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First trip - need advice

We will be arriving in Amsterdam 3 days before our Best of Europe trip in May. Would like to stay and see some sites in Amsterdam before we travel to Haarlem. We have never traveled abroad before and can use all the help/advice we can get!
1. How do we get from airport to hotel in Amsterdam? Can we use USA cash or do we need to covert our money?
2. Recommended reasonable hotels near the Anne Frank Museum?
3. How do we get from Amsterdam to Haarlem?
4. How do we get from Haarlem train station to the Ambassador City Cente hotel?

Posted by
21625 posts

Question number 3 - train is easiest - from Amsterdam Centraal train station to Haarlem train station - 15 minutes on the train.

Have you looked at where there are lots of hints. Borrow or buy a copy of the Rick Steves Amsterdam and the Netherlands Guidebook - it will profit you.

Posted by
21625 posts

Question number 1 - Which Amsterdam hotel?

Posted by
4 posts

We haven't made our reservations in Amsterdam yet.
My Rick Steves books should be coming soon!

Posted by
6272 posts

Oh gosh, this is an awesome tour! You will see SO much!

  1. I'm sure one of the links says this but you'll use the Euro for money in most of Europe. You'll go to an ATM, use your own debit card and withdraw Euro just like you'd get dollars at home. You'll check with your bank ahead of time to see what their charges are for withdrawing foreign cash. It may work out better to open a new account in a credit union which often has lower charges. My credit union charges 1% on the amount of cash withdrawn. Some banks charge 3% or 5% and also have a fee - like $3-$5 per transaction. Many just get money when they land but I don’t like to deal with an ATM when I’m jet lagged.

On my first trip I also got a limited amount of Euro from my local bank so I'd have money when I landed. You don't get as good an exchange rate as you would at the ATMs in Netherlands but it was worth it for the peace of mind. I now just bring back 100-200 whatevers (Euro or British pounds) so I've got seed money for next time.

Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc but don't worry about getting this ahead of time. On the bus your tour guide will go over how much each person/couple will probably spend and will suggest how much money to get out of the Swiss ATM in Lauterbrunnen.

I took a cab from the station to the Ambassador. It's not far and it's walkable but there was a downpour when I arrived and I just paid for a taxi. It was probably 10Euro and worth it.

You didn't ask, but I'd suggest you go out to Haarlem the night before your tour starts. There is a lot to see in Haarlem and you don't spend much tour time there. Editing to add: crossposting with you. I'd just book 2 nights in Amsterdam, then do Haarlem the 3rd night before the tour.

For Venice, plan to leave your suitcase on the bus and just take in a small bag with minimal clothing/toiletries for your 2 nights there. The bridges in Venice are actually steps so if you've got roller luggage you have to lift and carry over every bridge plus getting on and off the vaporetto. The bus will park at a big parking lot on the mainland and as a group you'll board the vaporetto to the hotel stop. I just put on clean clothes the morning we left Reutte, packed a clean shirt, unders and pjs in a packing cube and put it in my tote bag along with my minimal toiletries. I pack light so I generally wore my pants for 3 or 4 days and my shirts for 2 or 3 days.

For your budget - do all the extras your guide suggests. The transportation up the mountains in Switzerland on your free day is expensive but just pay for it and don't think about the cost, lol! You won't regret it! If the guide offers any optional dinners, take them up on it!

It's pretty old now, but here's my trip report from 2014.

Posted by
84 posts

Just a heads up.
Tickets for the Anne Frank House go on sale online exactly two months in advance. (Meaning the exact day) i.e. Tickets for March 3rd are available January 3rd. Tickets for May 3 are available March 3rd.
Set a reminder to access the website in March on the days that match your May trip. 80% of the tickets are available online exactly 2 months out. The other 20% are available online the same day.