My husband and I finally took the trip to Italy that we had initially planned for May of 2020. We had credit with WestJet, and since they have no direct flights to Italy from Calgary in November, we ultimately decided on a layover in Amsterdam, and took advantage of this to spend a couple of days in this city, since we had never been to Amsterdam.
We bid for an upgrade to business class ($10 above the minimum bid) and were successful. So, our Hallowe'en, overnight flight to Amsterdam was peaceful, and we were both able to sleep much of the way. Our flight landed at Schiphol Airport at 12:40 pm, and it didn’t take long to go through border control. We bought a 3-day pass that gave us transportation on buses, trams, and trains, including the train from the airport, plus a ticket for our return train trip on the 4th morning, and it wasn’t long before we were on the train headed to Centraal Station. From there, we caught a bus to our accommodation—Sweets Hotel Beltbrug. We were a bit ahead of check-in time, so I texted the hotel to let them know we had arrived early, and we found a bench along the canal to wait in the sunshine for our door code. We got the code just as we were watching the bridge go up to let a boat through.
Our “hotel” was really a tiny house once used by the bridge keeper for the Beltbrug bridge. We entered to find a delightful, charming little place. It had a king-sized bed surrounded on two sides by shelving. There was a small sink and a bar-sized fridge, as well as a kettle. There was a closet, with a wall safe, and some cubbies beside the closet. Slippers were provided for us in one of the cubbies. A half-moon table was set into the wall by the front window. A bathroom containing a toilet and shower (all in one room) was near the exit door. The room was bright and had views of the canal on three sides—the front looked out onto the street that crosses the bridge, the side overlooked the bridge itself, and the back overlooked a windmill along the canal. We loved it!
We settled in and went for a walk to check out the neighbourhood and get some supplies. We were taken with some of the architecture—such as triangle-shaped apartment buildings—the number of bicycles parked on a nearby street (dozens and dozens), and what we presumed was a little free library, complete with a bookshelf, an easy chair and a table, all outdoors. There was a grocery store nearby, so we picked up some milk for our coffee, bananas, pastries, and snacks. We ordered dim sum for supper using Deliveroo, and a fellow on a scooter delivered our dinner about a half an hour later. After dinner, we went for a brief walk along the canal.
We had reservations at the Anne Frank House the next morning. We walked there. It took about half an hour, and we got there early, so we explored the charming area a bit. The AF House is a must-see for anyone who has read the book or who is interested in Holocaust history. We liked the respectful way the the audio guide stopped for the annex section. It was sobering to see the markings on the wallpaper showing the children’s growth and pictures Anne had pasted on the walls to decorate her space. Most amazing was seeing a brief, accidental film clip of her, looking out the window at a bride at the Westerkerk next door.
We had an hour to wait for the antigen test we had booked nearby, so we explored the canals and architecture in the area some more. After our test, we headed towards the Museumplein, where we had a reservation at the Van Gogh museum for that afternoon. It was raining, so we found a sheltered spot to wait for our test results. Once we got them and entered them into the app, we headed into a restaurant for our first inside-a-restaurant meal in over a year. We chose the Small Talk Café and Coffee Shop on a corner near Museumplein.