Europe Trip AMSTERDAM

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Amsterdam

General

  • One of the easiest cities to get around. Friendly. Active. Full of energy.
  • Everyone speaks English.
  • Shops and museums open later than the German / Austrian counterparts.
  • Bikes are literally everywhere and traffic is crazy with three lanes to take into account when walking, i.e. the cars, trams and cyclists
  • Pay attention!
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Accommodations

  • Stay within city limits for ease and convenience…and ability to take breaks.
  • Had a good hotel with a great deal—Citiez Hotel Amsterdam—but it was on the outskirts and required a 25 minute tram ride to the downtown / Central Station.
  • Benefits included In-Room Nespresso and a lobby with 24 hour service for food, snacks, sitting, coffee, tea, beer.
  • Breakfast Buffet 10 Euros / person (but remember…in Europe there is no such thing as ‘Free Refills’ on your coffee—just having 2 cups practically makes any buffet worth it.
  • But...closer would have been better.
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Getting Around

  • Get the City Card 72-96 hrs if you can which offers FREE entry to a multitude of top museums and attractions and full access to the tram, metro and buses, which for us was key being 25 minutes out of city centre.

Favorite Attractions

  •  Vondelpark--walking and bike riding--beautiful, quiet retreat.
  •  Rembrandt House Museum--prepare to climb flights of stairs, but totally worth it being in the house where many masterpieces were painted.
  •  Van Gogh Museum--extremely busy. Multi-level museum with art, letters, background, and history related to Van Gogh. Audio guide worth it.
  •  Rijksmuseum--massive and awesome with everything and anything--cafe inside decent for a quick break before hitting the art again.
  •  Anne Frank House—well-done, comprehensive and sobering with a well-deserved focus on some of the true heroes, i.e. those who kept the Frank family supplied with food, company, and support while putting their lives at risk. 
  •  Dutch Resistance Museum—one of my favorite museums. Incredible history lesson that more of us need to hear.  
  •  Neighborhoods--just wander and get lost. The streets are full of little discoveries waiting to happen.

Great Finds

    1. Windmills at Kinderdijk World Heritage Site

  • Take the train to Rotterdam and head down to the waterfront.
  • To the right of SPIRO is the local water-taxi pick-up.
  • Catch the water taxi to Kinderdijk for 4 Euros where you can stroll, or rent a bike, and explore the windmills and canals.
  • Direct routes to Kinderdijk vary on season.
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    2. Locanda (Italian Restaurant)

  • Stumbled upon this tiny restaurant after a long day of wandering and missing lunch. Fortunately, opened their doors at 17:30 pm.
  • Fantastic food, pasta, setting—by 19:00 the place was filling up with reservations.
  • Some of the lightest and delicate pasta I have ever had...totally unexpected.
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    3. Bake My Day

  • First morning in Amsterdam walked by this little bakery with beautiful display of breads, rolls, and pastries.
  • Nice little loft space for taking a break and warming up as well as a free toilet.
  • Cappuccino and Apricot Breakfast Coffee Cake perfect!
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Food

  • Can’t say I got a good sense of Dutch cuisine, but the Jordaan neighborhood had some great restaurant options of which we only got to try one.
  • Most dinner availability for restaurants begin around 18:00, but cross-check everything.
  • Several restaurants did not correlate with apps or Google research and we wasted alot of time walking and finding places that were not open, i.e. Fat Dog ("the best hot dogs around")...simply looked like it was in foreclosure.
  • Food Hallen—interesting, but small. Lots of cool stands to consider, but overall busy and crowded.
  • Dutch Delicacy—located in Spui area allows sampling of all Dutch cheeses (a total tourist trap but worthy because you get lots of samples); and, it includes a tasty little bake shop with both savory, sweet delights and a wine bar in the back of the store.
  • Par Hasard (for the best pommes frites)--disappointed we did not get to try this.
  • Skip Cafe Loetja—a chain. The one we went to was sub-par with the steak swimming in burnt oil (steak perfectly cooked but disgusting in oil).