"Visited Amsterdam for 5 full days and 3 1/2 days." Amsterdam by unaS
Amsterdam Travel Guide: 10,043 reviews and 20,823 photos
Rented a 1-room flat for a very good price indeed in the Leidseplein/Prisengracht area. Only found two places at that price, this flat and a budget hotel in the center of the city. The flat was marvelous, very convenient location, clean, quiet and private. First time I've done this – like it very much! See tips for details.
Upon arrival in Amsterdam went first of all to the Tourist Information Office, the VVV. I bought a ticket to the Anne Frank house for that evening, a phone card, and a 45 trip travel card (strippenkaart). Hardly used the last two. Mostly the public phones didn't work and I did a lot of walking, rather than riding the trams, buses or metro.
Amsterdam is mostly made up of tiny streets with narrow houses, seemingly millions of bicycles and of course, the canals. By and large the canals are not protected – no rails or sidings of any kind – and people park their cars there ! I wonder how many fall into the canal in any given year ?!?
Smoking was rarely a problem despite the new laws. I lucked out with the weather and was able to eat at outdoor tables. Even when it was too chilly in the evenings I could always find a place with smoking permitted sections. I have been told that this is being phased out and that by 2008 there will be stricter laws. Glad I went this year!
The coffee in the Netherlands and in Belgium is very, very strong! I am a big coffee drinker, but it took a couple of days for me to learn to order "Café latte with less milk, stronger, please", or "Cappucino with hot milk, not cream".
Places like museums, restaurants that sell breakfast and so on start late. I usually slept in, had my morning coffee in the flat (good supermarket near by) and left about 9 am to begin my day. Almost never got back to the flat before 5 or 6 in the evening (everything there closes by that time) for a rest before going out for dinner. Funnily enough they eat dinner early, so it was necessary to find a place to eat before 8.00 pm.
First day decided to go to Leiden, Keukenhof and Harlaam after a hearty breakfast (made a piggy out of myself). Ooops – took the tram in the wrong direction. To return I was directed to take metro #5 instead of the tram #5 that I had arrived on. They stop at the same place – that is the tram becomes part metro using the same tracks! It didn't come. Returned to the other side of the platform for the tram. Waited and waited. Directed with a large number of other people to go back and forth to the opposite platform two times! The employees there couldn't seem to decide which was going to come first, the metro or the tram. You can imagine how crowded it was when after 55 minutes the tram finally arrived. Lots of strollers, people with luggage, standees and so on.
Finally arrived at Centraal station at 1300. Decided it was too late for Leiden and Keukenhof. Also discovered meanwhile that the Ten Boom house in Harlaam only opens on 1 April. The weather was perfect so I took the 1 1/2 hour canal boat ride.
Later returned to the VVV (Tourist Info office) to discover why my telephone card wasn't working. Idiot! I was dialing with the area code!
Managed to phone "Mee in Mokum", the walking tour group (from the word makom, 'place' in Hebrew, because of the 15th Century Portugese immigrants!). This is a group of senior citizens that really love their city and to share it with visitors. See tips for details.
Started to follow the crowds in the direction of Dam Square, but was ready to eat. Found a lovely little café and had a nice lunch including something called "gamba" salad – turned out to be a kind of shrimp – yummy!! A bit expensive, but the window seat is amazing. One sees all kinds of people walking down towards Dam Square. Almost everyone is munching on something while walking. (Still remember my culture shock in Japan, where eating while walking is a no-no.) Hair colours and styles to put a flock of parrots to shame, clothing that looked to me like they were on their way to a costume party. :)
Saw an interesting narrow, small electric wheel chair that allowed the user total independence. Victoria Hotel lunch room on the Damrak.
Spent the rest of the afternoon in the Rijksmuseum. Marvelous! Really glad that there was only the one wing open (due to renovations), else I might have been lost forever. Bought the Museumjaarcart – free entry to most museums in the Netherlands and good for a year, well worth the price. Visit 3 museums and you have paid for the card.
Retuning to my flat saw some great street performances in Leidseplein.
The canals at sunset are beautiful indeed.
Back at the flat that evening I accidentally deleted all of the first two days photos from my new digital camera – ooofff!
Next day went on the walking tour with Mee in Mokum of the inner city and the Jaarden district. The Red Light district is amazing even in the afternoon! Saw the Oudkerk (Old church), also known as "Our Lord in the Attic". It was a secret Catholic church during the religious disturbances in the Netherlands. Really enjoyed that walk, later visited the Amsterdam Historical museum and the Resistance museum. It seems that the Dutch resistance was a bit late to start up…
Had a great veggie Pancake at the Illy Café in Beurspassage on the Damrak, the big street that leads from the Centraal station to the Dam.
After 3 beautiful days Thursday was cold and damp. Visited the Van Gogh museum, walked the length of the Herrengracht, visited the Jewish Historical Museum near Waterlooplein and the Portuguese synagogue. The Rembrandtplein, despite the name, is not an attractive neighbourhood sorry to say. Cold enough that evening that the landlord put on the heat in the flat for a couple of hours. Bought frozen macaroni and cheese and a ready made salad at the near-by supermarket for supper.
Friday I was feeling 'over-museumed' so I decided to take off for Keukenhof but the threatening weather – 11C with a 30% chance of rain according to the internet – made me decide to wait a bit. At noon still too cold and misty for Keukenhof, thought that I would go to Delft instead. From the train beautiful views of the countryside, horses, geese, cows, sheep, tulip fields, small houses.
Delft still remembers the days when the Roman Catholic church ruled. All of the crosses have been removed from the church steeples, and cocks have replaced them. Clocks have been installed in the towers, which I was told means that they are now Protestant churches. Ate in a small underground lunch room of a former nunnery. The ceiling is about 1.65 – 1.70 meters high only. The food was not very good. See tips for details.
Enjoyed walking around Delft. The tourist info office there provided a map. Saw sculptures over doorways, like a cow's head, in a former butcher's shop near the Voldergracht canal. Nice little foot bridges, some pretty old. Took the tram to Den Haag rather than the train as suggested by someone on one of the travel forums. Was able to use the strippenkart for it too. Nice deal, but the promised "better views" didn't appear. From Den Haag took the train back to Amsterdam.
Saturdy morning went back to the "Hoopman Irish Pub" in Leidseplein for breakfast again. See tips for details.Took another canal boat ride – not as good. (Tips) Got off a bit early at the wharf for the Rembrandt house.
Discovered the Jewish Memorial to the underground fighters of WWII and the flea markert. Bought a great sweatshirt there. Spent a couple of hours in the Rembranthuis and then walked up Prinsengracht and down Kaisergracht strolling slowly and looking at the older houses. Some very worn stairs that attest to their age, old doorways with original narrow entrances and fascinating roof tops. Step gables, bell topped, flat, you name it, they have it! Went to the local laundromat, did some souvenir and presents shopping, spent an hour on the internet and bought my train ticket for Brugge tomorrow.
Will continue with Belgium in a separate report.
I did finally make it to Keukenhof on my last day. Took the train to Schipol from Brussels, put my wheelie through early check-in and took the #58 bus direct to Keukenhof from the airport (1/2 hour ride). Four lovely hours walking round there – and eating in one of the cafeterias – before I had to get the bus back to the airport for my flight.
- Pros:Just about everything!
- Cons:All the museums close too early!
- In a nutshell:A lovely city to visit.
If you enjoy walking tours led by people that really love this city Mee in Mokum is for you. It is a group of senior... more travel advice
unaS's Related Pages
Amsterdam Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "MY BIRTHPLACE"
- "Amsterdam - I love it!"
- "God made the Dutch, but the Dutch made Holland"
- "Amsterdam, is it real?"
- "Amsterdam, where the Dutch money is spend"
- "Amsterdam! The most liberal city in the World"
- "dila's new Amsterdam Page"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Amsterdam
- Hotels in Amsterdam
- Transportation in Amsterdam
- Nightlife in Amsterdam
- Restaurants in Amsterdam
- Shopping in Amsterdam
- Warnings and Dangers in Amsterdam
- See All...
Explore the World
- Mersing Hotels
- Kakrail Hotels
- Hacienda Monteverde Hotels
- Gokarna Hotels
- Ban Rangsit Hotels
- Paradise Valley
- Kirchdorf in Tirol
- Edgworth Hotels
- FYR of Macedonia
- Nakhon Si Thammarat
- Uluru National Park (Ayers Rock)
Badges & Stats in Amsterdam
- 3 Reviews
- 6 Photos
- 142 Forum posts
- 6 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (37)
Have you been to Amsterdam?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Amsterdam
- Posted in Travel Forum "Re: A call for suggestions from..."
- Commented on one of leics's Amsterdam travel pages
- Uploaded a Photo to "An Affordable Mini flat"
- updated a Amsterdam Travel Page "Visited Amsterdam for 5 full days and 3 1/2 days."
- Wrote a Review Public Telephones about TOURIST INFORMATION in Amsterdam Favorites
Photos in AmsterdamSee All Photos (6)
Top 10 Pages
- Jerusalem Intro, 18 reviews, 88 photos, 6 travelogues
- New Zealand Intro, 22 reviews, 77 photos, 1 travelogue
- Australia Intro, 23 reviews, 57 photos
- Sevilla Intro, 18 reviews, 46 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination Plovdiv Intro, 15 reviews, 39 photos
- Barcelona Intro, 10 reviews, 37 photos
- Granada Intro, 12 reviews, 33 photos
- Madrid Intro, 14 reviews, 30 photos, 1 travelogue
- Sofia Intro, 14 reviews, 29 photos
- Jerez de la Frontera Intro, 12 reviews, 30 photos
FriendsSee All Friends (56)
Latest Amsterdam hotel reviews
- Hotel Wilhelmina Amsterdam
- 79 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 24, 2013
- DownTown Hotel
- 61 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 15, 2013
- Tulipa B&B
- 84 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 21, 2013
- Hotel Seven One Seven Amsterdam
- 155 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 7, 2013
- Hotel Acca/Van Gogh Amsterdam
- 39 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 6, 2011
- Old Nickel
- 82 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 9, 2013
- De Lastage Apartments
- 94 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 20, 2013
- Hotel La Boheme Amsterdam
- 334 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 19, 2013
- Hotel The Crown
- 92 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 16, 2013
- Brian Hotel
- 85 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 15, 2013
- Keizersgracht Apartments
- 4 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 12, 2012
- Hampshire Inn - Prinsengracht
- 100 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 21, 2013
- Paganini Hotel Amsterdam
- 58 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 7, 2013
- Hotel Monopole & Apartments
- 50 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: May 6, 2013