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Help with Amsterdam for Christmas and Paris for New Year’s

Help with Amsterdam for Christmas and Paris for New Year’s

Sep 10th, 2014, 01:13 PM
  #1  
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Help with Amsterdam for Christmas and Paris for New Year’s

Hi,

My 20-year old daughter is studying abroad this year in Amsterdam and the rest of the family (myself, husband and 17-year old daughter) will be visiting her over the holidays. We arrive in Amsterdam on the morning of December 24th (from California) and will stay for 5 days. On December 29th, we all head to Paris for a week, departing on January 5th.

A little more background: my husband and I have been to Paris many times, but not Amsterdam. Older daughter has been to Paris once, and obviously will be quite familiar with Amsterdam by the time we arrive in December. This is my younger daughter’s first trip to Europe.

I’m hoping to get some help with the following:

- Restaurants that will be open on Christmas Day in Amsterdam and New Year’s Day in Paris. Budget is approximately $75/person.
- Suggestions for special holiday activities in either city.
- Recommendation for a day trip by train from Amsterdam. I’ve been considering Delft, Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague and having a hard time choosing one!

Any other recommendations about what to do/see/eat in either city are welcome!

Diane
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Sep 10th, 2014, 01:36 PM
  #2  
 
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the week between Xmas and New Year's is the busiest season of any in Amsterdam - as a party like atmosphere takes over the whole town centre as folks flock here from all over Europe.

It's an exciting time to be here but book hotels really really early.

check out the outdoor skating rinks at the Leidesplein and the Dam.

Here is a thread of Amsterdam I started and many contributed to.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ite-things.cfm
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 10th, 2014, 02:42 PM
  #3  
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Thanks, PalenQ, for the link to your thread. This has lots of great info!

I booked our hotel in Amsterdam quite a while ago, anticipating that it might be hard to get a room over the holidays. We are staying near my daughter's apartment in Amsterdam Zuidoost, near the Amsterdam Arena, so not as busy as a city center location would be.

Diane
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Sep 10th, 2014, 03:46 PM
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Delft!

Charming, walkable, lovely -- I stayed over but could be a nice day trip!
annw is offline  
Sep 10th, 2014, 05:40 PM
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That time of year it is dark - - VERY dark. I would seek out busy places with lots of lights, because otherwise it can be depressing. Amsterdam definitely qualifies. I wouldn't consider The Hague, because things are too spread out. Delft has a concentrated tourist center; Haarlem is pleasant and lively if the shops are open; Leiden has a bit of a walk from the train station to the center but it can be really nice because it is non-touristy, but a bigger town set nicely on canals with lots of restaurants and stores (again - - go when stores are open). Stores (Leiden/Haarlem) tend to be closed on Sundays, Christmas, and the day after Christmas (Boxing Day).
dfourh is offline  
Sep 10th, 2014, 08:30 PM
  #6  
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Thanks for the replies.

Annw, appreciate the Delft recommendation!

Dfourth, I realize the days will be quite short and possibly rainy and cold in December, which is perhaps a good reason to skip The Hague if the sights are very spread out and would require lots of walking. Thanks for the reminder about the stores possibly being closed on Boxing Day! I'll keep that in mind as I'm making plans.

Diane
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Sep 10th, 2014, 09:08 PM
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You're welcome! I also stopped over in Haarlem, an even shorter train ride (what, 20 minutes from downtown Amsterdam?) and it was fine, smaller scale than Amsterdam, but I thought not quite as charming as Delft.

Loved Netherlands and the Dutch and hope you enjoy your time there.
annw is offline  
Sep 11th, 2014, 06:36 AM
  #8  
 
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If doing Delft you can easily also do The Hague on the same day - I did it recently - took train to Den Hague C.S. - walked to the Mauritshuis and old castle complex then thru the town center to Den Hague H.S. station and took the train to Delft.

The main sights in The Hague are neatly clustered around the Mauritshuis - and Delft is compact as well - a nice day - quick look at highlights of The Hague then the rest of the day in Delft.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 11th, 2014, 07:09 AM
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The museums in Amsterdam are open on Christmas Day and Boxing day, which is also a holiday here.
Trains run a Sunday service normally on those days.

I can't recommend a restaurant but you will need to book as most will be open only for booked meals. Chinese and some other ethnic restaurants will probably be open as normal, but even Chinese restaurants may be reservation only as many Dutch people enjoy going for a blow out Chinese meal for Christmas.

Short hours of daylight shouldn't affect too much, there is plenty to see and do indoors and out after dark, including the Amsterdam light festival. http://www.amsterdamlightfestival.com/
hetismij2 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2014, 08:55 AM
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Thanks again for the replies. Looks like a day trip to Delft and possibly The Hague on Saturday, Dec. 27, might be ideal (assuming the weather cooperates!).

hetismij2, the Amsterdam light festival looks like fun! I'm definitely going to add that to our itinerary.

I appreciate all the suggestions,

Diane
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Sep 11th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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I think you could probably just stumble across some modest places open, like cafes, or small ethynic restaurants, in Paris on NY day, but it sounds like you want a special restaurant.

I would probably suggest Bofingers near the Bastille column as it will be within that range and I do like their food a lot. They are open almost all the time, so I bet they will be NY day (I know La COupole is open on NY day in Montparnasse, so that's another idea -- they have same owners, I just like the atmosphere in Bofingers better). They are cheap compared to some very expensive restaurants, but they do have special prices on the holidays (like Christmas and NY eve) higher than you want, so not sure if they will on NY day, also. Last year is was a minimum menu of 71 euro.

Here is an article with specific
s but be warned they are talking about trendy, pricey restaurants so not sure any would be only US$75 for dinner.
http://parisbymouth.com/holiday-aler...ill-be-closed/

This is one of my favorite "chains" in Paris, they have several very nice restaurants and the food has always been excellent in the ones where I'ved dined (about 3-- but one is my favorite I"ve been to a lot -- Bistro Champetre in the 15th). They would be around 45 euro probably per person, and are open Sundays when others are not, so might be on NY day.
http://www.bistrocie.fr/

They have pretty good quality control, I think, so any one of them near you should be fine. To make it easy, just use lafourchette.fr to make reservations, I've used them (for Bistro Champetre, I believe), and everything was fine. YOu can easily see what's open on your date. It's free. You can't book on there for 1/1/15 yet, though.
Christina is offline  
Sep 11th, 2014, 10:33 AM
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For something maybe out of the ordinary for a day out from Amsterdam, why not the Speelklok museum im Utrecht? You get to see a selection of instruments working, and end up by the huge dance hall organs playing beside a dance floor, if the mood should take you

http://www.museumspeelklok.nl/?Language=en
http://autolycus-london.blogspot.co....ed-to-have.htm
PatrickLondon is offline  
Sep 11th, 2014, 11:04 AM
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If you do go to Utrecht visit http://www.domunder.com/en as well.
hetismij2 is offline  
Sep 11th, 2014, 01:23 PM
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Christina, Thanks for the suggestions for NY dinner in Paris. The website Paris by Mouth is a great resource and I'll look through it in detail to see what's available. If I need to increase my budget to $100/person then I will, since I am looking for a special meal, although don't want to go over that if I can help it!

Patrick and hetismij2, I hadn't considered Utrecht, but now I'll investigate more. Appreciate the links to make the research easier!

Thanks,
Diane
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Sep 11th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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Paris is fantastic for NYE. A lot of restaurants only offer a special set menu dinner that can be a bit pricey. You may want to do some research and book in advance.

New Years Day the areas around the main tourists site were busy, but there were cafes etc open in these areas....you certainly won't starve

You can see our winter pics of Paris here

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pug_gi...7636716043473/

Have a great time!
jamikins is offline  
Sep 11th, 2014, 03:34 PM
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Just about everything was open in Paris on the New Years Day I walked thru it - just another Sunday - only proper stores closed but even some museums were open! People walking around everywhere.

The French celebrate Xmas the night before - at midnight on Christmas Even after folks come back from midnight Mass (which nearly no one goes to anymore but...)

Amsterdam is a blast on New Year - as mini bombs go off everywhere starting from early afternoon - the next day the city streets seemed like to have been in a war zone with fireworks remains lying all over. And there were outdoor concerts at places around town - a big one for younger folk at Museumplein.
PalenQ is offline  
Sep 16th, 2014, 11:29 AM
  #17  
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Thanks again to everyone who provided some great recommendations and links for further info!

Diane
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Sep 17th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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Actually, by train, you'll be closer to Utrecht than to the Amsterdam centre, time-wise.

Arena is probably fine, but the area behind it (Strandvliet and its metro station) I would consider a no - go area. The area to the north of the trainline (Amsterdamse Poort) is great for day time shopping, but after hours it's deserted. Also bear in mind that the metro system stops its service around midnight.

Also, check

www.iens.nl

and book early for dinner over christmas: many restaurants do special dinners and can be booked weeks in advance.

Iens has an easy to follow ranking system and the places floating to the top are favorites based on scores of guest reviews.

(i'm asking the question about zuidoost, because, although it's been cleaned up over the last ten years, it can be patchy in places, so location matters a great deal in feeling safe walking to and from your metro station. bus services are not as convenient and often take detours going into town. your daughter will be more "zuidoost - savvy", so ask her for input. at night, beyond amstelstation going to zuidoost, traveling on the metro can be "funky" sometimes, so beware)
menachem is offline  
Sep 17th, 2014, 08:42 AM
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Hi Menachem,

My daughter's apartment is literally right next to the Arena and the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, where her classes are. I appreciate the warning about safety. She says she feels safe in the area, although I don't think she walks around there much at night.

Thanks so much for the link to the restaurant website! This is really helpful and nice that it's in English.

Diane
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Sep 17th, 2014, 04:01 PM
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No problem. We used to live in Zuidoost, first in Venserpolder, more to the north, then, when our son was born, we moved to Strandvliet and then moved out to Rotterdam because living there in Strandvliet with a child was out of the question. Since then, the area has gone consistently down hill and has been declared a safety risk area, I think now for 8 years running. Crazy thing is, the traditional Zuidoost problem areas have now been quasi gentrified and are better, but the result of that has been that relatively newer areas like Strandvliet have suffered from the consequential fall out.

The Arena area: if there are no concerts on in Heineken Music Hall, it's a desert. It's the office district ( I used to work in the Atlas complex)

The tip about Utrecht for a day trip is a serious one: it's about 15 minutes by train from Bijlmer station.

Not saying you'll have to run for your lives ever, while staying there, but good to be a little more watchful, walking from the Arena station to your hotel.
menachem is offline  
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