Amsterdam Trip Report - Oct. 2007

Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Amsterdam Trip Report - Oct. 2007

Here is my first trip report - I hope it is helpful!

On Thursday, Oct. 18, my mother and I boarded an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Amsterdam (connecting through London Heathrow). We departed at 6:00 p.m., had a slight delay due to some crazy Chicago weather, and arrived in Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport at about 2:30 p.m. Friday local time. We checked no luggage (quite a feat for 2 women!!) and after deplaning, we wandered around for a while trying to figure out where to get a cab. We eventually found our way to the downstairs baggage claim area where signs point towards "taxis." We made our way to the taxi stand and hopped in the first taxi in line.

Our taxi dropped us off at the Banks Mansion (Herengracht 519-525) and cab fare was 50 euro. We had reserved a "deluxe canal view room" for 339 euro a night. The room was very cute (room 106) and literally looked right down onto one of the canals. The room contained 2 beds, a bureau, desk with a chair, comfy lounging chair and ottoman, a small table containing gin, whisky and scotch, and a small refrigerator nicely stocked with soft drinks, juices, beer and wine. There was also a glass vase on the desk containing 3 green apples. Our plan was to get out and immediately hit the streets, but unfortunately we both passed out!

We woke up at 7:30 p.m. and decided to get some dinner. The hotel recommended we go to Ponte Arcari, a smallish Italian restaurant across the street and over the canal from the hotel. We went there and checked out the menu, but actually wound up going next door, to Herberg Hooghoudt, for some local Dutch cuisine. We started with 2 Brand pilsners, ordered an appetizer of shrimp croquettes, and for dinner we both had the vegetarian eggplant special. It consisted of thinly sliced eggplant with a filling of different vegetables (olives, onions, carrots, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes) and a balsamic/garlic topping. It was fabulous! For dessert we shared a dessert plate of mini treats and we each had a cappucino. Total bill was 78.20 euro.

They had live music playing almost the entire time we were there. It was a wonderful place and would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.

We then walked back to the hotel and retired for the night.

The next morning, we woke up and walked back to the canal to take a canalboat tour. We took the "Rederij Lovers" boat museum tour (cost was 9.50 euro a person). The tour lasted about 2 hours and took us by a lot of popular sights, such as the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum and NEMO. I was fascinated by the Sea Palace, the world's largest floating Chinese restaurant! We thought we would get off and go to the Anne Frank House, but good lord, the line was all the way down the block and wrapped around the corner. So we have to save that for our next trip.

After the canalboat tour was over, we walked next door to the Waterlooplein and shopped at the flea market that was set up. We waded through rows and rows of clothes, tourist souveniers, insence, jewelry. Finally, we stopped and had a snack of frites and mayo at a stand at the end of the market (1.90 euro). They were great! We originally shared and order, but I wound up going back for another order. Wow, were those frites good!! After some more browsing and a walk through the opera house that is right there, we wound up finally at Ponte Acari for lunch. We each had 2 Cokes, I had the homemade porcini ravioli, and my mother had a caprese salad. Then our waiter gave us 2 cappucinos "on the house" for dessert. The bill was 27.00 euros.

Next, we walked around the area and did some quick souvenier shopping -- we got the requisite wooden shoes!

For dinner later that evening, I thought we'd try the Indonesian place directly across the street from our hotel. I asked the girls behind the reception desk how it was and they said "Oh, P. King? It's fabulous! You must go!" So we went to P. King - which turned out not to be the Indonesian place I was thinking of (P.King is actually Chinese). But are we glad we went! We ordered 2 Cokes each, an order of spring rolls, and order of "crab scissors" (these were fishy tasting - this was the only thing we didn't like), and for the main meal we shared an order of garlic beef and fried rice with a side of pan fried noodles. For dessert we each had cappucino. The bill was 28.75 euros. Our waiter was super nice and spoke perfect English - we thought he was from the states!

Then we retired for the evening, and the next morning it was, unfortunately, time to leave and fly back home.

Here are my quick obserations about Amsterdam:

The Amsterdam people are one of the nicest I've ever come across anywhere. Anything we asked, they either said "Okay" or "Of Course." So friendly, so willing to help.

Amsterdam as a city was beautiful. So much to see that we are disappointed that we limited ourselves to just a couple of days. We WILL be going back and spending a longer amount of time there.

The food -- WOW! Loved everything! How can I get someone to ship me home those frites??!

Our hotel was fabulous, although we really didn't utilize all the features that were available. Liquor was free, but we never imbibed at all. Breakfast was also free, but we never made it down in time. The people behind the service desk we really sweet and helpful.

And that's that!!


Stacy312 is offline  
Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Great report, good to read you like Amsterdam.
But next can make reservations before online for Ann Frank house on their website to avoid the lines!;setlanguage=2
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 10:40 AM
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Thanks very much for posting your report.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 10:54 AM
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Glad you had a great trip! Thanks for taking the time to post your report.


ida - I didn't know you could make reservations online. Thanks. We waited until the very end of the day to go and the line wasn't too bad, but also we had to rush a little. Thanks for the link.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 11:16 AM
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Saving for a possible 2009 trip!
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 12:15 PM
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Stacy...Am I reading correctly that you flew from Chicago to Amsterdam for 1 full day of visiting?? What motivated you to spend $2000 (I'm guessing) to do this?
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 12:17 PM
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Great report, glad you enjoyed Amsterdam - but next time take the train from the airport, it will save you a fortune!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 08:24 AM
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Hello ourjetboat!

You are correct -- we were in Amsterdam for only 2 days. I'd like to say I'm independently wealthly and that's the reason for a short, expensive trip! But the real reason is:

We had originally planned for a 2 week Europe trip. Every year we like to go to Paris and tack on 2 new places that we have never been before. So I booked everything for this initial trip.

Then my husband won a cruise on Norwegian Cruise lines for 4 people in November. Since my mom and I only get a certain number of days off a year with our jobs, we could not do both the Europe trip and the cruise. We elected to cancel the Europe trip and go on the cruise.

BUT -- the Banks Mansion was non-refundable (Best Buy rate - prepaid in advance) and was almost $1,000. I didn't want to lose that money, so we went ahead and decided to do the Amsterdam portion of the trip anyway. For airfare, we turned in a bunch of frequent flyer miles and since the hotel room was paid ahead of time, we really only spent money on food and the little bit of souveniers we bought.

So now maybe you don't think I'm so crazy?
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 09:23 AM
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I don't think you are crazy, if I had the ability to go, I would have done the same thing. Loved Amsterdam and also loved the frites with mayo. Yummy!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 09:41 AM
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I'm leaving for Amsterdam on Friday with my husband for 3 nights/4 days.(without the kids). We are staying at Hotel Prinsenhof on Prinsengracht. We will do the Anne Frank Museum, canal cruise, Van Gogh...
Any tips, ideas, must sees, fave things?
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 10:54 AM
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We went to a canal house museum and it was really fun. Also spent some euros at the Diamond factory. If you click on my name you should find my report about Amsterdam under the title of TN Trio of Terror.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 11:27 AM
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Definitely see the Rijksmuseum.

Like the Van Gogh, you don't have to be an Art nut to absolutely love this museum. Take the audio tour that is offered - there are 2 choices - opt for the art tour not the historical tour. A dutch actor (can't remember his name but he is famous in US too) narrates the tour and his enthusiasm is really contagious. I loved this museum and the audio tour. I'd go back just to see it again.

I loved the canal houseboat museum. Watch the video in the back - fascinating. I think this is not too far from the AF house...Only takes an hour or less but really neat.

Also visited the Museum Van Loon house and garden and again it has a great video downstairs by the original kitchen.

Anne Frank house - must see... get the advance tickets... bring tissues. This was much more emotional for me than I expected. I'm not a crier but I did cry alot...I did this late in the day and then just roamed around for a few hours after. You do need to pace yourself afterwards as your mood may be a little quiet for awhile.

De Reiger at Nieuwe Leliestraat 34 is a very friendly brown bar with great food and ambience.

For some peace and quiet and to counter all the vice - Begijnhofkapel in Begijnhof...Daily mass in Dutch at 9 and Sunday at 10...

I absolutely LOVED Amsterdam. I went alone last April. It rained non-stop but I fell in love with this city in the pouring rain. Don't let the sometimes sketchy night time scene detract from this amazing and friendly city.

Walk, walk, walk or ride a bike around. It's a great city to just look at everything and explore the shoppes and architecture.

You can really see a lot in 3-4 days.

Have a great time!! I'm jealous.

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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 11:54 AM
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Thanks Stacy312,

Nice report, and very timely for me. I leave Monday, 10/29 for Amsterdam.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 01:47 PM
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Ida101: thanks for the Anne Frank House link. We will be in Amsterdam the first week of April and will defintely be buying tickets online in advance.
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 03:28 AM
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Thank You, great advice.
I'm making notes...
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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Sounds like you have a good time. We're planning to visit Amsterdam next summer (unless the Holland/Belgium/Germany trip turns into a Germany/Switzerland trip).

Also, thanks for the link to the online ticket sales. I've got it bookmarked.
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 10:16 AM
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It sounds like you had a cute time! I absolutely loved Amsterdam when I visited last year.

bellaboo, if you are interested in music, oftentimes the Concertgebouw (near the Museumplein) has cheaper, last-minute seats for their evening concerts. You can stop in the box office during the day to see if there are any available - sometimes they release unsold tickets to the public early the next morning.
Old Oct 24th, 2007, 10:21 AM
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Hi Stacy,

we had sunday lunch at the sea palace - it was full of chinese families doing the same thing and was really good. Never knew it was the largest floating chinese reaturant in the world though.

like you, we loved the multi-cultural cuisine. Much better than what we can get in Cornwall.

regards, ann
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Old Oct 26th, 2007, 09:57 AM
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stacy312- thanks for the timely post. My husband and I will be visiting in Nov. I'm jealous of the free Norwegian cruise trip.
ida101- THANK U so much for the tip re Ann Frank House -- I have not come across this tip in Fodor's or Frommers web site/guide book.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 12:16 PM
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Nice trip report. Thank you!
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