Whoever jacked up those fees and taxes forced us into discovering the ease and affordability of flying into and out of Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands; a city bisected by waterways, overrun with bicyclists and surrounded by tulip fields.
We’ve overnighted there -- thanks to flight connections -- twice during recent travels and have been so taken with the rain-soaked,‘weed’-scented town that we’ve scheduled ourselves there for three nights on our return from Greece later this spring.
Amsterdam’s Old Center is like a fairy-tale setting with its crammed cookie-cutter shaped buildings and narrow walkways that line miles (kilometers) of its canals. Back in the 17th Century three concentric semi-circular canals were built around the Old City and after that so many branch canals were created that there are 90 islands and 1,280 bridges just within the city.
We didn't get to walk across many of those bridges as we had a less-than-24-hour taste of the town in October – just enough time to spend an evening on Rembrandt Square – a short two blocks from our hotel.
(Walking in Amsterdam is not for the light-hearted . . .cyclists, of which there are hundreds, don’t yield to pedestrians. Sidewalks and curbs are not uniform. And the architecture is so charming that you must balance your sightseeing with watching out for those cyclists and trams and cars when crossing those picturesque streets of theirs.)
We arrived in the rain-soaked Square – our Seattle umbrellas getting a workout that rivaled back home -as we searched the square for shelter from the rain. There were so many ethnic restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes that it was difficult to decide where we wanted to eat and drink.
A pub to the side of the Square finally was our chosen spot of rain-respite. We had hearty servings of local-style pub grub and were entertained by watching the passing parade of people.
. . . reflections and snippets of daily life. . . a teaser to see more. . .
Next time, we told ourselves, we must stay a bit longer.
Another plus for the city: its cats! We met a number of ‘working cats’ – but even mousers could use a break at the end of the work day, right? This one seemed to enjoy our company but didn’t like posing and moved around a bit. . .thus the somewhat blurred photo. . .
Too soon, it seemed, our few hours of exploration were gone. It was time to brave the bikes and rain and head to our hotel. But it wasn’t too soon to start planning a return visit!
If You Go:
Schiphol Airport, is 15 km (9.3 miles) from Amsterdam - a city with more than a million residents. There are shuttles, private taxis and train service into the city from the airport. We prefer staying in the Old Center of town near Dam Square, so we take the train from the airport station into town – the train station there is in the Old Center - then catch a cab to our hotel if its raining or too far to reach on foot.
As with any big city, the hotel selection is large and their prices vary. We booked this charming old Travel Classic* using Hotwire. If you missed Tuesday’s introduction to our Travel Classics* feature, check it out by clicking this link.
That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday so head over to to Budget Travelers Sandbox and hope to see you back here real soon! (Those who might have noticed the opening photo of tulip fields and my reference to an October visit when there is nothing in bloom - this is a photo of a mural on display at the airport - maybe it will look like this during our spring stopover.)