Advice on itinerary for Amsterdam

Old Apr 14th, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Advice on itinerary for Amsterdam

We are flying in and out of Amsterdam in June (two friends and myself) and we are 40 something females who love to run, eat, enjoy history and going to museums. We will be there for eight nights. We were wondering if we should rent an apartment (found some great ones on VRBO) and have this as our home base all week and do day trips from Amsterdam? We found a race to run in Amsterdam while we are there. We are also considering an overnight to Bruges. Will this be too much time spent in Amsterdam or should we try to do more cities?
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Old Apr 14th, 2015, 01:52 PM
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How about say staying 2-3 days in Bruges and using that as a base too to hop to Gent, Antwerp or Brussels - all interesting cities close to Bruges by train.

That said Amsterdam has a surfeit of neat stuff to do - for lots of interests - and zillions of great day trips - like to the famous windmill group at Zaanse Schans and Haarlem both in a day; The Hague, Rotterdam (one of my favorite Dutch cities - not your dreamy old-world place like Bruges but avant-garde modern architecture and several great museums; Utrecht; Delft and the Delftware Workshops and museum of this very famous porcelain; Marken and Volendam; Alkmmar for the Friday morning cheese market; and on and on.

Be sure to get the national museum card - just a few major museums will make it pay off and you get priority entry at ones with long ticket lines - the Anne Frank House is now included as would be museums in all those day trip towns - like the famous Mauritshuis in The Hague or the Frans Hal Museum in Haarlem). A nice thing about the pass, bought at any participating museum, is that you can easily go into any museum even if you know diddily about it and not think well 'is this worth several euros to get in' - so many neat museums off the radar of most tourists - like the Dutch Resistance Museum; the Amsterdam branch of St Petersburg's Hermitage; the Ship Museum; Botanical Gardens; The Lord in the Attic; The Ruebens House and on and on.

http://www.amsterdam.info/museums/museumkaart/

Personally as a person who just loves Amsterdam and has stayed there for weeks at a time I think 8 days in it may be a bit too much for some - nice to also stay in a smaller let's say more real Dutch town - Amsterdam is very cosmopolitan with tons of foreign visitors and English as the lingua franca it seems in the city center.

I'd even consider staying in say Haarlem which I have often done and commute the 20-minutes into Amsterdam - a much more real Dutch town and one that has lots of things to do too - much more quiet than Amsterdam. Probably get a place much cheaper there too!

Anyway take the train around Holland to all cities you'd want to visit - trains go all the time - to get to Bruges you take a train to Antwerp, change there for direct trains to Bruges - about 3.5 hours all told - you can visit lovely Antwerp for a few hours - put your bags in a station locker and waltz around the nearby town center.

For lots of info on Benelux trains - www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - check the latter's free online European Planning & Rail Guide's chapter on Netherlands and Belgium for lots of suggested day trips from Amsterdam or Bruges. There is a Benelux Railpass if traveling long enough on several days - IME of decades of riding Benelux trains I'd suggest first class as many of these are commuter trains that can in 2nd class always be SRO - not always but many times - first class will be sparsely occupied.

www.ns.nl is the official site of the Dutch Railways - ask at stations about day return (daag retour) tickets - slightly cheaper than two one ways - not sure on current status of those however.

Though a bit old here is a thread I and others have contributed to about lovely Amsterdam!

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ite-things.cfm
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Old Apr 14th, 2015, 01:59 PM
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BTW - The Grasshopper is one of Amsterdam's most famous coffeeshops (don't ask for coffee!).
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 04:12 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=the+...=1600&bih=1075

If you want to see what a coffeeshop looks like or is like but don't care to go in - the famous Grasshopper.
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 04:22 AM
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I am not certain why Pal has decided you want to know about establishments where you can smoke grass and/or bu the stuff. If you DO then often your hotel will gladly tell you about locations, assuming you are staying in a hotel.

I have been to A-dam many times over the past 40 years and like you, love museums, and last year spent one night just so I could go to the finally-reopened Rijksmuseum. BUT, I think 8 nights in the city might be a bit much despite the presence of several major museums, all that running, and so forth.

I also would not spend THREE nights in Bruges when there are so many other places to see and things to do in the area.

Cannot comment on apartment rentals since I rarely do that bit wherever you stay, especially in Amsterdam, I think you'll want to be as close to public transport, e.g., tram lines (perhaps not so much the Metro) as possible.
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 05:25 AM
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Pal, I thought they limit foreigner's access to pot, now?

I've usually stayed in AMS (technically Haarlem) for about 3-4 nights. I like the idea of moving on to Bruges and see parts of Belgium.
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 06:39 AM
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Bitter - TMK they did that in 2012 but it did not fly and was repealed - needing a Dutch ID to get into a coffeeshop but was being reintroduced in 2014 - since I have not been in Amsterdam the past two years I'm not sure what the current situation exactly is.

Hard to believe though that Amsterdam is going to turn its back on drug tourists, not all of whom are poor but includes many wealthy Americans.
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 07:09 AM
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Agreed, Pal. However, I can understand putting pressure on the establishments to be more subtle. I remember some rasta-inspired signs/flags when I was there. Kind of garish/juvenile against the beautiful old buildings/canals.

I remember on my first trip being a bit naive about coffee shops. It took me a few minutes to realize that the place I ventured into sold more than coffee.
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 07:22 AM
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Bookmarking
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 07:36 AM
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Another vote for Haarlem, the railway station is a doll's house mixing Art Deco and steam ship design in wood and tiles, one of my favorite stations. The centre is pretty and all easy to get to from the airport and the city centre.

I looked at appartments to rent about 4 years back and prices looked very good, but B&B good too
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 12:30 PM
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http://www.botbedbreakfast.com/

For a Haarlem B&B I would recommend this one I have stayed at a few times - run by a brother and sister - right near the center of Haarlem - direct buses stop out front to Schiphol Airport - not sure all rooms are en-suite however - can use common kitchen - unlimited breakfast - self-serve.
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Old Apr 15th, 2015, 02:31 PM
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In addition to Brugge, do consider Gent, a much more lively city by night: it's a student town and expect many good bars that serve excellent Belgian beer. Gent is known for its convivial bar scene.

And yes, do consider day trips from Amsterdam. Trains are super easy and a hour by train gets you deep into the Netherlands. You could easily visit Utrecht, Delft, Leiden, The Hague and Rotterdam. But also plan a trip to Enkhuizen or Alkmaar. And 8 days could get you even to Texel if you make it an overnight.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texel
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 10:56 AM
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Thank you for your responses. It just happened that my sign in name is Grasshopper- so no hidden innuendo on my end, although it was ironic. That said, the pictures of this establishment are quite pretty. We have decided to leave Amsterdam and travel to Ghent for a few days. We have found a train from Ghent to Amsterdam, arriving at Schipol Airport at 10:24 a.m. for a 1:00 p.m. flight back to the U.S. Will that give us enough time to go through customs and board the airplane?
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 11:04 AM
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Belgium has had train strikes recently - I would never chance not being in my departure city if I had a non-refundble flight - there is no direct train from Gent to Amsterdam but you'll have to change in Antwerp Central.
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 11:38 AM
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I agree with Pal. That said, if you can still change it, consider flying home from Brussels. Easiest connection I have ever made from the center of the city. (Short train ride to the airport).
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 11:49 AM
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https://www.b-europe.com/Travel/Practical/Alerts

From the Belgian Railways site - strikes are announced usually far in advance - like the one for April 22 - at least check the site if depending on the train that day and other things like accidents can block the tracks and even wildcat strikes.
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