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Trip Report: Ams, Bruges, Delft in May 2006

Trip Report: Ams, Bruges, Delft in May 2006

May 29th, 2006, 03:24 PM
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Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 2
Trip Report: Ams, Bruges, Delft in May 2006

My husband and I just got back from a wonderful 8-day trip to the Netherlands and Belgium. We feel we had a better trip because of information we learned from this forum and hope that our report can help future trip planners as well. Here are the highlights:

Amsterdam (4 days):
• We flew from Boston to Iceland and then to Amsterdam (we both appreciated the time to get up and stretch in Iceland and would definitely book the non-direct flight again in the future). After arriving at AMS Central train station in mid-afternoon, we took a cab to Hotel Wiechmann (we had planned on taking the Opstapper to the hotel but the wait was too long). We were very pleased with Hotel Wiechmann. We were a bit concerned about it given a few somewhat-negative reviews listed on another website, but our room was large, clean, and had a fantastic view. Further, the location (on the Prisengracht) was terrific.

• Here are some highlights of AMS proper: Anne Frank House (I finished the book right before the trip, which made me even more emotional when I visited the house), Van Gogh museum (we went on a Friday evening when jazz was being played), Rijksmuseum, Begijnhof (we went twice; I highly recommend going in the morning when it’s so tranquil), Amstelkring Museum, flower market, Rembrandt House, and Amsterdam Historisch Museum for perspective on growth and history of the city.

• While stationed in AMS, we took three side trips. Keukenhof was wonderful, though I was more overwhelmed by the tulip fields (which we were lucky enough to see from the plane and on trains and buses). I can’t imagine being in Holland any other time of year—-the fields were greater than I had expected. Haarlem was also terrific; we were there for a very short time (in the evening, so most things were closed) but found Grote Markt beautiful. I’d highly recommend getting to Haarlem during the day to see its many attractions. The last side trip was a disappointment. Through a mix-up, we ended up on a bus tour to Zaanse Schanes, Volendam, and Markem (we had paid for the Alkmaar/Edam tour). We weren’t interested in these sites and were frustrated by the amount of time we spent on the bus. But we did learn that when we’re in the Netherlands in the future, we won’t need to book any tours given how easy and efficient the train system is.

• Thoughts on food/drinks: We were both happy with most of the meals we had in Amsterdam. Also, as a vegetarian, I had no trouble finding good food. If you’re fans of quality and value, and are budget-conscious--like we are--you might be pleased with these options: Maoz Falafel (it’s a chain; very fresh and cheap falafel), Molenpad on the Prisengracht (great food, good service, great view), the Pancake Bakery (though while my husband loved his pancake, we both agreed that mine wasn’t fantastic), Kantjil en de Tijger (for Indonesian), Pomodaur bakery, Vliengende Schotel in the Jordaan (for vegetarian), picnicking with goods from the grocery, and t’Dokertje brown bar (it’s challenging to find, but adorable).

• Some other impressions: We were struck by how nice everyone was and we had no problems communicating. We felt quite relaxed and safe. The “to each his own” sentiment was quite evident. Everyone seemed to always be smiling and hardly ever angry, even when you accidentally stepped in front of them as they rode their bikes! We loved the quaint canals and their history. While we had wished that the sites opened earlier and closed later, we respected the fact that they didn’t. We were a little confused by some street signs at first (squares/plazas are often listed on the signs, but a street with the same name could be adjacent, e.g. Spui vs. Spuistraat), but got the hang of it. All-in-all, we really loved AMS and were sad to leave.

Bruges (2 days)
• We traveled to Bruges from AMS via train on a Saturday. I was not looking forward to the 3.5 hour ride (with 2 transfers), but it went by so quickly and all the transfers were smooth. Despite our anxieties about the transfers (will we have enough time?), we had no difficulties and experienced no delays. It was very helpful to have the train schedule and a description of where we would transfer (we printed these from the Die Bahn site before we left). While we were given a printed schedule at the AMS train station, we did not receive any when we left Bruges (to travel to Delft).

• We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Ter Reien, via taxi at about 12:00 pm. The hotel was excellent—-great location, helpful staff, terrific view, great breakfast. The room, particularly the bathroom, was tiny but all the other hotel benefits made up for it.

• Bruges was wonderful. It was even better than I had expected, despite the “oohhs” and “aahhs” I read on this forum. Yes, there are hoards of tourists in the middle of the day, but frankly it didn’t matter to us. Brugge was just so charming, romantic, and fun—-it’s really a “must see” (and try to spend at least one night there, so you can experience a different, tranquil Bruges).

• Some highlights from Bruges: Burg Square, Market Square, chocolates (we enjoyed the Chocolate Line, Dumon, and Sweertvaegher), beer (De Garre, t’Beertje, and Het Bierpaleis), waffles (we visited Hennon Restaurant twice, once for the Brussels waffles and once for my favorite, the Liege), and carts in Markt Square for frites with mayo and bitterballen.

• After being in Bruges for about a day and a half, we decided to take a quick side trip. We had to choose between Ghent and Brussels. Brussels won; we were there in a quick hour and spent about another 4 doing a tourbook walk. We are so glad that we went but were even happier that we were stationed in Bruges. We are a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to Ghent, but there’s always next time….

Delft (1.5 days)
• Because we wanted to be closer to the airport on the day we flew out (i.e., didn’t want to take the train from Bruges to AMS and then get on the plane; also didn’t want to fly out of Brussels), we decided to add one additional stop to our trip. This was the hardest part of planning. We originally expected to go back to AMS (we knew there’d be tons still to do there); but, for some reason, we were drawn to Delft. And I’m SO happy that we were.

• We took the 3-hour train ride from Bruges to Delft. During this trip, we had one snag (the first train we were on went out of service before reaching our destination). However, we were back on track in no time.

• We arrived at the Delft train station in mid-afternoon and walked to our hotel, Hotel Emauspoort-—another great hotel with a large and nicely decorated room, friendly staff, terrific breakfast, and excellent location.

• Delft was just lovely. We wandered around the Market and then visited the Royal Dutch Delfware factory (which was much, much better than either my husband or I thought it would be). We took a short tram ride to the Hague, but came back rather quickly (it was a Monday night and the scene in the Hague was quiet). We had a nice dinner at Little Italy at the edge of the Market and my husband enjoyed a beer later at a tiny local brown bar called Trappenstiner (just behind the Neuwe Kerk).

• The morning of our departing flight, we took a walking tour of Delft (we got a brochure from the Visitors Center). We really enjoyed the tour (the brochure is extremely well written) and appreciated being able to wander by ourselves the last day of our trip. We are so glad the we stayed in Delft (and my memories are growing fonder as I read Girl With a Pearl Earring).

We really did have a great trip and would highly recommend the areas we visited, particularly for first-time travelers to Europe. Good luck!
Noslo is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 03:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 451
Thanks for the great report, it was a fun read!
john127 is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 04:30 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 512
Noslo, thank you for the report. I am reading it with great interest and anticipation, as I will be there for a concert tour, leaving June 23rd!

Glad you have a nice time.
dsm22 is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 05:26 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 95
Your report couldn't be more timely. My husband and I are going to book our flight to AMS tomorrow for 10 days. And our plans mirror yours somewhat as we will spend 6 days in AMS and then 4 days in Delft. I think we will skip Belgium as we have some relatives to visit as well as sight seeing to be done in the Netherlands and we want it to be somewhat relaxing.

I take it from your report that getting around on trains was no problem.

Glad to hear you had a great trip!!
jodej is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 08:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 729
Great report, so glad you enjoyed yourself. Barb
BabsB is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 775
Good to read you hear you had a wonderful trip.
Jodej, if you need traininfo solely inside NL, check www.ns.nl
Ida101 is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,726
Thank you for your interesting report and all the good information.

We are going to Amsterdam and Bruges in October, and are trying to decide on day trips.

I'm glad you had such a great trip.

Byrd is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 05:41 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 95
Thanks for the info Ida101. Now that we have our flights booked and our hotels almost nailed down, we will start investigating further the logistics of getting around, so that website will be of help!

Instead of 10 days, we are staying 14 days as the flights were all booked already for September. So the plan is 5 days in AMS and then the rest in Delft. More time sightseeing and to meet some relatives of DH whom he has never met.
jodej is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 07:19 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 7
very helpful for our trip planning....thanks
bobdemop is offline  
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