Tuesday, October 18, 2016



We were looking for a place to travel to this fall for a good price when we saw an airfare to Amsterdam for less than 6 cents a mile. So we booked a long weekend for mid October. We left on Saturday evening on a direct flight that got us into Amsterdam a little after 9 am. The plane was a 767 that has crappy overhead storage, tiny seat back video screens, and no power outlets except in premium cabins. It's only saving grace is that the seats are 2-3-2 so we could sit together comfortably without sharing the row.

Amsterdam airport is huge and it's a long walk from the gate to customs and immigration. We finally made it to the arrivals hall and purchased a 2 day Amsterdam transportation pass that covered train fare to Amsterdam Centraal station and city trams and busses. We rode the train to the city station, then walked about 10-15 minutes to our hotel, arriving at 11 am. Our room wasn't ready for check-in so we hung out in the hotel club lounge until we could get in our room. It took a few hours and we finally got our room a little after 2 pm.

We were feeling jetlagged and decided to take time for a short nap. In the meantime we made reservations for a 6 pm canal cruise with Those Dam Boat Guys. Around 4 pm we started out for a casual walk around Amsterdam city center meandering the streets between the canals and window shopping. At 6 we met up with the representative for our boat tour and were guided with the rest of the customers to the tour vessel.

Most of the canal cruises are on large glass topped boats with 50 passengers or more. "Those Dam Boat Guys" offers an intimate cruise on an open boat with a maximum of 10 passengers. You are invited to bring wine and snacks on board and to introduce yourself to your fellow passengers. Blankets are available to fend off the night chill. The guide is friendly and knowledgeable, although his frank use of language could raise an eyebrow. We totally enjoyed our tour which even extended beyond the chartered 90 minutes.

After our canal cruise we walked back to our hotel hoping to have dinner but the hotel restaurant was closed. There are a lot of restaurants in the area so we walked around and finally settled on a small place called London Bridge Pub where we sat outside under heat lamps and enjoyed some wine and dinner.


We got up in time for breakfast in the hotel lounge which consisted of croissants, scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage plus the usual European spread of deli meats and cheeses. After breakfast we relaxed in the room for a while then headed out for some sightseeing. We hopped on the tram near the hotel with our transporation cards and rode to the Museumplein. The Museumplein is a large grassy open space bordered by 3 museums and a concert hall. We took some pictures of the Rijksmuseum and the I Amsterdam sign. Then we bought tickets to the Van Gogh museum and toured inside. 

After we left the museum we walked to Vondel Park and strolled around for while enjoying the pleasant weather we were gifted with. When we left the park we boarded the tram again and rode back to the hotel neighborhood. We went looking for a shop we had seen the day before that sold souvenir figurines. We found the shop and bought a cat figurine to bring home. We were hungry so we stopped at the Van Zuylen cafe near one of the canals and had wine and cheese. Finally we made our way back to the hotel in time for the evening snacks and drinks in the club lounge.


We set our alarms for an early wake up in order to allow plenty of time to get to the hotel for our 11 am flight home. We walked the 0.4 miles to the train station. We bought return tickets to the airport and caught the next train at 7:25. There was a slight delay on the return trip caused by a breakdown of another train, but I think we made it to the airport by a little after 8. We checked in for our flight and cleared security, then went to the airport lounge to wait until boarding time. We didn't stay at the lounge long since it was such a long walk to the gate and we also wanted to find some bottled water to take on the plane. The flight home was bumpy a few times but otherwise we were comfortable and able to catch some sleep as well.

We found Amsterdam to be a pleasant charming city. The tall narrow buildings have a lot of character with many of them tilted from years of subsidence so that they look like they're tipsy. I believe we will be happy to return if the opportunity arises.

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