I have just returned from a trip to Kenya and Amsterdam, and thought this blog should focus on some of that trip- in particular Amsterdam……..a city I have always wanted to visit after reading as a child about skating on the canals. (That seldom happens any more as it does not get cold enough). A a pre-teen I read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and then later on in university studied the Dutch Masters……so many things of interest there to see, I thought! And so- a bit about why you should visit Amsterdam.
Because my original trip was Kenya, I do like to plan a stopover of at least one way on long flights if possible, and Amsterdam was the perfect way to do that as KLM has free stopovers both ways……..in other words, you pay for the flight as if it is a connecting flight with no extra charges for the stopovers from the airlines.
The First Stopover
I had company the first stopover, and we had an entire day to explore. (More about that later!) The first entire day, however, I was on my own…….and had planned two things- visiting The Anne Frank House, and the Rijksmuseum. I was so glad I had booked tickets ahead of time for The Anne Frank House, as it is almost impossible to get in without them……read that as impossible! As well I had booked them about a month ahead of time, but I would suggest if you are going in high season, that you book as soon as they are available (two months ahead of time.) The museum was less busy, but I chose to have a tour, and it was full- again if this is a way you like to be introduced to museums, I recommend booking a tour in advance!
Amsterdam is a very walkable city- to start with my travelling companion and I stayed in a hotel in a great location from which we could walk everywhere- Hotel La Boheme . Both restaurants at which we ate were less than a block away (food was delicious), the hotel itself was comfy and cosy (no elevator with narrow stairs for those who are interested- we were on the third floor), and the Airport Express bus stop was just over a block away…….perfect!
On Day Two, my travelling companions and I embarked on a full day tour with Urban Adventures -specifically, the Total Amsterdam Tour: Bikes, Food & Beer. Sean, our guide, although from the US, had lived in Amsterdam many years. More than that, he had a great deal of knowledge of the history and customs of the Dutch, which he imparted to us throughout the day. The full day tour is actually a combo of 3 tours, so one could also simply choose one or two of the tours, if one didn’t have time for a full day of exploration.
To begin with, we met at a bike shop near the Dam, to get our bikes for the biking part of the tour- there were 4 of us in that part of the day tour…… From here, we headed to Central Station by the less busy streets as we became used to the bikes and the bike traffic……and then crossed on the ferry to the north of Amsterdam- a much less crowded and very scenic area of the city……our ride consisted of stops along the way for pictures of birds, a petting zoo (comfort stop), windmills, etc. Very relaxed and an easy pace.
Our next tour was a walking food tour- for that there was just the 3 of us, and we walked through the winding narrow streets sampling the following- all free with the tour payment:
- fries with various toppings – Vleminckx Sausmeester, in business from 1957
- cookies (with lattes to revive our flagging spirits)
- Dutch pancakes
- one other food which has momentarily escaped my memory!
Finally to the beer tour, where we sampled a craft beer pub, a pub that brewed its own beers (3- a dark, a red, and a pale) along with peanuts for snacking, before heading to a distillery for samples of flavoured genever……..here we had to bow out, as we had dinner reservations (yes we then went and ate at a restaurant!!!) but if we had not had those dinner reservations, we would have gone to one more beer tasting at a pub. This being one of the most popular tours, there were about 8 of us from various countries…..
So in a nutshell, this was my first stopover in Amsterdam. Highly recommend, and please- feel free to contact me for more information…….