Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Amsterdam / Alkmaar / Utrecht - a quick week (

Travelnut Aug 16th, 2007 02:25 PM

Amsterdam / Alkmaar / Utrecht - a quick week
I just cobbled together a quick (one week) trip for next April as a little surprise for the old geezer, I mean, my husband. We're used to traveling a bit faster than many here prefer, and we've been to a few places in the Netherlands so it isn't a first time trip. Just looking for 'filler' comments or a heads-up on any obvious mistakes you might see...

April 28 (2008) - Overnight flight to Amsterdam

April 29 - Arrive Amsterdam (I'll fill this day in later, very familiar with AMS)

April 30 - Queen's Day. I've been hesitant but it seems like one of those things you've gotta do! (I don't look good in orange, will I get pinched if I'm not wearing any?)

May 1* - Train to Alkmaar (about 40 minutes), check into hotel (BW Hotel Alkmaar?), take a short taxi ride to Golfbaan Sluispolder for 18 holes

May 2 - In Alkmaar - it's Friday, so get up and go watch the Cheese Market event. Then further exploration of the town (more research needed here)

May 3 - Train to Utrecht (just over an hour), check into hotel (NH Centre?), explore Utrecht: old town/canal area, the Dom, Museum Speelklok...

May 4 - In Utrecht, quick taxi to Golfbaan Amelisweerd for 18 holes... then just relax around the pleasant old center...

May 5 - Train to Schiphol (33 minutes, no changes, 2 trains/hour) for flight home

* May 1 is a national holiday, so (a) will there be any difficulties with trains? and (b) will the golf course be open? and if not, (c) will anything fun in Alkmaar be open if we switch the days?

Thanks for your spirited and helpful comments. . . !

hopscotch Aug 16th, 2007 03:40 PM

Do you have hotel reservations for Queen's Day yet? If not stir the pot.

I would be bored in Alkmaar. Actually I have been. I would stay in Haarlem and train up to Alkmaar for the cheese thing, then return to Haarlem for Friday night action around the Grote Markt.

wanderfrau Aug 16th, 2007 04:21 PM

Agree with hopscotch. The cheese market is worth seeing, but I did not find the town interesting. You may want to consider Leiden.

lesliec1 Aug 16th, 2007 05:06 PM

I vote for Haarlem and Leiden, also. Much to do and not so touristy. But perhaps you are planning Alkmaar especially for the golf. Since I know nothing about golf, I have no recommendations in that regard.

Travelnut Aug 16th, 2007 05:54 PM

Yep, I'm looking for towns of which I've 'heard' something that, coincidentally, have a golf course within a 4-5km drive. I'd rather not rent a car.
I'm still flexible - it sounds like Utrecht is good for a couple of days. We have visited Haarlem, Delft and Enkhuizen, but not stayed overnight. I figured it wouldn't be very pleasant at any of the beach/golf resorts in April (too cool? windy?)... I could add a 3rd day to Amsterdam and golf there, then move on to Utrecht. I've read that Maastrict is picturesque - I didn't check the train route for Ams-Maastricht.

I've already reserved a couple of nights in Amsterdam, as I know any major event swallows up all the decent hotels.

Travelnut Aug 16th, 2007 06:47 PM

There are a couple of golf courses outside Leiden. So... why is Leiden more interesting than Alkmaar? I know it's a 'university' town, and by the tulip fields. Is it more picturesque? How is the canal tour? I like that it is a 20-min train from Schiphol.

Is the train station walkable to the 'old centre'..?

hetismij Aug 16th, 2007 11:19 PM

May 1st is Ascension day - so bear that in mind in your planning, trains will be running but probably at a reduced frequency (Sunday service). I don't know if golf courses will be open, I imagine so. Alkmaar will proabaly be pretty quiet otherwise. Some towns, like the one where I live, have special markets on Ascension Day, but mostly it is a very quiet day, especiallly next year being the day after Koninginnedag. Amsterdam will be pretty full on the 29th already so book your hotels well in advance.
You can see lots of bulbfileds on the train to Alkmaar, it is in a major bulb growing area.
Also are you sure you will be able to play at your chosen golf courses? I know very little about golf but do know it is hard to find courses to play on in Holland if you are not a member, do not have proof of ability etc.
As for wearing Orange - you can get a hat or a boa or something to wear, just to join in surely?

travel_buzzing Aug 17th, 2007 12:16 AM

i second the opinion- you need to get accommodation sorted out WELL in advance for queens day

hetismij Aug 17th, 2007 12:25 AM

I just had a look at both golf courses online. Greenfee players are allowed, if you have a GVB (a Dutch golf qualification). There is no mention of what they do for foreigenrs. I would e-mail them, if you haven't already, and check what, if anything, they need from you as proof that you can play golf.
You need to book in advance also. For a more challenging golf course consider the Hilversumsche golfbaan instead of Amelisweerd - it is considered the best in the Netherlands.
I would stick with Alkmaar rather than Leiden myself. You can get to the coast easlily if it is nice weather, after the cheese market. Look into staying on the coast and just going into Alkmaar for the day.

Travelnut Aug 17th, 2007 05:19 AM

I always contact the golf courses in advance, to make sure a visitor can play, there isn't a tournament that day, etc. He carries a handicap card and is well under the requirements. Our experience so far is that the European courses will honor a handicap card / membership in a US club.

I've modified the plan, added a day, and kept Alkmaar but only one night.
April 27 (Sun) - Overnight flight to Amsterdam

April 28 (Mon) - Arrive Amsterdam (I'll fill this day in later, very familiar with AMS)

April 29 (Tues) - Golf at de Hoge Dijk or Golfbaan Amsterdam; sights-Amsterdam

April 30 (Wed) - Queen's Day. I've been hesitant but it seems like one of those things you've gotta do! (I will don an Orange accessory and join in :) )

May 1* (Thurs) - Train to Alkmaar (about 40 minutes), check into hotel (BW Hotel Alkmaar?), take a short taxi ride to Golfbaan Sluispolder for 18 holes; have a look around town in the afternoon/evening

May 2 (Fri) - In Alkmaar - it's Friday, so get up and go watch the Cheese Market event. Move on to Utrecht (just over an hour's ride), check into hotel (NH Centre?), then visit the Museum Speelklok and see the Dom

May 3 (Sat) - In Utrecht, quick taxi to Golfbaan Amelisweerd for 18 holes... then enjoy some cafe/canal ambience back in town

May 4 (Sun) - Train to Schiphol (33 minutes, no changes, 2 trains/hour) for flight home
Somehow, that 'feels' better. Didn't want to rush Ams - it's a fave. Also I prefer Sun-Sun - it just works out better for my job.

I'll look into the seaside area near Alkmaar, and I'm sure there is more to do in Utrecht, although wandering and maybe a canal boat would be sufficient.

Thanks you all for your input.

hetismij Aug 17th, 2007 07:31 AM

Your new itinerary looks better somehow, more relaxed. Enjoy! Hope the old geezer enjoys his golf!

PalenQ Aug 17th, 2007 08:43 AM

I've heard that some folks got a hole in one in the Redlight District

PalenQ Aug 17th, 2007 09:47 AM

are you taking your golf clubs - if not then basing in Haarlem for instance and going to nearby Alkmaar from there and to Utrecht from there by train is a snap.

can see you may not to haul golf clubs around for the day on train but maybe you'll be renting at course?

if taking clubs relocating Alkmaar-Utrecht, with at least one change and bags could be a hassle.

You can hop the bus direct from Schiphol to Haarlem direct to near your hotel or right to it perhaps - not bad even if you have clubs with you.

then day trip to Alkmaar, Utrecht with only clubs to golf.

I hear most golfcourses in Holland are flat but there can be hellacious winds.

I stayed in Haarlem in January and got hit by the hurricane-force winds the first two days i was there.

I'd also suggest keeping golf days flexible as rain is not unlikely and if sunny go golf, rain head for the museums, etc. or Amsterdam

Travelnut Aug 17th, 2007 10:46 AM

Hi, PalQ... we've schlepped golf clubs on the train (and subways) quite a few times, more in France than the Netherlands. It's a price my hubby (not really a geezer) is willing to pay. ;)
He's got a new, pared-down carrying case to try out.

PalenqueBob Aug 17th, 2007 11:56 AM

I've ridden Dutch trains for years and can never remember someone with golf bags so may turn heads.

Hats off to you!


Travelnut Aug 17th, 2007 12:54 PM

If you're a golfer you NOTICE people who have their clubs. We've stopped several people in their tracks to ask them where they play. One person was boarding a tram near Leidseplein, another was walking down the street (with the clubs) on one of our bicycle jaunts down the Amstel. So it's ok, let them stare :)

Travelnut Aug 19th, 2007 09:46 AM

Update: no golf!
H. has decided to enjoy whatever events and activities the towns offer, and hold the golf until France, when we'll be renting a car.

I'm sticking to Alkmaar and Utrecht. So is it possible to easily bike (flat land, 10 km or so) to the seaside? Is that Bergen aan Zeehead you are talking about? Is it better to take a bus or train to Bergen, then rent bikes to the seaside? Is it too windy to bike to the seaside in April?

What is the most direct way from Utrecht to Hoge Veluwe? (without a car).


hetismij Aug 20th, 2007 03:04 AM

You could stay in Bergen aan Zee or in Egmond aan Zee, which is slightly larger - if you stay in Egmond then get the train to Heiloo, then the bus to Egmond. Or stay in Alkmaar and get the bus/ bike to either one. An option would be to bus to one, then walk along the beach to the other and bus back.
You cycle through the dunes along that coast. It is a nice area to visit, lots of windmills, the dunes etc. It could be windy but there again it could be wonderful weather, no way of knowing. You could also cycle inland a bit around the Schermer (towards de Rijp)- there it is very flat, and there are loads of windmills, and even a bulb field or two.

To get to the Kroller Muller museum in Hoge Veluwe you get the train to Ede Wageningen, then the 108s bus to Otterloo and then the 106 bus to the museum. which is not available in English but is fairly easy to understand gives all the details of trains/buses/trams you need to take to get from A to B by public transport in Holland

Travelnut Aug 20th, 2007 07:23 AM

Thank you for the details!

PalenqueBob Aug 20th, 2007 10:28 AM

I did the day trip to Kroller-Muller from amsterdam via Ede-W and found it a snap - for variety i returned from museum by bus to Arnhem and trained back from there.

I had a railpass though and a day return ticket to Ede-W may be cheaper.

At the entrance to the park (bus stops) you can pick up the free white (?) bikes and ride the several miles to the museum and back too on bike paths thru the sandy forest.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:49 AM.