It’s my third times to Amsterdam. first at 1994 that i barely remember anything, second at May 2013 with whole group of Dad’s Families, and this one the third, an extended trip from WebSummit conference at Dublin. The plan isn’t much, walk around the city, visit windmills at Zaanse Schans, meet my uncle Rudi, and meet my family who are Dutch.
Day 5: 8 November 2016
Our lousy RyanAir arrived at Schiphol airport at 13.45pm . the weather was at friendly 17 degree celcius. We took the NS Intercity Train heading to Harleem and stopped at Amsterdam-Zuid. The train stop isn’t actually far from our hotel, about 1,1km. We did try to walk, dragging our heavy luggage on rough asphalt pavement, and immediately realised it ain’t a good idea. so we came back to the station and find out a nearest tram station, that was a good idea, the tram no 2 stops exactly in front of the hotel.
We stayed at Best Western Premier Couture Hotel Amsterdam (that’s long name!), albeit located a bit far from city centre, and nothing of interest around the hotel (not even convenience store), but overall its a very good value hotel (paid only USD 120 per night) . Room is spacious, bathroom is huge, spotless clean!. Tram number 2 stop right in front of the hotel and it brings me to central Amsterdam in 30 minutes (this is long, Amsterdam-standard).
After unpacking and stretching leg, we went out that afternoon. Since it was early winter, the sky gets dark at 4.30 pm. we took the tram no 2 to Dam Square, convenience stop to begin walking in Amsterdam. I was amazed with all the lighting decoration on Magna Plaza. as the weather was still showering rain, we hide beneath the Albert Heijn roof close by. We did some souvenir and snack shopping, bought a bread for tomorrow breakfast.
Then i parted with my boss as i planned to visit my Om Rudi’s house at De Pijp. We met at Okura Hotel and Om Rudi walked us to their tiny apartment on 2nd floor. He said that he’ll try to get ground floor apartment when he’s too old to climb typically steep amsterdam stairs.
He bought many smoked cheeses and chocolates for my mom. and after chatted a bit, he walked me out to the tram station, he warned me couple times to hide my camera and be watchout of suspicious people. He said that the refugees from middle east create feels of insecure around the area at night. But i managed to get back to the hotel safely, (who dares anyway? i know kung fu.. right).
Day 6: 9 November 2016
today we have full free day and this time we bought the 72 hours of OV-Chipkaart (used for travel with tram, train and buses in amsterdam) for 16.50 euro. So if you are travelling in budget, you should use your OV Chipkaart efficiently. There are 1 hour (€2.90), 24 hours (€7.5), 48 hours (€12) and more options. Ideally, if you know you will be taking public transport at least 3-4 times in a day, the 24 hours card is more economical than purchasing 1 hour card four times.
That morning was hazy, using tram no 2, we made first stop at Museum Area (Museumplein stop), where there is this famous ‘Iamsterdam’ sign in front of Rijksmuseum. There were so many people hanging to the huge letter of ‘Iamsterdam’ for photo taking hahaha… as we are not history nor art buff, we didn’t get into the museum, and continued our trip to Amsterdam Centraal, where we planned to just walk downsouth while exploring the cities mindlessly. We walked for about 8 hours (4km!), started from Amsterdam Centraal Station, stopping at souvenir shops, beautiful bridges, red-light district (no photos, prohibited), lunch at Indonesia Kantjil Restaurant, bloomenmarket, begijnhof, lanskroon bakery, to Koningsplein Station. All photos below tell the stories
At the late afternoon, we took the tram to the dam square and walked to the queen palace where i had an appointment with my Dutch Colondam Family!. I persuaded my boss to just tag along. We had dinner at a chinese restaurant near red-light district. We had a good reunion chat, about an app idea that Tom has in mind, the fate of Glenn after the last episode of walking dead s05, next Melissa’s indonesia destination could be belitung island, the almost dying stories of om Bob and many other things that we discussed the night felt warm. I also handed over the 20 pack of marlboro i brought from Indonesia to Tom. The food taste good despite the very small version, or i have been used to huge serving since dublin haha..! (not sure about the price, we were paid for).
before headed back to the hotel, we made a stop at Prinsengracht and Keizergracht intersection to take a the infamous canal photo.
Day 7: 10 November 2016
Today’s plan: Windmills at Zaanse Schans in Zaandam!. reaching there was quite easy. We took tram no 2 to Amsterdam Centraal, walk straight inside the terminal (just skip that gate without tapping anything, its free), walk further to the other end of the terminal and up one level by escalator is a bus station for intercity. Conexxion Bus 391 departs every 15 minute to Zaanse Schans and it cost €10 return. After 40 minutes ride, the bus final stop is close to Zaanse Schans and with a little walk, we arrived at Zaanse Schans!. The area is very huge, packed with windmills, typical dutch houses, barns, houses and museums. The overall landscape is very beautiful and feels authentic old Netherland Experience. Weather was super windy and cold, lucky i choose to wear the windproof jacket. As it was low season, there weren’t many people and not all windmill museum was open. We spent about 3 hours walking around the area before heading back to Amsterdam Centraal with the same bus we came here.
I promised my Om Rudi to have steak dinner with him. But i came late like 15 minutes to the meeting place, Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. I did sent him whatsapp, but he didnt read it and he was so worried. It was raining hard as well. We walked across the dam square to a Maximilliaan, a steak restaurant at Magna Plaza. Its a fine dining restaurant where my coat was taken by the waitress and the chair was pulled for me. But i didn’t opt in for wine, orange juice instead. I ordered a ribeye steak, medium. The meat taste greeeat, its perfectly cooked to medium, and its very juicy with very little seasoning. For desert, i ordered Apple pie that taste just okay. thank for the Dinner om Rudy!
Day 8: 11 November 2016
last day in Amsterdam! before going to the airport, i went to the city once again for final shopping, visiting albertcuyp, bloemenmarkt and albert heijn. all done in 2 hours!. i picked up some edam cheese, smoked cheese, stroopwaffle and more magnet.