After an overnight flight from the states, we landed in Amsterdam around 8:30 am. We were able to catch a catnap or two on the trip so that we were raring to go once we hit the city. Our time in Amsterdam was going to be limited and we wanted to catch as much of the city as we could with the time we had. Jo’El had the foresight to pre-purchase 2 day Amsterdam travel tickets that allowed us unlimited use of the rail, trams and buses to navigate the city. I will have to say that the Amsterdam tram system is one of the easiest I have seen to navigate. It is a fantastic first time city for someone that would like to travel to and experience Europe. The people were very friendly and welcoming and everyone spoke English. We were able to head straight to our hotel from the airport and check in early so we did not have to worry about our bags for the day. A perk of being an Intercontinental Hotel Group member. (IHG) We had the opportunity to freshen up and talk about what we wanted to do first. From the hotel, we headed back to the tram station and took a tram into Amsterdam Central, the old part of the city, it is where we spent most of our time. As we wandered the narrow streets of the city, we admired all of the little shops and restaurants. On the larger boulevards, shopping and more dining was available to suit any taste. The restaurant the Jo’El had picked for lunch that day, was closed when we arrived. Apparently the owner was on an extended holiday. We ended up finding a little sandwich shop in a quant little neighborhood that prepared toasted sandwiches.
After lunch, we started to make our way to the Anne Frank house, we had advanced tickets for 2:45 pm. We read that tickets should be purchased in advance in order to avoid the long lines. What we did not know was that you cannot enter the building until just before your schedule tour time. We were planning on spending time in the café and museum store before the tour. Just a little something to keep in mind if you ever do go. The tour of the house was somber and informative. It is well worth the time and money. The presentation in the museum covers more that just her diaries, it tells the story of her, her family and the families that helped to hide them for two years while Amsterdam was occupied by the Germans. It also tells of the plight they faced under the oppression of the Nazi party.
When we left the Anne Frank house, there had been a change in the weather and we were not dressed properly to spend the entire evening in Amsterdam Central. We headed back to the hotel to change into some warmer clothing and we decided to catch an hour nap while we were there. The trip to the hotel and back took less than an hour. After returning to Amsterdam Central our plan was to see as much of the intertwined streets and canals as we could, while eating our way through the town. I do not know how to describe the nightlife in the city, but the streets were lined with people. It was a Friday night and the city was alive despite the cold. The number of little “snack shacks” for lack of a better term was astronomical. You could not walk 2 or 3 buildings before you would see something else to eat. There were sweet shops, cafes, deli style stores, shops that specialized in just a few items like Dutch fries. Fries are a national pastime just like hotdogs and baseball in America. We enjoyed sweets, cheese and bacon hotdogs and of course fries. We had ours with the local favorite mayo and ketchup on them. The fries were perfectly done and I will have to say they are pretty good with mayo on them.
As we made our way around the city, yes we strolled through the red light district. What can I say, it was not what I expected, but all I will say is it is a must see.
By this time, it was late and we were spent, so we headed back to the hotel for the night. I will submit another entry about the next day of our journey and wrap up Amsterdam and continue with our travels. Until then, good night from Budapest.