometers. Doing this you also can see how much money is still left on the card.
Recommendation of a former guest at B&B Paula:
1) "The anonymous Chipkaart is well worth purchasing for those, like ourselves, who like to get about and see other towns in Holland. A word, though, about topping it up. Unless you have an experienced friend with you who can show you how the machines work, go to the counter and get them to do it for you. The €50 cents transaction charge is worth it.
2) "Visitors should hold their Chipkaart in front of the lower part of the machine, not the perspex display. We tried several machines before realising that it's not the 'eye' that reads your card but some invisible component underneath."
If you plan to use public transport rarely or stay for just a few days in Holland, you would be better off to go for the ticket windows and machines or buy a card from the bus and tram drivers, because you can't turn in the OV Chipkaart and get your money back.
The train system in Holland is one of the best in Europe. Service is frequent and fast. It covers all of the major cities, most of those along the way, and many platforms in the middle of the fields. Maps and schedules are posted in every station. The web site Holland by Train has schedules and prices for trains throughout the Netherlands and a link for international services. The train system is officially called the Nederlands Spoorwegen, abbreviated NS.
The NS is trying to get people to use the ticket machines rather than buy rail tickets at ticket windows. They have put a penalty on ticket window sales of €0.50 for every ticket. So it is cheaper, and usually faster, to use the ticket machines. The machines accept coins (euros only) and bank "chip cards" only. Unless you have a bank account in Europe you probably do not have a chip card. Credit cards and debit cards will not work in these machines.
From Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport to the Haarlem train station:
It is very convenient to take the bus to Haarlem train station from Schiphol, and you get a nice view of the Dutch countryside as you travel. Connexxion bus number 300 from Schiphol (pronounced 'skip hole') Centrum, Airport/Plaza to the Haarlem train station is a big red comfortable reticulated bus and departs every 10 minutes. Make sure that the bus you get on is going to Haarlem and not Amsterdam! You can buy a ticket on the bus (ask for a ticket to the Rollandslaan stop). Get off at the Haarlem train station. The bus depot is right across the street from the station. Watch out for speeding cars on that short street! Change to bus number 14 to the Dekamarkt grocery store on Rollandslaan near B&B Paula (direction Heemstede). This bus goes once a hour! Or take bus number 81 (twice a hour) direction Bloemendaal and get off at the Ramplaan stop. If you take bus number 81 direction Bloemendaal, get off at the Ramplaankwartier stop on Korte Zijlweg (street). Walk to the Ramplaan, kitty-corner from the bus stop, until almost the end of this street, and then left into the Leendert Meeszstraat. This is about 700 meters (700 yards). The walk will take about 10 minutes. Enter haarlem gvb duinwijk in the search box on the Google map to locate this bus stop.
To take the train from Schiphol Airport you buy a ticket in the airport outer lobby area, go down to the underground station, and catch any train which stops at Amsterdam Sloterdijk (pronounced 'sloa ter dike') station. There are 6 trains per hour which stop at Sloterdijk. Get off, go down two levels to spoor (platform) 7, then catch the next connecting train to Haarlem. You shouldn't have to wait more than 10 minutes for the connecting train. Total travel time is 40 to 45 minutes depending on how long you have to wait at Sloterdijk for the connecting train. You can also change at Amsterdam Centraal Station (after Sloterdijk) making the journey in about the same time and for the same price, BUT !! the Amsterdam Centraal Station station is more confusing for first time visitors and it is a rat's nest of professional beggars, pickpockets, baggage thieves, street druggists, and other non-Dutch lowlifes. As the signs in Amsterdam say, "Let op zakkenrollers!" "Watch out for pickpockets!" Also be careful on the train, especially just before it starts. Baggage thieves can grab your laptop and jump through the closing doors. This may sound alarming, however violent crimes like muggings and murder are almost unheard of in Holland.
An alternative is to take the train to Overveen. However, there is no bus or taxi service from the Overveen station so you have about a 20 minute walk, due south. If you come to Overveen by train buy the complete ticket at Schiphol. There are two trains per hour to Overveen with the Sloterdijk connection.
A faster, and thus more expensive choice, is a taxi straight from Schiphol Airport. The best choice is probably the The Haarlem Airport Service at €28.99 one way for one person or more who can fit in. Luggage space in taxis is probably OK for 2 or 3 carry-on bags maximum. You can get further information and reserve on the website De Haarlemse Airport Service. Or you can phone 023-844-7777 from the airport. From the USA dial 31-23-844-7777 after dialing your international access code, 011.
From the Haarlem train station to B&B Paula:
The Haarlem bus terminal is in front of the station. Walk across the street and locate the bus stop, line 14 direction Heemstede. If you have trouble ask someone. Almost everyone speaks English and several other languages. You want to take a bus to the corner of Ramplaan and Rollandslaan. There is a very small strip mall there and a Dekamarkt grocery store across the street. That's where the bus stops, 300 meters from my front door. Walk south to the end of Ramplaan and then left 1½ blocks on Leendert Meeszstraat to 104. If south is not evident, ask someone on the street for directions to the well-known cafe restaurant Wapen van Kennemerland.
The taxi rank is toward the left in front of the Haarlem train station. A taxi to B&B Paula typically costs less than €15. Ask the driver for his estimate before getting in the cab. Bring a copy of the map because some drivers do not know the area on the west side of Haarlem.
To visit Amsterdam from Haarlem:
There are 8 trains per hour for an 18 minute trip from Haarlem station to Amsterdam Centraal Station. From Overveen there are only two trains per hour (hh:24 and hh:54). In summer there are four trains per hour. Buy your ticket at one of the ticket windows in the east hallway of the Haarlem train station, from one of the ticket machines and save €0.50, or use your OV-chipkaart. Tickets are not sold on the train and you are subject to a fat fine if you are found on a train without a ticket. To view the schedules, costs, and other options throughout the Netherlands go to Nederlands Spoorwegen. There are also schedules and a map in the station corridors and on each platform.
When using the OV-chipkaart you are charged 19 units for the trip between Amsterdam and Haarlem.
For International Tickets and Holland Discount Tickets:
Go to the NS (Nederland Spoorwegen, Netherlands Railways) International Tickets office in the Amsterdam station or buy your tickets on line. If you are scooting around Holland a lot you can buy a pass that will save you significantly for a week of travel. If you want to make a day trip to Brussels or Antwerp, buy a Super Dagretour (pronounced 'dahhg re tour') ticket and save a hefty percentage. Super tickets are valid for departures after 9:00 AM weekdays, but are not available on weekends or during July and August. Seniors, students, and children up to 11 years are eligible for other discounts.
Haarlem is a beautiful and interesting city on the Spaarne River. Canals, of course, several famous museums and cathedrals, a medieval town square, plenty of restaurants in all categories, and a jovial nightlife make this city a jewel for visitors. Most of the people speak English, and some speak French, Spanish, or German. Haarlem is very convenient to the popular North Sea beaches of Zandvoort and Bloemendaal, and the world famous Keukenhof Garden which comes alive for eight dazzling weeks in April and May. If you are into this kind of stuff, it also has red lights and weed houses like Amsterdam, its big brother just down the road. Haarlem rates two stars, "worth a detour," in the Michelin Green Guide.
Museums in the Netherlands are among the most expensive in Europe. So get a Museum Yearcard at any museum for about 40 Euro's and after four visits it's more than paid for itself. And it saves you standing in line. But sometimes you have to pay a small extra fee for special exhibitions, so you better search the internet before you go into a museum. You also can buy your museum tickets on line.
In the surroundings of B&B Paula:
Several wooded areas with public access are within walking distance for those who enjoy nature.
A classic Dutch cafe, the Wapen van Kennemerland featuring a decor of antique bourbon bottles, is only a one minute walk from the front door. Zandvoort on the beach is an easy 20 minute bike ride through the dunes or on a flat bike path. Bicycles are available at B&B Paula with advance notice for an additional 2 euro per day. You can also catch the train at Overveen or bus #81 to go to Zandvoort.
Two world class events take place in Holland every spring. One is the blooming of Keukenhof Garden, magnificent acres and acres of tulips and other bulb flowers. The other event is Queen's Day in Amsterdam and throughout Holland. If you click the links you'll see part of my trips to each in 2008. People come from around the world. Queen's Day is only one day, April 30, unless it is a Sunday. Keukenhof is open for about eight weeks but you never know which week is the best for tulips or which day is the best for your visit because the weather is so variable in Holland.
For more information about Holland:
Visit John Bermont's web page Prime Travel Data, The Netherlands with information on a number of basic things to know or have at hand. This page also includes a list of recommended guidebooks, maps, and dictionaries for visitors to Holland. I have a few of these in my library available to guests.
For more information about the city of Haarlem:
Chapter 30 of John Bermont's How To Europe: The Complete Travelers Handbook presents a short introduction at Haarlem.
When you arrive, the VVV Tourist Information Office for Haarlem can provide you with maps and information brochures for the city and surroundings. There is a charge for the city map but it is less expensive than other maps available in bookstores. Try to arrive during the day since the VVV is only open during business hours. The VVV is located in front of the V+D department store, in the middle of the Gedempte Oude Gracht at the intersection of the Grote Houtstraat. Officially this little 70 meter piece of the earth is called Verwulft. It's about 750 meters south of the train station or 250 meters south of the Grote Kerk ("Big Church"), Haarlem's landmark. The VVV website is Haarlem.
Current weather data for Holland can be found on several sites:
The euro is the official Netherlands currency. The symbol is €. The value changes constantly. Visit Exchange Rates for information on the euro and links to up to date conversion rates.
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