THALYS9323Paris Gare du Nord to Amsterdam Centraal StationAfter breakfast at Aux Villes du Nord, we headed to Gare du Nord for our ride to Amsterdam.
Soldiers were patrolling the station that day as it was Bastille Day (silly me, shouldn't have left on Bastille Day, they have military parade at Champ-Elysees and fireworks at night).
Signage in French, German and English makes it easy to navigate around the station.
Opened in 1864, Gare du Nord is one of the six major train stations that connect Paris to almost every corner of France and beyond.
Ticketing machines are conveniently placed around the station for commuters to purchase their tickets in advance or on that day itself.
The spacious interior is also shelter for birds.
It is a busy and crowded station so watch out for pickpockets!
We spotted our train at platform 8. The train is heading for Amsterdam Centraal Station via Brussels and Schiphol Airport.
Covered in the red and sliver livery designed by Enthoven Associates Design Consultants (BEL) and Avant Premiere Design Graphique (FRA), the Thalys trains stood out from the mundane coloured trains at the platforms of Gare du Nord.
Compared to the Eurostar, the Thalys is a lot cheaper. Therefore, we opted for the Comfort 1 (79 Euros, one way, and advance purchase).
The seats were designed by Clerprem (ITA) which was comfortable and spacious with various settings for its incline. The seats also have a 2-pin, 220 V power socket.
Comfort 1 also offers access to the Grand Voyager Lounge in Paris but you would need to register for a Thalys Card first. We weren’t able to use the lounge as our ride took place on Bastille Day. The lounge closes on public holidays. Elsewhere in Rotterdam, Schipol and Amsterdam, you can relax and chill at the NS HiSpeed Lounge before departure.
The best part of travelling on Thalys Comfort 1 is the free Wifi which allows you to surf the net and check your emails throughout the 3-4 hours ride. You could track the train’s progress with GPS if you have a smart phone. Comfort 2 passengers could also enjoy wifi for a fee.
On-board, we were pampered with complimentary afternoon snacks including pastries, tarts and drinks.
As our ride continued into noon, lunch was served. Thalys’ recent menus are based on the new Momentum theme dubbed “Momentum MediTERRAlys”. The menu utilizes vegetables and fruits that are in seasons and makes use of recipes including organic produce wherever possible. Furthermore, the ingredients are sourced regionally to reduce the producer and consumer distance (cutting logistical costs). At the same time, the food is meant to be healthy and contributes to sustainable development.
Our meal consisted of a salad, a dessert and mains. The salad is simply lettuce served on a pool of mayonnaise-like dressing.
The salad looked pathetic. Tastewise, it was still okay.
Our main course is Couscous served with Ham and Stewed Vegetables. Very appetizing and delicious dish, the stewed vegetables was sweet and tangy and went very well with the couscous. The bread was rather tough and cold.
The dessert is a kind of Berry Cake, a little too sour to our liking though.
Last but not least, finish your meal with a cup of coffee or tea.
If you are still feeling peckish, there is a snack bar in the train.
Then sit back and relax (or sleep) as you enjoy the views across Belgium and Netherlands.
Gare de Scharebeek, Brussels, Belgium. The station was opened in 1887.
Belgian rowhouses along the tracks.
Crossing a bridge, weather not looking too good.
You could spot the iconic windmills of Netherlands. Along the way you would be able to see modern windmills that generate power as well.
In about 3-4 hours’ time, we arrived at Amsterdam Centraal Station.
Thalys is an international consortium of the French, Belgian, German and Dutch national railways. You could travel to Cologne, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Schiphol, Brussels, Lille and Paris on the Thalys. Go for Comfort 1 if you could afford it. Try to book via the Thalys official website instead of RailEurope.