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Amsterdam Trip Report. Ten days in April 2022

My wife and I spent ten days in Amsterdam before our Viking River cruise in mid-April, 2022.
This is a detailed, opinionated, and personal experience report on our visit here. As we did this trip on our own, I had spent a lot of time before hand researching and planning our itinerary, and since I had been to Amsterdam 40 years ago, when I backpacked through Europe after college, I knew what I wanted to do and see. And while most of my planning went as envisioned, I did have to have a plan B. I hope you can cull something useful from this report for your next trip to Amsterdam. And if you are a local or visitor who knows Amsterdam well, add your comments on how we could have done it better.

Schipol airport nightmare

First, I must mention the nightmare that is Schipol Airport. Beginning in April and into May, 2022, the airport has seen major delays in getting people to and from their flights. If I were only transiting through to somewhere else, I would seriously consider flying via a different airport.

In mid- April, when we arrived, the delay wasn’t so bad. We landed and after the long walk the nearest passport control gate, found it backed up with crowds of people packed tight (we put our masks on) and no organized waiting line and general chaos.

Their (TSA?) security was only letting through EU passports without children because these people could use the facial scan machines. Everyone else was told to wait… and waited we did for over an hour. Though, later, we were finally told to go to a different passport control line, in a different terminal. It was long walk from there back to baggage claim.

The only memorable thing about the experience was that I became impressed with the Dutch people’s mastery of the English language. Young Dutch people, study English (or German) as a second language in school, but never have I seen a group of people whose second language is English, master the nuance of sarcasm, both in understanding it and delivering it.

The TSA personnel announced in English, that only EU passports would be allowed in first. A person called out from the crowd “What about UK passports?”
And without missing a beat, the agent said, her words dripping with sarcasm, “You’re no longer part of the EU. Elections have consequences.”

Train to Amsterdam Central- OV chipkaart

The easiest and cheapest way to get from Schiphol Airport to Central Amsterdam is by train.
From my research, I knew we wanted to buy an anonymous, refillable, OV-chipkaart because we would be traveling to other cities outside Amsterdam during our stay and wanted the flexibility to use the card both in and out of Amsterdam.

We found the yellow ticket machines near the escalator entrance to the train platforms in Schiphol plaza and switched the language on the screen to English and followed the instructions to buy an OV-chipkaart.

Several things to note: A blank chipkaart cost €7.50 and is non-refundable. You add money to the card. And to ride the trains you must have a minimum of €20 on the card. So, my initial purchase was for €27.50. I suppose I could have filled the card with €50 euros on it, to save time when we refilled the card every other day, but I was hesitant, because what if I lost the card?

The other thing to note, is the machines only take credit cards that have an NFC chip and PIN number. When it’s time to pay, you tap your credit card on the circular sensor. There is no credit card slot. Sometimes, it asked for a PIN, most times not. It’s best to get a chip and pin card before you visit Europe. And, almost every place in Amsterdam only wanted us to pay by credit card. (This is in stark contrast to Germany, where they wanted us to pay in cash.)

The cost to go from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal, with an OV kaart was €4.65. If you were to buy a one-way ticket from the airport, it would cost €5.65 because you are charged €1 for the disposable plastic card.

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If your balance is under €20, the TRAIN gates will not let you pass. (in stations that have train gates) But the bus, tram and metro lines will allow you to use the card until it’s empty. I got my card down to 59c on the tram before I had to fill up.

Refilling the card was not as obvious. You tap your OV chipkaart FIRST on the sensor, then the screen shows your balance and choices. Then, I switched the screen to English and made my selections.

The third thing to remember is that on Trams and buses, you must tap in when you board and you must TAP OUT at the yellow boxes when you exit.

My first digression: When I explained to several Americans on the river cruise later, how easy it to use the train, they gave me the following answer why they wouldn’t: First, they lived in Hicksville, America and had never ridden public transportation in their lives, and they weren’t about to start now; and second: they didn’t speak the language.

When I explained that they could switch the language to English by touching the British Flag on the bottom left. They said to me, “Which one is the British flag?”

I wanted to tell them it’s the flag that has the red cross of St. George, the white diagonal cross of St. Andrew and the red diagonal cross of St Patrick, but I think the sarcasm would have been lost on them. And when they said they needed American English, not British English, I said my goodbyes and avoided them for the rest of the trip.

Another cautionary story: The cost to ride the tram is €3.20, if you just board the tram and ask the cashier for a one-hour single ticket. But with an OV chipkaart, I saw I was only being charged €1.00 to €1.50 for each ride (depends on the distance) , so there is a big savings to have a chipkaart or day pass.

At one stop, an American woman and her elderly mother boarded the tram. They only wanted to ride two blocks back to their hotel because the mother was tired from walking. The cashier said to her, “It’s very expensive to go two blocks.” in a voice that hinted -you really want to do this? But the woman paid the €6.40 by card.

However, the tram doesn’t stop at every block. It goes to specific stations along the route, and the tram passed their hotel without stopping and ended at Amsterdam Centraal, where they realized that they now had to walk back to their hotel even further than when they had boarded.

Another useful hint: They only sell 24-hour tickets and single ride tickets on the Tram. If you want the 3-day ticket, you have to go to the NS office or GVB office at the train station or other designated sales office.

Navigation: Apple Maps, Apple Watch and other useful apps

Two apps I downloaded that I thought would be useful: the NS train app to get train times, and the 9292 app for the bus and tram schedules and routes. In the end, the Apple maps app, was just as useful. I would say “Siri, give me directions to the Van Gogh Museum” and the app would show me where to walk to catch the tram, and what tram to take, and when the tram was scheduled to leave and arrive. I used this feature every day. I also connected my Maps app to my apple watch, so that it could quietly give me directions to turn left or right on my wrist. The last thing I wanted was for Siri to announce out loud that I should turn right at the next intersection.

Where to stay in Amsterdam? In the Jordaan Neighborhood- On a Houseboat!

As I had been to Amsterdam in my youth, where I stayed at a youth hostel in the Red light district, I knew I wanted to avoid that area at all costs. (It’s a safe area now, though it wasn’t back in the 1980’s) but the crowds and type of people visiting the area isn’t something I want to be near). I also knew from my travels back then, that the best area to stay is the Jordaan district.

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The Jordaan District has the beautiful tree-lined, narrow canals such as the Prinsengracht. This residential neighborhood has trendy restaurants, cozy pubs frequented by locals. It’s like the Greenwich village of New York. The Anne Frank huis is located here. And I knew that my experience (and my wife’s first time experience) would be much better here than staying in, or near, the Red Light district or the De Pijp or Museum Quarter.

And to top off the YOLO (and we aren’t getting any younger) outlook on life, my wife and I decided we wanted to stay on a houseboat. We found a 2-bedroom houseboat on the Korte Prinsengracht canal on bookahouseboat.nl The up-front payment and cancellation conditions are strict and it's not cheap. So I was glad to have had travel insurance, but it all worked out well. The houseboat was a fifteen-minute walk from the train station. While walking with her luggage, my wife had her first close call with a bicycle at a crossing and she wasn’t walking in the bicycle lane. We walked along Haarlemmerstraat. I was amazed at all the brown cafes on this street. How can the neighborhood support all these places to smoke weed? Later, I saw lots of young tourists going into smoke. I found it interesting that everyone knows what these places are, yet they can’t advertise their wares. You must go in and ask for a menu.

Our host met us at the boat, checked us in and for the next five days, we had a great experience, with the swans outside our living room window every morning while we drank coffee.

Later, our niece, who was studying in Maastricht, joined us and took the second bedroom. I recommend the houseboat to anyone who doesn’t have mobility problems. There was a big drop from the dock to the front door stoop. But I’d stay here again.

As it is a residential neighborhood, I found that most Dutch apartments don’t have window curtains or at least don’t draw them in the evenings, and we can see what people are doing at night and in the morning as they prepare for their day.

We walked over to Café Winkel 43 There was a long line but a short wait, and we had our first meal, and apple pie dessert. Due to the pandemic, we tried to eat outdoors at many restaurants, if they had outdoor seating, but we found all the smokers are outdoors- and we hate smoke.

We then walked over the office of Those Dam Boat Guys, to see if we could get a boat tour that same afternoon, but booked for the next evening.

First day, and jet-lag
We always fly into where our tour starts early because of jet-lag issues. (This trip, we came in ten days early) And we book nothing that costs money up front or a pre-purchased ticket on the first day there, just in case, the flight is delayed. But we do have an idea of what we want to do.
We were too tired that first evening, to even walk around, so we found a take away restaurant called Meat and Greek, serving gyros and ate them there.

The grocery store- Albert Heijn

Before calling it a night, we stopped at the local Albert Heijn market for coffee items and big bottles of water. Grocery Bags cost extra, but since we live in California, we are used to bringing our own grocery bag. I wasn’t surprised when my wife pulled one out of her purse, and off we went.
One personal experience: We now say Hello in English to the cashier, so that she/he might catch a clue that we don’t speak Dutch. Sometimes it worked, other times not. But the cashier always showed us the receipt with the numbers, so we knew how much to pay.
Several Albert Heijn’s had self-service check out registers for card payments only. We did encounter one store that did not accept our MasterCard or Visa credit cards, only debit cards.

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Boat Canal cruise with Those Dam Boat Guys

Forty years ago, when I was backpacking through Europe, I took a one-hour, canned audio tour, boat ride in a glass-covered 50 passenger canal boat for €10 and I hated it. This time, I wanted a more personal experience, so I booked a boat canal tour with Those Dam Boat Guys, whose dock was only 3 short blocks from our houseboat. The cost difference was significant: €29.50 for adults, €25 for students for a 90 minute tour versus €14 for the Lovers one hour canal cruise, which our host liked.

If you look at TDBG’s website, their flippant, irreverent style gives the impression that their boat trips are going to be a drunken, smoke ridden party boat of revelry. And if you bring your own liquor and weed, I guess it could be. But I was glad that the ten people on our boat did NOT smoke or drink and were calm and sedate as my wife and niece and I were.

The boat tour company was fully booked for the Sunday afternoon that I had planned and for the next two days. But they added an 8:00 pm boat ride for the next evening to accommodate us. I wondered about the waning daylight, but the boat trip on the canals with the lights at night is a wonderful experience. There were only 10 people on the boat. The captain gave us personal, interesting, and funny commentary as we toured the canals. We had blankets for when it got cold in the evening. It was one of the highlights of our time in Amsterdam. I highly recommend this company!

Breakfast Restaurants

While restaurants in other areas of the city open early to cater to the tourists, the breakfast restaurants in the Jordaan open at 9:00 a.m. and are filled by 9:15 am. We were fortunate that in my planning I bought tickets for the museums starting at 10:30 am. Anything else earlier and we would have been eating at the fast-food places or Starbucks along the way.

So, we learned to be at the breakfast places at promptly 9:00 am in order to get a first seating. This gave us a leisurely walk to the tram stop with ample time to spare once we arrived at the musuems.

We liked Café Winkel24 (great apple pie) , Greenwoods Singel, at Singel 103, the Pancake Bakery at Prinsengracht 191, and Pancakes Amsterdam, at Prins Hendrikkade 48 for breakfast. These restaurants are small, so there was usually a waiting line at all of them.

Dinner restaurants- reservations a must

For dinner, reservations were necessary at the places we wanted to eat and at many of the neighborhood restaurants in the Jordaan. One night, without reservations, we walked around the Jordaan to several of the local restaurants, but they were booked. We found an Italian place called Pepes Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria at Westerstraat 144 , that had a table for us. Within a half hour, that restaurant was full.

We had dinner at Café Restaurant de Plantage (for atmosphere and because it was near the Dutch Resistance Museum.)

We enjoyed Moeders for the Dutch Comfort food and the walls full of pictures of people’s mothers, Long Pura (for the Rifstaffel, a must do gastronomical treat while in the Netherlands), Loetje Amsterdam Central (across the Stationsplein from the train station, and with a water view. Very convenient after getting back from a day trip and not having a reservation.)

We also ate at Chuan yan, a Chinese restaurant in the Chinatown district at Binnen Bantammerstraat, which was very good.

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We did not like Jansz1, which is attached to the Hotel Pulitzer in the Jordaan. It was very expensive and the food was nothing special. That’s the last time I take the advice of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Free Walking Tour- Tip based.

I like taking the free (tip-based) walking tour of the European cities I have visited. It’s best to take them early in your visit so that you can use the guide’s recommendations later. We did our walking tour with Freedam tours. The tour guide gave us a good introduction to the history of Amsterdam, why it exists in this geographic spot, covers the maritime history, which includes a discussion of the red-light district. The walk does not include the red light district but walks on the outskirts of the area. The tour guide hints that all you have to do is walk down that street there. But the local city rules prohibit them from guiding commercial tours there. The tour walks to the former Jewish district and passes several sites of historical note before ending up at Dam Square in front of the Royal palace. I also highly recommend this walking tour.

From the end of the walking tour at Dam Square, We took the tram #14 to Artis, a tram stop near the zoo and walked to the museum. Along the way, we stopped for lunch at a café and had Flammkuchen- a German pizza.

Dutch Resistance museum

Since I had been to the Anne Frank house 40 years, people on this website recommended I visit the Dutch Resistance Museum. It was good recommendation. The museum wasn’t crowded. It was interesting and a good follow up to visiting the Anne Frank huis. The exhibits explored the reasons the Dutch either collaborated with or resisted against the Germans, and outlined the history of the Jewish deportations in Amsterdam. While the Anne Frank Huis, is specific to the Frank Family, the Dutch Resistance Museum, explores the plight and decisions made by the Dutch people at the time. The Museum comes with an audio guide and we spent two hours to see and listen to everything. We had to leave at 5 pm when the place closed. Which worked with our planning, because our dinner reservations were for 5:30pm at De Plantage, which was down the street.

After dinner, we took the Tram #14 back to Amsterdam Central. My wife is forever grateful that we did not walk the 2.8 km (1.74 miles) distance back. She advocated for less walking and taking public transportation wherever we were going and that worked out well for us.

Keukenhof Gardens- Tons of Tulips everywhere!
The number one reason we were in Amsterdam in mid-April was to see the tulips in bloom at Keukenhof Gardens. There is no need to book a private bus tour to get there. You can do this on your own as we did.
We purchased in advance, through Keukenhof’s website, a combo- public bus/garden entrance ticket for €33.50 each.
So the next day, all we had to do, was to take the train from Amsterdam Central Station to the Airport (using our OV-chipkaarts) and then walk outside Schipol plaza, turn right and walk to the bus area, where the staff was waiting for us. They checked our bus tickets and put us on the public bus to Keukenhof. It couldn’t have been easier. The return trip was in reverse and just as easy.

Tickets for the bus were on a timed basis, so we had to be there by 10:00, but could board up to 30 minutes before or after. The garden entrance tickets were any time entry. But the place does sell out, and by afternoon, the lines of people standing in line for admission was long.

We spent 5 hours- from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm, walking around, taking hundreds of pictures, and having lunch. This was the highlight of our five-week trip to Europe. If you can be in Amsterdam in mid-April, this is a must see and do.

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Rijksmuseum

The next day, after our 9:00 am breakfast at the pancake house, we took the tram #2 to Musuemplein tram stop to visit the Rijksmuseum. You must purchase tickets online, and in advance, for a specific entry time. The museum does sell out.
The audio tour costs €5 extra. but we downloaded the Rijksmuseum app onto our iphones in advance and brought our own earphones. Once inside the museum, we connected to their Wi-Fi, turned on our Bluetooth settings, and the app guided us from room to room. (Another good reason to have a smartphone with cell service in Europe). We did the two-hour highlights tour, which covers many of the Dutch masters, including Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch”.
My own personal assessment is that the Dutch paintings are TOO dark, so they are not my favorite style. The museum did get crowded by 11:30 am and we felt compelled to put our masks on. Not very many people wore masks even though the museum recommended it.

Albert Cuyp street market

From the Rijksmuseum, we walked to the Albert Cuyp street market and sauntered from one end to the other and back before buying our krokets and kibbling for lunch followed by poffertjes and stroopwaffel for dessert. The street market was one of the few places that took cash. we were glad to finally have some coins in change, should we have needed a WC that required payment.

I also bought my orange T-Shirt to wear for Koningsdag, which was coming up in a couple of days.

At the West side of the Albert Cuypstraat, there is the underground subway station. This was the first time I had ridden the Amsterdam subway. It was clean and modern. We rode it back to Amsterdam Central.

RedLight District tour with PIC

One experience unique to Amsterdam is the Red-Light District. You won’t see this in any American city. So, it’s worth a visit just to see it, and try to understand it, rather than pass moral judgement on it. The city now prohibits commercial tours of the Red Light District after dark, but you can walk it yourself. Once you arrive at the Oude Kerk (old Church), you can’t miss the store front windows with the scantily clad women and the red lights.
But I wanted to take a tour to get more detailed information rather than just gawk at the women, so I contacted a non-profit sex worker advocacy group at the Prostitution Information Center, next to the Oude Kerk. The center run 90 minute tours of 4 people, several days a week at 5 pm for €25 per person. We booked in advance and showed up at the office and waited in their office for the tour guide. As we waited, we talked to the staff members, who asked us about our visit to Amsterdam so far. At 5 pm, the tour guide didn’t show, and we were told the tour would be cancelled. The staff members could see the disappointment in our faces, so they told us they would take us around for a little while. We didn’t have to pay full price, but we could donate to their group whatever we thought we should give.
The staff members are former sex workers, and they are not polished tour guides. When they asked us what did want to know or see, we told them, just tell us stories about your life in the area. And for the next 90 minutes, they walked us around the Red-Light district pointing out the windows where they had worked or where their friends had worked, telling us stories, some funny, some poignant, some sad, about their daily lives as sex workers. They did manage to cover the sex worker issues that they were advocating for, such as childcare, free medical, better police security and wanting to remain in the neighborhood rather than be forced to a different area, as the City council was planning to do.,
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They are upset that they pay their share of taxes on their legal earnings, but the government doesn’t support them like they do other businesses. My favorite line from one of them was “The Government is the biggest pimp. They take a portion of our earnings and give us nothin in return."

Van Gogh Museum

The next day, after our 9:00 breakfast at Greenwood Singel, we took tram #2 again to Musuemplein to visit the Van Gogh Museum.

We had timed entry tickets for 10:30 am, purchased online in advance. There was a sign saying they were sold out that day. The museum was crowded, so we wore our masks.

I liked this museum. It’s small, but you really need to be interested in Van Gogh (pronounced Goff by the Dutch) to appreciate it. It comes with an audio tour. We decided to start at the top floor and work our way down each floor. We spent 2 hours here and had lunch at their café Le Tambourin.

Bicycle riding in Vondel Park and on the city streets.

Since we had been here several days, my wife was confident enough to ride the tram by herself back to the houseboat, remembering to tap in and tap out, though she was tapping out on the wrong spot on the yellow box and another passenger helped her.

From here, I walked over to the nearby A-bike Rental at Tesselschadestraat 1-E and met my niece there. We were going to ride bicycles in Vondelpark on this beautiful, warm sunny day to find geocaches. The major mistake I made was not booking and pre-paying in advance. There was a long line, and when I got to the front of the line was told that if I hadn’t paid in advance, they had no more bicycles. They did tell me, I could walk to their other location, a 15-minute walk away from the park and towards the city center. I didn’t want to disappoint my niece, so we walked there and were able to rent two bicycles, and a phone holder for €26 for two hours. So Plan B worked.

The issue, however, was we were a distance away from the park, and we would have to bicycle along the canal streets, to get to the bicycle path, on a busy main thoroughfare, to get to the entrance of Vondelpark. We set off.
What an experience! I have ridden bicycles all my life and gone on long bicycle tours but riding a bicycle on the city streets was nerve-wracking. And what made it a dangerous ride, was the TOURISTS WADDLING AIMLESSY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BICYCLE LANE, while trying to avoid the bicycles coming in the opposite direction and the cars in their lanes next to you.

I must admit, I yelled at some people wearing baseball hats, T-shirts with logos, shorts and sandals (American tourists, I presume) to GET OUT OF THE BICYCLE LANE!
Fortunately, I didn’t hit anyone, and nobody hit me, so when we got to the open space paths of Vondelpark, we had a wonderful time bicycling around the park. I found geocaches, including the Oldest geocache in Amsterdam. We rested at the café Devondeltuin with a drink and to use the toilets. We then rode our bicycles back to the shop and encountered more tourists in the bicycle path.
Now, as an experience bicycle rider in Amsterdam, I sympathize with the Dutch bicycle riders who curse at clueless tourists who think they can walk anywhere they want with impunity.

Hotel near the station and River port- Doubletree

On the fifth day, we checked out of the houseboat and walked to the train station. We said goodbye to our niece, who took a train back to Maastricht. We wheeled our bags over to the Doubletree Hotel and left them in storage, as we could not yet check in.

We booked and paid extra for, a room with a view of the city. Some rooms faced the train tracks to the North, and others had inner courtyard views.

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We liked the Doubletree. It’s an American style hotel with comforts that Americans are used too, including a Starbucks. We booked here because of the proximity to the river Cruise port and to the Train station, which was good, because the next few days would be day trips by train outside Amsterdam.
Day trip to Delft
We took the hour-long train ride to Delft.
From the train station, we walked along the canal 1.2 km (0.75 miles) to the Royal Delft Factory and Museum. We had lunch at their café and did their tour and visited the gift shop. I can only recommend the visit if you are interested in Delft pottery.

It was a hot day, so I was not looking forward to the mile long walk back to Delft Centrum.
I asked at the ticket office about the Tuk Tuk shuttle that was supposed to be in operation. I didn’t see it at the train station. And they picked up their phone and called.
The tuk-tuk arrived soon thereafter and for €3 each took us to Delft Centrum, saving us the long walk. We asked to be let off at the Vermeer Center and paid €10 to visit.

Vermeer Center
There aren’t any original Vermeers here. This museum is the story of his life and family, his time in Delft, and his artistic technique and you see reproductions of all his paintings. I would only visit here if you are interested in Vermeer, otherwise I would have skipped this. As for the rest of Delft, we didn’t think it worthwhile to pay to see inside the New Church and the old church, even though William of Orange is buried here. Some travelers like the quiet, smaller, laid back vibe of Delft and Haarlem, but I liked Amsterdam much more because of the Jordaan area we stayed in. Both Delft and haarlem were too sleepy for me.

We took the train back to Amsterdam. We wore our masks on the train ride.
We ate dinner at Loetje again, because we were too tired to walk somewhere else.
Back at the Doubletree, we thought about going up to the SkyLounge in the evening to see the view, but the line was long and guarded by bouncers. Hotel guests don’t get any head-of-the- line privileges, so we didn’t visit in the evenings.
Maritime Museum

On Saturday, I decided to visit the Anne Frank Huis, while my wife visited the Maritime Museum. The Maritime museum is within walking distance of the Doubletree on a nice pedestrian bridge that skirts the NEMO science museum. My wife spent almost all day here, but she’s really into sailing and nautical stuff. I would have been bored after the first 30 minutes. She also had lunch at their café and bought lots of souvenirs.

Anne Frank Huis

I took the Tram from Central station to the Westermarkt stop, which is near the Anne Frank house and got in line about a half hour before. While waiting in line, I talked to an older American couple in front of me. They said they didn’t have any problems getting tickets, even though the tickets sell out moments after they are offered two months in advance.
An usher came by asking to look at our tickets. There was no point waiting in line if your admission time was over 30 minutes, she said. When she looked at the couple’s tickets, she told them frankly, “These tickets aren’t for our museum. They are for the Anne Frank Walking tour, which meets in the Jewish quarter and visits the area that Anne Frank would have grown up in, and is run by a different company.” The couple was flabbergasted. They thought they were buying tickets on Viator for the Anne Frank House and would be walking through it. “Happens all the time” said the usher. So be aware of what you are buying. The couple were turned away, because the museum was sold out, not only that day, but for the next month, and I’m sure they were disappointed and I don’t know if they took the walking tour they bought tickets for.

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Dinner at Moeders
We took the tram #12 from Central Station to Marnixstraat and walked from there to Moeders (Dutch for Mothers) restaurant at Rozengracht 251.
The small restaurant’s walls are covered in photos of people’s mothers. The menu is Dutch Comfort food. I had the Stamppot, which is a mash potato and carrot base, with gravy in the middle and served with a side of dutch Sausage or other meat. Very filling. Reservations required.
Haarlem
The next day, Sunday, we took the train to Haarlem, because the flower floats from the Flower parade would be on display. The train trip encountered a detour, as the train stopped at Sloterdijk station and everyone going to Haarlem had to take a bus that brought you to Haarlem station.
From Haarlem station, we walked south on Jansbrug street to the Grote Markt and St. Bavo church. The Grote markt was full of carnival rides. We asked someone and they told us the floats were further south, so we continued walking along the pedestrian area of shops to find the floats.
Afterwards, we walked by the Corrie Ten Boom house, (I had read her book- the Hiding place)but it was closed on Sunday, and so we walked to over to Adrian Molen, a windmill. We had lunch at an outdoor restaurant next to the windmill. Afterwards, we walked back to the train station via Bakenessergracht to see the narrow and cute houses. We caught the bus back to Sloterdijk station and took the train back to Amsterdam

Floridae
The next day, the weather was rainy. We took the train to Almere and walked via the pedestrian centrum to the Pier Esplanade to catch the ferry boat to Floridae Expo 2022, which is billed as an International Horticultural exhibition that takes place once every ten years. Unfortunately, the expo had recently opened and several pavilions, such as the French and Italian villas weren’t even finished.

The expo was supposed to showcase green and sustainable technology- a lot of it using renewable lumber, or new biobased building materials or recycled building materials, but there was nothing new to see, and most of the ideas would be useless in drought stricken California. Only the tulips were in bloom and the rest of the park wasn’t that attractive. This was one of the few disappointments in our trip, and maybe because it was raining hard, but I cannot recommend visiting here, especially if your time is limited. We left in the mid-afternoon several hours and took the train back to Amsterdam.

Giethorn bus tour
The next day, we took a bus tour to Giethoorn. The cost was €79 per person. I suppose I could have figured out how to get there on my own via train and bus and done it for cheaper, but bus package tour was too convenient. The tour left from the front of the Hotel Baribzon Palace, a short walking distance from the doubletree. The tour included a boat ride along the canals of Giethoorn and was a relaxing tour.

We had our last dinner in Amsterdam at Grand Central 1884 at De Ruijterkade 10, walkable from the Doubletree and in view of the River Cruise dock. Reservations required. It was a nice place for dinner.

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Konigsdag- Our final day in Amsterdam

April 27, Koningsdag is a national holiday in the Netherlands. Revelers wear orange, the national color. They flock into Amsterdam and pack the squares, canals and streets and party. Public transportation within the city is shut down. I knew this all beforehand because of my research planning, and that is one reason we didn’t want to be in the houseboat on the Prinsengracht canal on Koningsdag. We would have been inundated by crowded boats of drunk and noisy revelers wearing orange, traversing the canals. Fortunately, the city has a one-way route that the boats must follow, or the boats would be crashing into each other.
The other reason we stayed at the Doubletree is that with the public transportation shut down, we could easily wheel our bags to the river cruise dock from the hotel- and that’s what we did.
Several other river cruise passengers told us stories of not being able to get a taxi and having to walk with their luggage from the Museum District- where Viking put them- to the river dock, over 3.1 km (1.93 miles)!
I put on my orange shirt and began wandering the streets, walking to areas of Amsterdam I hadn’t been too.

To my disappointment, the streets were quiet at 9:00am. At around 10 am, the locals were just putting out their rummage sale items on a blanket in the street. Only around 11:00 am, did I see people dressed in orange board their boats to begin their procession on the canals. I didn’t see any crowds in the morning, but there was heavy traffic control, keeping cars out of the central areas and large electronic signs stating “Beware of Pickpockets”.

One of my chores for the day, was to take our OV-chipkaarts to the NS office at the Centraal station and get a refund on the remaining balances. There is a €2 charge per card, but even so I got €13 euros refunded per card. We got to keep the blank chipkaarts- “for next time you visit” said the ticket agent.

We did finally get to the Sky lounge- for lunch. The views are good and it was a nice farewell to Amsterdam.

We checked out of the Doubletree and walked our bags over to the Viking River cruise ship. Our staterooms were ready, so my wife stayed on board, while I took the free ferries across the IJ river to see NDSM, and look at the Eye film Museum (it was closed due to the national holiday), and the tourist trap, A ‘dam tower. I didn’t enter. The ferries were packed with people. I wore my mask. By 2 pm, the city was getting crowded. But it wasn’t packed with people as I was envisioning. I returned to the ship to begin Phase II of our 5 week vacation.

Posted by
1126 posts

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed report! This is all really helpful. I'm bookmarking to reference later for my trip in September, especially the restaurants you mentioned. I hope the Schiphol situation improves by then.

Posted by
283 posts

Thank you for sharing your time in Amsterdam with us. We spent just two days in Amsterdam at the end of our river cruise and obviously did not cover the ground that you did, but we did enjoy our time there.

Posted by
494 posts

What a great report! Kudos to you for figuring the OV Chip Card. I don't know why the NL makes it so difficult. And having to pay 7.50, non refundable, for the card is ridiculous. They could learn from Paris.
I've lived here for 4 years, and I don't bike in Amsterdam. These people are pros, usually on their was to work or school, and they don't appreciate the fools that wander into the bike paths. Or people that aren't really good bike riders. Even on the sidewalks, always check over your shoulder to make sure no one is coming up behind you on a bike.
Your report should be a must read for anyone planning on spending some time in the NL. You really did your research.

BTW, "hello" is very similar to the Dutch greeting of "hallo". If you said "good morning", they would have known right away you were an American.

Posted by
120 posts

Thank you for your "detailed, opinionated and personal experience report" on Amsterdam. It was a very entertaining read, chock-full of great information. We have three full days to spend in Amsterdam after our RS Adriatic trip, and I've bookmarked your report to avail ourselves of all your great tips.

Posted by
1952 posts

Great report -- can you comment some more on the open-curtains privacy habits you noticed in the local neighborhood?
Were the people living in those places where your windows are open to the public all wearing pajamas and housecoats and robes or were they just letting it all hang out, as-it-were?

Posted by
257 posts

What a great informative trip report!! It looks like you had a great time. A couple of remarks;
The Resistance Museum is indeed a great museum, but it’s closed until December for renovations.
In Amsterdam, Kingsday gets started a bit later in the morning. In cities like Utrecht things start earlier with people setting up their rummage sale very early in the morning.
I’m guessing Goff is a typo. Us Dutch pronounce it as Van Goggg with 2 very hard G’s.
The open curtains is indeed a Dutch thing that confuses and/or amuses foreign visitors. In general, people who have their curtains open will be fully dressed. No need to be worried for RLD type scenes.
With regards to the OV-chipkaart; even though it’s said you need a minimum balance of €20 to check in, in practice the barriers open with a lower balance too.

Posted by
7988 posts

Thank you for this fun and helpful trip report to one of my favorite places. We also used the OV chipkaart and had a positive experience.
Was your Viking cruise a success for you? I ask as you are an excellent independent traveler. We took one of their river cruises and didn’t have a good experience.

Posted by
2212 posts

Thank you so much for this report! Very helpful as we will spend 3 days in Amsterdam this July on our way to Africa.

Posted by
9906 posts

Thank you for taking the time to post! What a fun time you had and I love the details.

I'll add that my experience with the folks in the ticketseller booths on the trams is that they are very helpful if you can't figure things out. I like that others helped your wife tag out in the right spot. It was not 100% evident to me where to touch although I guess it should be because of the markings. BTW, I am from "Hicksville" and yes, I have learned to use public transit in Europe.

Posted by
2145 posts

Thanks for sharing . Will definitely Bookmark.
PS- How was the river cruise?
Safe travels.

Posted by
441 posts

Thank you for such a detailed and honest trip report. Sharing the "good, the bad, and the ugly" is way more helpful than just retelling the positive experiences. The practical tips and specific information will be invaluable to us when we are next in Amsterdam.
We would also love to hear about your Viking river cruise experience. We have only ever done one cruise- a Viking Ocean cruise. I doubt any company would have been a better fit for us for that sort of experience. The only downside was similar to your Hicksville experience, but ours had a more racist tone. There were a few people who arrogantly snapped fingers and shouted "Boy! Oh Boy!" when they needed something, or shouted at a food server "Why can't you speak better English?". Ugh.

Posted by
438 posts

Excellent trip report. Thanks. We were there in May, but only for a couple of days. We found it extremely uncomfortable because we felt like the two oldest people in the country. Sitting in a restaurant near Centraal, we did a small survey/observation. Of 100 people passing by, only 2 in 100 looked to be over 50. My husband was regularly jostled, if not pushed out of the way, on the street. Ditto on what you said about the airport, but there as well as in museums and at Keukenhof, staff were kind and very helpful with his being in a wheelchair.

Posted by
1885 posts

Great and detailed report...thank you!
I've only spent a few days in Amsterdam back in 2017, but loved it, and did a lot, just like you.
Hope the river cruise was good.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks for the great report on Amsterdam. We are going for a week in October 2023. This was very helpful. I copied some of your comments where they meshed with my plans.

Posted by
7988 posts

Excellent report Derek. You are an excellent independent traveler so I wonder how did you like your river cruise?