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Trip Report Amsterdam; Bikes, Boots and a few Blunders

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October may not be the best time for a 1st visit to Amsterdam but not even the cool, rainy weather could dull the beauty of this city for my husband Ron and me.

Many thanks to all who answered my questions in preparation for this trip, especially the very helpful Hetismij. It was a pleasure to meet her at a GTG along with Artstuff (Robyn), her husband BJ and their friend, Roger.

Our USAir flight from PHL was on a weary looking 757, every seat in economy class was occupied and the use of my recently purchased inflatible "First Class Sleeper, my Bed in the Clouds" did not live up to my expectations!! Upon our arrival at the Schiphol airport I purchased the Amsterdam map and strippenkaarts for the tram system at the Amsterdam Tourist Information Center. Taking the train from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam center was easy, especially on a Sunday morning.


ACCOMMODATIONS

Our stay in Amsterdam was at the beginning and the end of a trip that included two weeks in France and Belgium. On the front end we rented an apartment for 5 nights that was located on Molsteeg, just off Dam Square. Kevin is the owner of the apartment that I found through Avvie Bed & Breakfast referral, which includes apartments, hotels as well as B&B's. The two room apartment called Dam Square was very easy on our budget at 85 euros a night and sleeps 3 people. The large bed completely fills the bedroom but it was very comfortable, quiet at night and my husband Ron loved the walk in rain style shower located off the main room. Inquires about this apartment can be sent to Kevin at omerikas@hotmail.com

I used a Priceline hotel for our return to Amsterdam. My bid of $85 a night had us staying at the Nh Amsterdam Centre for 2 nights. We were given a very nice room on the top floor (6th) so all my concerns about receiving poor service as a Priceline customer didn't happen.

I would describe myself as a Times Square, 5th Arrondissement kind of traveler so although the Nh hotel was nicer, I preferred the location of the Dam Square apartment.


DINING

Having an apartment allowed us to save money by eating in for breakfast and because of the rainy weather often in the evening as well. There was something very comfy about being warm and dry while we could watch people below our windows sloshing through the puddles.

There was a large Albert Heijn near the apartment where we purchased our breakfast foods as well as baguettes, pate, cheese, salads, wine and beer. Foods any well stocked apartment should have!! Unlike grocery stores in France and the US, the Albert Heijn stores do not accept credit cards.

Ron and I like to find small places that serve typical foods of the country we are visiting. We had delicious pannenkoekens at the Eetcafe Next Door, Nieuwzijds Voorburgwal 119 and De Oude Wester on the corner of Rozengracht and Prinsengracht.. Our lunches with pannenkoekens with coffee at the Wester was 20.50 euros and with beer at the Eetcafe was 22 euros.

At the Dutch restaruant De Prins on Prinsengracht 124 we each had one of the daily specials, veltliner karaf, pilsner and one decaf coffee. Dinner at this brown-style canal house was a very reasonable 46 euros.

Thanks to information gathered on this forum I knew I wanted to have a meal of the Indonesian Rijsttafel. The thought of eating 25 to 30 small dishes at one meal seemed like more food than I could ever consume. Armed with a list of several places from my research I outsmarted myself and chose not the highly regarded Tempo Doeloe but the smaller Indonesian restaurant next door, Tuijuh Maret. Ron and I chose one of their nasi rames, fearing being overwhelmed by the full rijsttafel. Our meal did not impress us at all, there were only a few tables with diners while we were there but I thought that might be because it was a rainy Wednesday evening. I kept that thought until we went out of the restaurant and saw that the tables at Tempo Doeloe next door were packed with more people waiting. Our meal at Tuijuh Maret cost us $83, per our credit card.

On our return to Amsterdam, on yet another rainy evening, we decided to stay close to our hotel and made a better choice for another try at Indonesian food. This time we had a 15 dish rijsttafel at the Srikandi Restaurant on the same street as our hotel. Our meal was delicious and at the cost of about $90 for the two of us, a much better value.

The GTG with Hetismij, Robyn, BJ and Roger was a real treat for us. The beer and food were equally good but the conversation was even better. I know Robyn and I were both looking forward to thanking Hetismij in person for all the information she provides to those of us planning our visit to the Netherlands. Ron and I walked to the train station with her and she helped us purchase our train tickets to Haarlem. The ticket kiosks accepted only European credit cards, not even coins.

BIKES

I had read about biking in Amsterdam, I knew that there would be more bikes than cars but to see Amsterdam in all it's biking glory for the first time is incredible. I fell in love with the bikes in all their varieties. Shiny bikes and beaten up bikes, bikes with trailers behind and bikes with carts in front, bikes that looked like real status symbols and bikes that looked like they had no idea what status was!!!! I loved the bikes but I thought the people on them were rather mean---they kept me from taking what would have been really great pictures because I always seemed to be standing where they wanted to be riding. I hope to visit Amsterdam again and rent a bike for a day. I want to experience what it feels like to be one of them instead of one of ME!!!

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