Archive for April 12th, 2020

April 12, 2020

Schiphol is Amsterdam!

And here is another public transport post from yours truly! ok airports are like my second home due mostly to my management job. I tend to write briedly on them while doing the recount of my trips but sometimes it is important to give them credit. Not much to spent time on them but a necessary time nowdays.

After the above rant, here is my take on one I take often ,Schiphol Amsterdam airport. And do I have stories to tell but will just tell one ::) Poor Schiphol it gets so much connections from all over ,even needlessly trip north to then fly south lol!

First, brief history I like:

Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport, more simply Schiphol (IATA code: AMS • ICAO code: EHAM), is the main international airport in the Netherlands and one of the busiest airports in Europe. It is located 17.5 km from the center of Amsterdam, in the town of Haarlemmermeer.

Originally, a Fort Schiphol forming part of the defense line of Amsterdam, a belt of fortifications around the city, is located near the site of the current airport. Before 1852, the Haarlemmermeer polder ,which today borders Schiphol did not yet exist and there was a large lake there, known for its sudden and violent thunderstorms. This is where the name of the place comes from: an arm of the lake, located near the town of Amstelveen, is called the Schipshol, literally “schip hol”, or the hole, the boat refuge.

When the first civil aircraft began to use it, from December 1920, it was sometimes called the Schiphol marshes as French pilots ironically call it “Schiphol-les-Bains” (Schiphol the baths) because a Farman Goliath plane sank in the mud. In 1963, work began to significantly enlarge the airport and create four new runways: the village of Rijk was demolished and the new airport, further west than the original, was inaugurated in 1967, as was the passage of the A4 highway by Schiphol. In 1977, construction of the airport business center was completed.

Ok, this is a simple to navigate airport and well layout for people mover, the flights is another story. As it is known to be pretty good but in my experience not at all.

The Schiphol airport has six runways. The airport has a single terminal, which under one roof brings together three interconnected halls, themselves made up of boarding branches from B to H. The construction of branch A, announced in 2012, should be completed in 2020 , to bring Schiphol’s total capacity to 80 million passengers per year!


The Schiphol airport is also equipped with a train station served by Thalys and NS regional trains. Opened in 1978, it was made underground in 1995 to clear the Schiphol Plaza, a commercial space of several thousand square meters. Schiphol was also one of the first airports in the world to offer offices on its territory, reachable on foot from the terminal. They are known as the World Trade Center.

For info , the Schiphol plaza in English: Schiphol 24 Webpage on the Schiphol Plaza

For info the WTC webpage in English: World Trade Center Schiphol Amsterdam


The air traffic control tower was the tallest in the world when it opened in 1991, reaching 101 meters. A second was built in 2003, at the end of the newly inaugurated runway. Schiphol airport is also one of the lowest airports in the world since it is 3 meters below sea level. It is supplied with aviation fuel by NATO’s network of pipelines in Central Europe.

Ah ok a bit on the layout well its easy as one terminal and long boulevard walks. The Ground Level has the Arrivals. It connects with P1, and various hotels. Passengers have access to the ground transportation as taxis, buses and shuttles. In this area there are some restaurants and cafés, information desks, a supermarket and various other services as a hairdresser or lockers. The Second Level has Check-In and Departures. This floor is divided between East and West side. The East side: Departures area 1 and 2. It is located the Lounge area and there are gates of the B, C, D (D1-D57 and D59-D87 to the top level) and E. The West side: Departures area 3 and 4. They are served by check-in counters 17-32. It has Lounges 3 and 4 and there are gates F, G, H and M. Then, Gates are split in three areas (concourses):  Departures 1: Schengen gates: B, C and D gates. Departures 2: E gates, and Departures 3: F, G, H and M gates. Then, B to M gates are located on level 2 and D, E, F are in the top level. The Third Level has boarding gates and airlines lounges: It has VIP Lounges from 1 to 4 and airlines Lounges. It also has access to gates D, E and F.  Lounge 1: D gates.  Lounge 2: E gates.  Lounge 3 and 4: F gates (separate passport).  In this level you can also find the Yotel and Hotel Mercure, including the Exchange Avenue conference facilities. I have enjoyed the KLM Crown Lounges and they are very good. You got it , easy does it.


My biggest hassle here was a couple years back on my flights to Indonesia passing by Schiphol.

I had a crazy trip going first from Nantes to Amsterdam on HOP the regional French carrier who was totally late missing my connection with KLM there at Schiphol. The flight was delayed due to fog for almost 1,5 hours!!! no way to get any flights on a Saturday to needed to stay at a hotel and flight the next day Sunday. Yikes!!! I do not think will be on HOP again. Gladly never had afterward!


The rest was nice as KLM gave me a nice shuttle bus ride to the Bastion Best Western hotel with dinner, breakfast included all free; then a 10€ voucher for lunch on Sunday. The return shuttle bus was nice also. By Schiphol,  I have been before and always lateness there do not understand why going around you need to fly north and then south !!!


The hotel Bastion BW i stayed complement of KLM: Best Western Bastion Hotel


Again, this is consolation but comparing with other airports where connections I have made anywhere in the world, the only times been late for not fault of my own have been at Schiphol! It must be my jinx yikes!!!

The official Schiphol airport webpage in English: Official Schiphol airport

The Amsterdam tourist office on Schiphol airport in English: Tourist office of Amsterdam on Schiphol

The Holland tourist office on Schiphol airport in English: Tourist office of Holland on Schiphol airport

There you go a brief connection airport, as the other time at Schiphol was there was direct flight and no connections needed and another occasion with Thalys trains. The Schiphol airport is a jinx I am telling you, any experiences with it? Hope it helps you and thanks for reading.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


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April 12, 2020

Transports of Rome!

Oh well a while back I told you about the buses of Rome, Italy. Well we have taken the train to Lido and metro, so will keep the souvenir in my blog by telling you about the transports of Rome, train station, metro and tramway. We preferred the bus for info. Hope you enjoy it

The Termini train station of Rome is the most important railway station in Rome and Italy and one of the busiest in Europe. It is managed since 1998 by the company Grandi Stazioni, a subsidiary of the Italian State railways (Ferrovie dello Stato) .The name of the station does not mean terminus, but derives from the nearby Diocletian thermal baths.

The station is located on Esquiline Hill on the site of a populous neighbourhood of the 2C, later abandoned, which included rural estates of patrician families. During the 16C, the Villa Montalto-Peretti was built there, owned by Cardinal Felice Peretti (who was later a Pope under the name of Sixtus V). The villa was later acquired by the Massimo family, who ceded it to the Vatican when it took shape in the 19C, the plan to build a large train station. The first temporary station was built in 1862. The final construction was carried out from 1867. In 1938, the final project for the construction of a new railway infrastructure was approved, the original construction proving insufficient to meet the requirements of an ever increasing number of travellers . The works were interrupted in July 1943 and the work, which lacked only the monumental hall on the square and a side access overlooking the via Marsala reserved for the royal family, was not finished until the Jubilee of 1950. The high structure facing piazza dei Cinquecento, where the ticket office and restaurant are located on the ground floor and offices on the upper floors, is the result of a competition launched in 1947, The ornament on the border of the glass and reinforced concrete awning protecting the ticket office was done later.

The Termini station wing that runs along Via Giovanni Giolitti has been renamed ala mazzoniana or Mazzoni wing, especially since it is the only part of the station whose architecture fully corresponds to the original project. And after several years of abandonment , the room originally intended for the ticket office as well as that intended for the restaurant, surmounted by a gigantic hood covered with marble, were restored in 2000. The dead end rail terminal includes 24 platform tracks dedicated to national and international trains, plus four other tracks for regional lines in Lazio (including the famous Rome – Pantano line) as well as the Leonardo Express train which provides a direct connection with Fiumicino airport.   Termini station is easily accessible by many bus and tram lines. In addition, by Termini station, it is served by the metro lines A and B that cross there underground, as well as by five of the eight regional rail lines in Lazio region run by Ferrovie regionali del Lazio – FR. Anecdote I like as saw the movie is that in 1953, the Termini station was the scene of the shooting of the eponymous film Station Terminus (Stazione Termini ) directed by Vittorio De Sica.

Trenitalia travel by trains in Italy on Termini in English: Travel by train from Trenitalia on Termini

The shopping gallery at Termini Station for info in English: Termini station Rome on Shopping gallery

A popular trains site Seat 61 well explain in English: Seat 61 on Termini station Rome


This train line we took! nice ride! The Roma Lido to Ostia Antica , located 30 km from Rome, Ostia Antica was one of the Roman villas most prosperous as it was an important commercial port.   The Roma–Lido railway is a line connecting the Porta San Paolo Station in Rome to Lido di Ostia, Rome’s seaside neighborhood. The railway is 28. km long, stops at 13 stations has interchanges with Metro Line B at Piramide (where we took it) , Basilica San Paolo and EUR Magliana. Outside the Greater Rome Area, it stops in the neighbourhoods of Tor di Valle, Vitinia, Casal Bernocchi, Centro Giano, Acilia and Ostia Antica. Then, it proceeds to Ostia itself, where it stops at five stations. It terminates at Cristoforo Colombo..

The line began on December 20, 1918 and the official ceremony for the start of the work was done a few days after the presence of King Vittorio Emanuele III. The king also laid the first stone of the future station at Ostia on December 10, 1920 .Due to heavy pressure from the government and Benito Mussolini in person, by then head of government, the line was inaugurated on August 10, 1924.The inauguration of the Rome Metro line B enabled Ostiense Magliana station to serve both the Metro and the Roma Lido line. Later, the Roma Lido line was extended all the way to Termini train station.



The metro or subway or Underground we took briefly as well.

The Rome Metro or Metropolitana di Roma is the metro/subway/tube of Rome. Inaugurated in 1955, making it the oldest metro in Italy, it currently includes three operating lines, for 60 km of tracks and 75 stations. There is the Line A connects Battistini to Anagnina. Line B joins Laurentina and Jonio, as well as Rebibbia . Line C, with automatic control, links Monte Compatri – Pantano to San Giovanni in the city center. It is   managed by the company Azienda Tramvie ed Autobus del Comune di Roma (ATAC S.p.A.), controlled by the city of Rome.    The inauguration, however, never took place because of the entry into WWII of Italy in 1940. The works resumed in 1948 while the exhibition district became a business district and took the name of EUR, acronym of the exhibition. The line was inaugurated by the President of the Republic Luigi Einaudi on February 9, 1955.


A bit of overall on the metro lines which for me took briefly the line A and several times the line B are

Line A (we tried it) with 27 stations and 18.4 km connects the west of Rome near the Vatican to the popular suburbs of the southeast. From Battistini terminus to Anagnina terminus, the main stops are: Ottaviano – San Pietro Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica). Flaminio ( Piazza del Popolo and Villa Borghese park). Spagna ( Spanish Steps). Barberini , Via Veneto (Trevi Fountain). San Giovanni (Lateran Basilica of Saint John). Cinecittà (cinema city). The line is completely underground except for a bridge over the Tiber river.

Line B with 26 stations and 23.1 km including 13 km underground connects the terminals of Laurentina in the south of Rome to Rebibbia and Jonio in the north. Two services are operated: from Laurentina to Rebibbia and vice versa, as well as from Laurentina to Jonio and vice versa. The main stops are: EUR Fermi, in the district built for the 1942 Universal Exhibition (EUR) which never took place. Basilica San Paolo ( Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls). Garbatella   ( Centrale Montemartini museum). Piramide ( access to Ostiense station, the Pyramid of Cestius and the Testaccio). Circo Massimo (serving the FAO headquarters), Colosseo (Colosseum station). Tiburtina, suburban station of Tiburtina) , Ponte Mammolo ( bus station).

And the newest Line C operating since 2014.with 15 stations , then six others opened in 2015. It was not until 2018 that the line C joined with line A, with the opening of the San Giovanni station. Line C now links San Giovanni to Monte Compatri – Pantano for 19 km and serves 22 stations. Fully automated, and follows an important part of the route of the old railway line linking Rome to Fiuggi.

Metro of Rome webpage in  Italian: Metro of Rome

The Rome tramway is a tram network that serves Rome and part of its metropolitan area. About 10 km long, the 6 tram lines total almost 200 stations Some trains still in use date from 1931. The 6 lines which, curiously, are not numbered from 1 to 6 but take the numbers 2, 3, 5, 8, 14 and 19. Here are the details of the lines: Line n ° 2, from Piazzale Flaminio to Pizza Mancini. Convenient to get to the north of Rome. Line 3, (we tried it) from Piazza Thorvaldsen to Stazione Trastevere. This line is interesting for its Ostiense, Testaccio, Colosseum, San Giovanni, San Lorenzo and Villa Borghese stops. Line 5, from Termini central station to Piazza dei Gerani. Line 8, from Piazza Venezia to Via del Casaletto. and you can go to Trastevere. Line n ° 14, from Termini central station to Viale Palmiro Togliatti. Line 19, from Piazza Risorgimento to Piazza dei Gerani. It is the longest with a course of 14.3 kilometers. Line 19 directly links Pigneto and San Lorenzo to Villa Borghese and the Vatican.


Tramways is part of Rome’s public transport and works on the same principles as buses or the metro. Therefore all at ATAC webpage.

Official transports of Rome ATAC in English: Official transports Rome ATAC

A map from ATAC pdf file for metro, trains, and trams:  Official ATAC map of transports

Mobility webpage in Rome in Italian plenty here if you can translated: Mobilita Roma transports in Rome

So now you have an overall view of the transports in Roma, the idea is to walk but if need to there is plenty. As said , we prefer the bus fun and above ground, but for the tourist curious you can try them all. Rome is worth it. Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 12, 2020

There used to be a mosque at Toledo!

SO again so much written on one of my favorite cities , Toledo in Castilla La Mancha, kingdom of Spain! Ok this is not new , it is really old and as Toledo a masterpiece. I have written plenty of posts on Toledo but just touch briefly on this marvel and its about time I tell you about it.

Let me tell you a bit more on the mosque of Toledo or the Church Cristo de la Luz or a museum today!

The Bab al-Mardum Mosque is an old mosque in the city of Toledo, transformed into the Cristo de la Luz Church, now desacralized and converted into a museum, the Mezquita Cristo de la Luz mosque.  Located near one of the city gates of Puerta de Valmardón , the mosque is one of the most remarkable monuments of Caliphal and Mudejar art in Spain. It first received the name Bab al-Mardum, from the name of the neighboring door, until the reconquest of Toledo by the Christians in 1085 under the command of King Alfonso VI.


A century later, it became the property of the knights of the Order of Saint John, who transformed it in 1187 into a chapel dedicated to the Holy Cross but commonly known as the Cristo de la Luz Church. According to legend, the horse of Cid Campeador is at the origin. When King Alfonso VI made his triumphal entry into Toledo after his reconquest, the Cid horse would have knelt before the mosque, refusing to go further, in an act of devotion to a Christ lit by a lamp (Christo de la Luz means Christ of light in Spanish) but hidden behind a partition for the duration of Arab domination. A small white stone inserted in the pavement marks the location of the prodigy!

An inscription dates the construction to 999. At that time, the district was occupied by notable Moslems living in sumptuous palaces. The mosque was particularly remarkable for the refinement of its architecture and its independent and prominent location. It is linked to a large family of ulemas or scholars, but it is not known if it belonged to them or if they donated it to the city. The mosque may also have served as a school or mausoleum.

The nine spaces in which its interior is divided remain the testimonies of the carving of a Christ called de la Luz, currently in the Museum of Santa Cruz and of a missing image of the Virgin de la Luz (of Light). Its Visigothic capitals supporting horseshoe arches and the 12C Romanesque-Mudejar head are a perfect example of how different cultures have influenced each other in the city.

The Cristo de la Luz monument is a masterpiece of the architectural style that flourished during the Caliphate of Cordoba. During its transformation into a Christian chapel in 1187, an apse was added while respecting the original style. The plan of the mosque is quite original: a square 8 meters long, surmounted by nine small cupolas supported by horseshoe arches resting on four central pillars. The central dome is high and pierced with bays, allowing light to enter the building. The opening onto the street is done by three overhanging arches, and you can notice the presence of a decoration of geometric patterns and Kufic inscriptions made by playing on the arrangement of the bricks. A masterpiece of architecture and loving history.


There are several webpages that tells you more and worth reading and visiting of course , these are

Culture webpage of Castilla La Mancha region on the mosque church museum

Tourism webpage on pre roman art in Toledo on the mosque church museum

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the mezquita Cristo de la Luz

Tourist office of Toledo on the museum mosque church

And you have it all for a wonderful visit to this unique spot in Toledo, the city of cultures and gorgeous architectures of all cultures. A must to visit while in Toledo me think. Hope you enjoy the tour of the Mezquita Church Museum Cristo de la Luz

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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