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Amsterdam Planner for the Clueless & Clued

Amsterdam Planner for the Clueless & Clued

Old Oct 29th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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Amsterdam Planner for the Clueless & Clued

I have had the fortune to spend vast periods of time in Amsterdam, my very favorite city in Europe, for decades now - both on business and pleasure. So this trip report will be a amalgam of literally hundreds of separate visits to Amsterdam! And like any Siren i am looking forward to visiting again late this December.

I have incessantly been exploring this multi-faceted and fascinating city and wish to here give a basic planner for clueless travelers who know little about Amsterdam and are planning sojourns there - and as well giving things well off the beaten path that i've stumbled on for folks planning return visits.

So here goes - in my first installments i will cover what are the MAIN SIGHTS, including several great MUSEUMS, must WALKS to take, BOAT TOURS, THE MUSEUM PASS; USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT; SAFETY TIPS; EASY AND GREAT DAY TRIPS TO CONSIDER, and more..

Amsterdam is a surprisingly compact town in the tourist core - no more than say 4 square miles i'd say and is thus eminently walkable. And by any accounts in what is one of the world's most beautiful and unique cities any walk i've ever taken was sheer pleasure, in spite of the oft wet, if rarely really cold, weather.

NEXT - PLANNING YOUR TIME AS A FIRST-TIME AMSTERDAM VISITOR
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 07:57 AM
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Just in time! I'm hoping to make my first visit next year, and I'm ready to start planning. Lead on!
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 09:27 AM
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Amsterdam is also high on our list of destinations in Europe, so I'll be keeping an eye on this post - thanks.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 10:25 AM
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Lovely! Planning our first trip next year.

Were you the person who stayed in the Prinsengracht D flat from Simply Amsterdam? I noted it from someone here, but can't remember who. Planning on staying there in March.

Thank you!
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 10:32 AM
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Great timing - we'll be there over the New Year's holiday! Thanks, Palenque!
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 10:34 AM
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sounds great. I've been there once for 24 hrs and I definitely want to go back.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 11:34 AM
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slangevar - i hope to be in Amsterdam over the New Year's Holiday as well - it is the very busiest time of the year in Amsterdam the Amsterdam Tourist Office told me once - apparently folks flock there from all over Europe for the ambience and whatever - streets full at night and really bombastic fireworks displays i guess for hours everywhere - i've never been the week between Christmas and New Years and am looking very forward to it. And if you have not make room bookings yet hop on it - one year i tried to find any room for my son during that week and it was nearly impossible, even several weeks out.

melissa - no t'waint moi and i will admit that accommodations are not my expertise - i'm rarely in my room when in such a place and take basic budget digs that i would probably not recommend to others, not knowing their criteria.

As they say in Dutch "Tot Ziens" see you soon (now sure of exact translation!)
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 02:47 PM
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Palenque, With a 9 hour layover, we certainly can do several things in Amsterdam. My question is if we arrive at 11;45 am, should we do a river cruise before or after the Anne Frank House?? And what else would you suggest we squeeze in?? We will not have any luggage to worry about and we are good walkers. Thanks dap1206
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 02:48 AM
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dap1206 does your flight arrive at 11.45? If so you need to allow a lot of time just to clear the airport - it can take 15 minutes just to taxi to the gate, depending on which runway is in use. What time is your ongoing flight?

If seeing the Anne Frankhuis is your number one priority then I would book tickets on line for that, at say 14.30 or even 15.00 to be on the safe side. You can always do a canal boat ride afterwards if you have time, and can walk around the city a bit before hand, and have a cup of coffee, or something stronger, if you are in early. Alternatively if you need to get to the AFH quickly for you timed entry take the stop and go bus from outside the station (follow the signs to the stop). You pay cash for the ticket and it runs along Prinsengracht so is very convenient for the AFH.
You will need either coins for the NS ticket machines or will have to buy your ticket from the window at Schiphol which will cost a little bit more but not enough to worry about.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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dap1206 - Hetismij' take would be mine as well. There are luggage lockers inside Schiphol's transit zone i believe so stash you bags there before exiting Customs - or if these are unavailable there are luggage lockers in the basement of the arrivals hall after exiting Customs - there are ATM machines all over the airport to get Euros with your ATM card. buy a return train ticket to Amsterdam C.S. (Centraal Station) and when boarding the train be sure that Amsterdam C.S. is on the overhead board - about half the trains to Amsterdam do not go to Amsterdam C.S. but to Amsterdam Zuid-WTC and Amsterdam RAI, stations on the fringe of Amsterdam - i am always amazed when i take trains to Zuid-WTC as i frequently do that there are also tourists who have gotten on the wrong train. If you have time from the Anne Frank House a leisurely stroll along Prinsengraacht, one of the really cute ring of canals, back towards the train station would be sweet. As for boat rides i always suggest choosing one that also goes into the harbor and not just in the canals - the harbour cruises give you a neat view of Amsterdam from afar - it's old Flemish facades hemming in what was once one of the world's busiest ports.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 07:58 AM
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Our flight out is at 8;55 pm so I know we have to be back in the airport by 7:00 pm. That gives us about 6 hours to tour if we get our bags in lockers and on the train by 1;00 pm. Is that doable?? Since Amsterdam is a "bonus" and not our primary stop I would hate to miss the fight. Is the weather decent there in Mid November? Being from Michigan, we are used to cold and rain then. Thanks for the input
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 08:07 AM
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The weather will be similar here to Michigan I'm afraid, plus it gets dark fairly early, but that shouldn't put you off.
It is very doable. Book the Anne Frankhuis tickets online so you don't have to queue and as I said allow enough time for getting into the city, I would say book tickets for 15.00 if you can. There is enough to do before hand should you get in earlier.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 08:18 AM
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The weather in Amsterdam all winter i would call like early November in Michigan - but up here in far northern Michigan Amsterdam will be warmer - rarely any snow it seems anytime in Amsterdam and the canals rarely freeze over like they once always did. Bring good rain gear and it may well be windy as well - layering is good - you will not need heavy-duty warm gear but a sweat shirt and sweater layered under some water-proof outer wear. Canal boat tours take about an hour so you will have ample time - if you could research a tour that would near its end dump you off at the Anne Frank House all the better - there is a boat dock right in front of the house.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 08:49 AM
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dap, if your flight is back to the US our hotel told us that we should be at the check in counter 3 hours before our flight. We were told about one of their hotel guests from the US who got there two hours ahead of time and was denied boarding. You probably don't have to worry about checking your luggage but you are right to allow two hours to get to the gates. Our experience is based on just returning from our first trip to Amsterdam FWIW !!! It's a wonderful city, have a great time. Deborah
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 09:02 AM
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dap is on a transfer so their bags will presumably have been checked through and they will be checked in for their flight, which gives a little extra leeway.
They should be sure to be back in plenty of time as security is at the gate and can take a long time to get through.

We usually get there about two and a half hours before the flight for the US, when checking bags, if we have checked in on-line.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 09:03 AM
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Meanwhile Pal we await your first instalment with bated breath.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 02:37 PM
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more Pal more....
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 02:55 PM
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I think he's gone off for some early ice fishing
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 03:04 PM
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ttt 4 later
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Old Nov 2nd, 2009, 09:55 AM
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thanks for the interest - no no ice angling yet - ice has to be pretty thick to not break when i clamber on it

HOW MUCH TIME FOR FIRST-TIME VISIT TO AMSTERDAM

Of course the more time you can spend in a place the better, to a point but with Amsterdam i would say a full three days and nights there will be sufficient for the average tourist - not everyone falls in love with Amsterdam and not uncommonly some find it was a gorgeous city but somehow felt uncomfortable there - perhaps by the Redlight District, which can only be described as tawdry and the rampant soft drugs tolerance inside and out of the town's many infamous coffeeshops where cannabis is sold from menu boards with often various types on display.


i think Amsterdam has really cleaned up its act since in started going there for the first time 40 years ago - in the 80s it really seemed to be out of control in many ways - street crime was rife, streets were littered and there were way too may down and out drug addict types laying about. But during the 90s i'd say a lot of this has greatly improved, so some folk may be getting an impression of Amsterdam from travelers from a few decades ago and not now. Whereas in the 80s i would be really really vigilant in the tourist areas today the city seems much like any other big city in Europe - you always should be on guard but i at least feel a much more relaxed outlook in this regard.

And for first-time travelers the fact that English is spoken - by nearly every Amsterdammer the tourist comes in contact with - usually quite fluently - makes travel here a bit easier than in some cities in other countries where English is much less spoken.

ANYWAY - ORGANIZING YOUR TIME

MUST SIGHTS (not my personal ones but what i think are consensus must sights that one does not want to leave Amsterdam without having seen or done)

THE CITY ITSELF - Like Venice Amsterdam to me is one whole visual feast in the historic core - featuring several rings of canals, all lovingly lined by ancient Flemish-type facades, and uniquly also trees - often Dutch elm trees it seems.
For Individual Sites: RIJKSMUSEUM, VAN GOGH MUSEUM, ANNE FRANK HOUSE & MUSEUM, TAKING A CANAL BOAT TOUR, THE REDLIGHT DISTRICT (OK may revolt some but it is still called one of Amsterdam's most popular things for tourists to see) and the FLOWER MARKET. And for many, even for folks not imbibing, at least peeking into one of Amsterdam's famous Coffee Shops is 'high' on the list - no pun intended.

Other MAJOR SIGHTS INCLUDE:

Waterlooplein's Flea Market
Albert Cuyp Straat Market
The Heineken Experience (just re-opened after renovation)
The Stedelijk (Modern Art) Museum
The Royal Palace & Dam Square
Vondel Park
Centraal Train Station's Facade - one of Europe's best, architecturally
Museum Plein

And a host of other sights that could be of interest to many - such as the Troppen Museum, the Hermitage (of St Petersburg) Museum branch here, Our Lord in the Attic museum; the Jewish Museum; the Dutch Resistance Museum, the Zoo, the Botanical Garden; the Watefront east of Centraal Station - rapidly being redeveloped into one of Europe's most unique waterfronts - hop the Ijs Tram that rolls along it -

I think three full days is leisurely enough to take in the main sights - again central Amsterdam is surprisingly compact. And the trams are also so so efficient in re-locating quickly from any spot to another.

So i hope to work thru the above list and also cover essentials like the National Museum Kaart - unlimited visits to hundreds of Dutch museums in Amsterdam and all other cities and Using the Tram and Tram Pass, Strippen Kaarts, etc.

Tot Ziens - Back Soon

And i would really encourage folks with experiences and opinions of Amsterdam to add their input - have different takes, etc. this is really a forum on Amsterdam and not just a trip report.
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