This trip report post is long overdue. We visited Amsterdam at the end of December 2016. It was part of a our Christmas trip to a couple different European cities. This is the first of a series of three blog posts on our experience in Amsterdam.
Arriving in Amsterdam
We took the train from London to Amsterdam with a stopover in Brussels. My wife wrote up a great post on our time in London. I’ll be sure to add one as well in the near future. We found the European trains to be comfortable and relaxing. I was able to take a nap and watch a movie on our way to Amsterdam.
Our train terminated at Amsterdam Central Station. However, the bed and breakfast that we were staying at happened to be slightly further north. Therefore, we quickly bought tickets for the Sprinter train. We later found out that our train tickets from London to Amsterdam would have covered this short transfer, but we didn’t want to take any chances.
We hopped on this Sprinter train for another couple of stops before we reached our destination. My wife and I strapped on our backpacks and walked the 8-10 blocks to the bed and breakfast.
Parkzijde Bed and Breakfast
Our bed and breakfast host greeted us and showed us to our room. It was a nice room with its own bathroom and table. The location was right next to a Oosterpark (hence the name of the bed and breakfast). It was walking distance to many of the tram lines that took you into the heart of the city.
Over the course of our stay, the host would fill a refrigerator full of breakfast items. There was an option for them to cook us meals in the morning, but we opted not to do since we liked to get an early start on the day. However, we found that the hosts pretty much provided the same food every morning, which we were tired of by the end of our 3 night stay. Furthermore, making your own breakfast in a makeshift kitchen isn’t really what I had imagined.
The hosts were friendly and helpful, but in hindsight we should have just stayed in an AirBNB apartment or at a hotel.
Using the Public Tram
After dropping off our stuff at the bed and breakfast, we headed out to explore the city. The main thing we had planned to do on our first day in Amsterdam was to jump on a canal cruise. In order to get back to Amsterdam Central, we decided to take the tram into the city.
Keep in mind you can only enter trams from the front and middle. There will be multiple other doors, but these are exit only. If you haven’t bought a tram pass yet, you’ll want to enter in through the middle doors. There will be a ticket counter as you enter and you can buy single tickets or passes here.
You can buy anywhere from a 1 to 7 day pass depending on how long you’ll be in Amsterdam. They are good for unlimited rides and have a built in chip that you use to scan/check in and out of the tram. Here is the breakdown in cost for the day passes:
During our three day stay in Amsterdam, we pretty much took the tram everywhere. It was really easy to get around and they ran pretty frequently enough that we never spent much time waiting. Many of the tram routes begin and terminate at Amsterdam Central. We also walked quite a bit and found Amsterdam to be a pretty pedestrian friendly city. Just be careful you don’t get taken out by a bike.
Amsterdam Canal Cruise
It was pretty cold during our first day in Amsterdam. Luckily the Amsterdam Canal Cruise consists of a covered, heated boat. There are a variety of different canal companies to choose from. The main four are: Lovers, Blue Boat, Amsterdam Canal Cruise, and Grayline. There’s also a hop on/off cruise as well. We opted for the most convenient one, which was the Grayline cruise.
There were several benches with tables between them. Imagine diner seating, but on a boat. At the head of the table, there was a intercom system which allowed you to plug in headphones and listen to the commentary in your native language.
It does provide for some good photo opportunities. However, please don’t be like the mom and daughter that were sitting across from us. They were pretty obnoxious with all their picture taking throughout the cruise.
After we finished our canal cruise, we strolled around Dam Square and actually did some shopping. I mostly wanted a new scarf since it was freezing cold and scarves are a thing in Europe. There are several department stores, coffee shops, and other souvenir shops in this main area.
We also ate an early dinner at this charming little restaurant called, Café-restaurant van Kerkwijk. We chose to eat their sampler platter along with some beer and mint tea. It was delicious! We then took the tram back to our bed and breakfast. Continue reading the 2nd part of my Amsterdam Trip Report here.