Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I am Amsterdam

Come fly with me---

One of the best things that you will experience when flying standby, is hearing the on-board announcement, ‘flight attendants prepare doors for departure!’ Once the cabin door securely shuts and the seat belt is fastened ‘low and tight around your hips…’ You’ll know you’re going…

With the hotel paid and all your reservations confirmed, you will feel secure in the fact that you’ve made your flight. Any anxiety of a tardy passenger bumping you from the last remaining seat, causing you to miss your departure… swiftly melts away! Trust me, you’ll be able to unwind and enjoy the ride.

When the jumbo jet pushes back from the gate and the turbo-engines begin to rev… There is no stopping you now… Oh yea, you’re going…

And this month it is to Amsterdam!

Upon Arrival

I really wouldn’t recommend an airport shuttle into Amsterdam Central unless of course you have considerable baggage, and don’t mind getting stuck in traffic. Besides, as I am sure all of you are familiar, full airport shuttles drop each visitor off at separate hotel’s strewn about the city… So you truly won’t really know whether you are going to be the first or last to arrive at your hotel, wasting valuable hours in the process.

Trains are much timelier, more efficient and conveniently located within Schiphol International Airport. The short commuter trek only lasts fifteen minutes to Amsterdam’s hotel district, and costs just €3.60 for a one way trip.

Travel Tip #31-- It’s not wise to convert your US Dollars into Euros at the Amsterdam airport… The exchange rate is unreasonable as well as preposterous!
Oh, the Sights You will See
Indubitably, one of Amsterdam’s most well- known and famous icons is, and will always remain to be, Anne Frank… It goes without saying that no trip to the Netherlands would be complete without visiting the rooms of the Secret Annex, which have meticulously been maintained.

In Amsterdam, if touring the Anne Frank House is the first thing on your ‘to do’ list, you will definitely want to arrive earlier in the day. More than likely, there will be a time-consuming line to get into the museum.
Before you arrive, grab a hearty breakfast. For a delectable and affordable meal, be certain to try a traditional Dutch pancake! The ‘Pannekoeken,’ are more akin to French crepes than the buttermilk pancakes we are accustomed to here in the United States. If you are in an adventuresome frame of mind, top yours with apple and Grand Marnier!

Only a block away from the Anne Frank house is The Pancake Bakery, proclaiming itself as, ‘a world-known pancake restaurant loved by all.’ Accompany your morning delicacy with a European cappuccino. Together they will put a spring in your step, and tide you over for the wait to get in the Anne Frank experience.

Flowering Tulip Fields

Another ‘do not miss’ this time of year in Amsterdam, is a tour of The Keukenhof Gardens and Tulip Fields. This excursion takes you on an unforgettable, picturesque drive through the Dutch countryside. Once you’ve arrived at the gardens, the tulip spectacular awaits. Billed as one of the most photographed locations in the world, the tour costs €49.00, and is seasonal with flowering lasting only eight weeks! Peak blossoming season is from March 24th to May 20, 2011.

Travel Tip #32-- Power Converters in Europe are a must! Get to Radio Shack before you leave… Everything is more expensive in Europe, and this goes for power converters as well. You will need a separate converter for your computer as well as one for your cell phone or video/ camera…
Hop On, Hop Off… Canal Cruise

To save a little wear and tear on the feet try a Canal Bus!
The boat cruise is an enjoyable and peaceful way of getting to all of Amsterdam’s top historical or notable sights. You’ll pass many noteworthy attractions and be dropped off at all major museums. A two day pass runs only €33.00, with the option of getting on and off at your leisure!

Van Gogh Museum –

The world’s largest collection of Vincent van Gogh paintings are housed and stored in this famous ‘Seventy’s style’ museum. Currently ‘Picasso in Paris, 1900-1907’ is on exhibition running daily, February 18th through May 29, 2011. If travelling by public rail from the Amsterdam Central Station, take tram 2 or 5 to the Van Baerlestraat stop.

Rijksmuseum –

Often compared to the Musee du Louvre in Paris, the giant Rijksmuseum is the considered to be Amsterdam’s finest museum… Unfortunately due to long lasting hold-ups in renovation, displays are limited. So I encourage you to do your homework on this museum. Once there however, don’t forget to visit one of the two gift shops!

The iconic ‘I amsterdam’ letters in front of the Rijksmuseum, are a photo opportunity waiting to happen!

Also please note: the facilities do not have an eatery, however, many of the surrounding bistros may offer a fifteen percent concession.

When it comes to the value, the US dollar is still not standing up well against the Euro… So don’t be timid, ask for a discount and who knows, you may receive… Hey, every little bit begins to add up.


In my opinion, nothing tops the fashion and museum district for great shopping. Designer brands, fine dining, cultural entertainment and so much more…

It goes without saying, however that there is extensive browsing to be found in vibrant Dam Square.

What's more, be sure to stop and sample the street markets or take in a local art show! Who knows you may just discover the next Vincent van Gogh or stumble onto a beautiful and valuable piece of artwork.

The Waterlooplein Market located right in the middle of the city center is less traditional and more avant garde in its offerings. Nonetheless it is an enjoyable and laid-back shopping experience.

Europe is go, go, go…

Traveling in Europe tends to be all about go… Go, go, go… More than likely you will find yourself frantically scurrying from this landmark to that landmark!

Considering you have limited time and a full schedule of ‘must sees,’ it is only natural to want to experience all Amsterdam has to offer… Nevertheless, as you can tell from this column, I personally am not always so interested in that hectic pace, and doing the ‘tourist thing.’

I often enjoy hanging back, eating the bread of idleness and sipping from a glass of nice red wine at an open-air bistro... I cherish simply taking in the sights and sounds of Amsterdam as well as observing the locals in their own element… At some point, I would encourage you to do the same… and just disengage.

After all it’s just another Amsterdam vacation.

No comments:

Post a Comment