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Trip Report Amsterdam – a scouting report

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We had reserved the Paris apartment through Monday, October 25th and, after committing to that, learned that we needed to be in Philly on the 30th for my younger sister’s surprise birthday party. Hmmmm, what do do? Spend the 25-31 in South Jersey or Europe? I picked Europe and made plans to take a train to Amsterdam for a few days, flying to Philly on the 28th.

Sunday, Oct. 24th:
We went to Gare de Nord to get our train tickets for the next day. We waited because we were tracking the fuel problem in France—fewer trains were running—and we wanted to keep our options open to take the Eurostar to London instead if we needed to do so. Due to the reduced schedule, we had to take the 7:25 a.m. train and purchased our second-class tickets.

Monday, Oct. 25th
I was so afraid of missing the alarm in the morning that I stayed awake all night and got up at 5:30. The taxi arrived at 6:00 and we were at Nord by 6:15. Once inside, I checked my purse for tickets and passports and FOUND NEITHER!!! Gene’s passport was in there, but that’s all. This was the first time I had ever left the house without checking for these items and, damn, I should have. We dumped my suitcase, my big red quilted bag and my purse—TWICE and no luck. Out we go to the taxi queue and return to our apartment. Of course, we had left the keys in the apartment so we couldn’t get in, but we had also tossed the trash in the bin in the courtyard and I thought perhaps they were in with stuff I had piled up, ripped up (like plane tickets for the voyage over) and put in the bag with the coffee grounds, orange peels and other gunk.

The taxi waited while we went through to the courtyard and sifted through our trash. NOTHING!

Back in the cab I asked the driver to take us to the Embassy. We knew it was way too early to be open, but had no place to go. About two blocks away we remembered that maybe my passport was still in my money belt (which I hadn’t worn since arriving in Paris, since DH wore his). DH had tossed the money belt into HIS suitcase and that’s the one we hadn’t rifled that morning at the station. Stopped the cab, he went into the trunk, found the tickets just sitting on top of his stuff and tossed them over the seat to me. Nothing in my money belt. The minute he did that I realized my passport was in a zippered pocket on the OUTSIDE of the big quilted bag. I jumped out, ran to the back, opened the pocket and pulled it out. We now asked the driver to take us back to Nord. The three trips in the cab for tickets and passport that were on us the whole time cost around 73e. Expensive lesson!

Now it’s closer to 8:00 so we’ve missed the 7:25 train. The counter gal was nice enough to exchange our tickets for the 8:25 a.m. without penalty, but we had to take first class at an additional cost of 199euros. Oh, well, we’d get breakfast…

Not so fast! Once on board they announced that, due to the strike, there would be no breakfast service. NO COFFEE EITHER!!!

Other than that, it was a nice 3-hour trip. On arrival we walked to the Hotel Brouwer on the Singhal canal and checked in. Our room was ready, which was a nice bonus. The hotel was recommended by several on Fodors and it was a good choice. Only 95e, including a nice breakfast. The building dates to 1652 and it was loaded with character. Our room overlooked a nice canal and was very centrally located. We walked everywhere.

Highlights:
I was coming down with a sinus infection so we didn’t accomplish much, but we really, really liked Amsterdam! We took a structured walk from my Frommer’s Guide through the old center, ending with a good Italian dinner at the Majestic on the Damstraat.

The Red Light District…wow! It was both weird and oddly compelling. Strange to think this really goes on.

People everywhere were SO SO nice!

Anne Frank Haus: I found myself most intrigued by the view across the canal, thinking about what she saw during those 25 months.

Great dinner one night at Top Thai.

I really feel that Amsterdam by night rivals Paris for beautiful illumination. Yellow streetlights balanced by rows of lit bulbs on the bridges and tunnels of the canals were soft and dreamlike.

Bicycles—just as everyone says, they are everywhere and I was almost run over on at least 6 occasions! Seriously! These ordinarily nice people ride their bikes without changing expression, slowing down or ringing their bell as they come right at you! LOL!!

Oct. 28th
Taxi right on time (noon), plane left on time and we were off. We’ll be back!

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