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.)
Haha how funny those cats are! Especially that one that just sat up and hung out with you guys. What a beautiful city! If I ever get to Europe....ReplyDelete
We love cats so I suspect they recognized our weakness for them and couldn't resist being the 'stars' of our stay! Thanks for stopping by today!Delete
I LOVE that very first photo of the tulip fields. Very cool. Your post really made me want to explore Europe.ReplyDelete
By being 'forced' to go to Amsterdam, we decided there is so much more Europe to see than London and Paris and the regular stops. . .we are starting plans for 2014 that include some new destinations for us there. . .Delete
Love the bicycle photo and cat photos are a favourite of mine as well. I like the one of the black cat looking through the window.ReplyDelete
The bike really did stand out among the thousands (it seemed) of others that we passed along the way.Delete
The bicycle should be the symbol of Amsterdam. I’ve never seen so many bicycles in my life.Delete
We visited Amsterdam a long while ago, a visit that prompted us never to return. I am reading more and more about the city lately and it is certainly starting to intrigue me. Maybe it's time to try another visit!ReplyDelete
Funny how a single visit can 'make or break' a city isn't it? I can't say I was impressed the first night we spent in Amsterdam but then we got there late and got turned around and found ourselves in the heart of the marijuana-drenched red light district. It did take a second visit to ease that introductory memory.Delete
We've also visited Amsterdam as a gateway to European flights and spent 2 days there on a snowy November day a couple of years ago. I don't remember seeing any cats though. We vowed to return when the tulips are in bloom and Spring is in the air. Beautiful picture of the bikes and canals.ReplyDelete
Yikes! Snow. That would have been cold - I was freezing in the rain. And I can understand that desire to return when the tulips are blooming. . .hopefully we will see some of those blooms.Delete
Βeautiful images, I've been in Amsterdam and Holland and I really loved very much. It was the first of may when Dutchs celebrate the queen's anniversary. It was such atmoshere , I can't tell you!!!ReplyDelete
Kalimera Olympia! Oh what a wonderful time to have visited Amsterdam, your trip -- with all the celebrations going on -- must have been spectacular. And with your love of flowers and blooms you must have loved their Flower Market!Delete
Beautiful photos :)ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for stopping by on this rainy TPThursday, Muza-chan.Delete
Thanks for bringing back some lovely memories of Amsterdam for me. I was there years ago when I was 18, and your pics were just lovely :)ReplyDelete
Hi Johanna, Glad the photos brought back some good memories for you. Hopefully I will bring back more of the same after our stop there.Delete
Haha, it took me a second before I got the 'weed'-scented reference, Jackie.ReplyDelete
The fabulousness of Amsterdam begins at the airport. You got some great shots and now I want to go back.
Our state's voters just approved marijuana as a legal activity and I was writing an article for a publication and was going to describe downtown Seattle as being a place where you could catch a 'whiff of Amsterdam' in the air. . .shall I say the editor didn't like it? Hope you do make it back one day!Delete
I've always connected through Munich (for some reason, that is usually the cheapest city). I'd love to be able to experience Amsterdam.ReplyDelete
We considered Munich and a couple other 'gateway' cities this year but when the (Alaska Airlines) frequent flier miles seats opened up on Delta we were headed back to Amsterdam. . .so we'll spend a bit more time there. Good tip to keep in mind though - thanks!ReplyDelete
I've never been to Amsterdam which is something I need to fix! Its nice to know everything is so close so you can see the city on layovers! I have United miles which means my connections usually go through Frankfurt.ReplyDelete
And we've never been to Frankfurt so that is something we need to fix! Maybe next year. . .Delete
Holy smokes! Love the tulip fields. Must go there one day. More tulip photos, please.ReplyDelete
Hopefully we will catch them in bloom this spring. Hey if you like Tulips why don't you come over some year and we will visit the tulip fields here - they are about an hour north of Kirkland (and every bit as pretty as those in Amsterdam)Delete
I especially love your photo flying in.ReplyDelete
My first time in Amsterdam was great - and I remember especially loving the Van Gogh Museum. Also caught the Kukenhof Gardens in full bloom.
On the 2nd visit we were forced to spend a night after a flight was cancelled to Nairobi - and mostly I remember being tired and grumpy on that one. Hope your next visit is a fun one.
I confessed in the footnote that the photo is of a wall mural in the airport. . .afraid the fields were empty and somewhat gray on our October overnight stay. You've provided some good tips,thanks! I hope the Kukenhof Gardens will be in full bloom again.Delete
Amsterdam is such a fabulous city, isn't it... I was there in December last, loved the canals in winter, too.ReplyDelete
I think Amsterdams canals are as spectacular in their own way as those in Venice.Delete
You know I love the cat shots. The one cuddling up to the bar would be my Indy...the hell with humans she always says as she dives under the bed whenever we have visitors! Spent time in Amsterdam way way back and of course, it is on the must return someday list :)ReplyDelete
Isn't it incredible how long those 'must return' lists can grow (and how cities/places on them recycle from the top to the bottom after you do manage to get back and remember why it was on the list in the first place?ReplyDelete
Good choice for choosing Amsterdam as point of connection! I have connected in Amsterdam many times and have made it a point to stay for a least day. It's such a pleasant city to break a trip. I love how it's manageable and the people are so wonderful. I especially love being there during winter when its not crowded with tourists. One thing though that's new to me are the cats! I don't think I have seen them in Amsterdam. Maybe I'm not such a cat fan (I'm allergic) that I tend to ignore them. But your photos of them are adorable, especially the one sitting at the bar.ReplyDelete
We've only been there in late fall, so it will be interesting to see the contrast in people numbers(and hopefully more flowers. Thanks for taking the time to comment,today. Hope to hear from you again soon.Delete