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Netherlands - Travel Update

So, I couldn't post my travel update yesterday as the hotel Internet wasn't great and I had a really long tiring day. But here is what we did in our 2 days in Amsterdam.

Day 1:

  • Landed in Amsterdam at 8:20am on 26th Aug (yesterday)
  • Very odd weather for "summer", windy and cold and a bit of rain, looked more like early winter weather (based on Boston winters that is.. maybe its common to be this way). The point is though, its good to pack at least a thin sweater and a windcheater with a cap for the rain.
  • The hotel (Hotel Manofa) is a hotel with a huge number of stairs and no elevator at all. To get to the first floor where the rooms were, you had to climb at least 20 stairs, which was a disaster. The guys there had my room on the fourth floor ( :( ) but after requesting he moved it down to the 2nd floor, which was still awful with its narrow, winding spiral staircase, but better.
  • The room was pretty bad and I didn't like the guy asking for money as soon as we checked in. The door didn't have a double lock, it had a huge window that looked directly into the kitchen of another house, and seemed really tiny for a triple room. Lots of other tiny problems, but I'll leave that for Yelp someday :(.
  • Breakfast was at a non-veg steak house downstairs, so I couldn't eat there either.
  • Anyway we left our luggage at the hotel and went off to Bloemnmarkt and spent 2 hours just browsing that entire street. Mom in particular loved the huge number of flowers that were on display everywhere.
  • Had lunch and then Mom and me went to Max Euwe Plain and watched a few people playing chess on the street. That was pretty unique too.
  • Did plenty of tram travel (2 day card for 12 Euro is very very affordable, buy it as soon as you land in Amsterdam). Dad went off on his own little "tram tour", just getting in and out of trams and coming back to Centraal eventually.
  • We tried to book tickets for Anne Frank's tour online but they were sold out till Sep 8 (14 days in advance). That was a big disappointment as Mom had badly wanted to see the museum. So we then at least decided to go over to the museum and look at the exterior, before meeting Dad again at Centraal. On looking at the line though, I decided to stand and make an attempt at least to get tickets. Gave Mom directions to meet Dad at Centraal while I stood in line (it took about an hour and 15 minutes), by which time Mom returned with Dad in tow. All 3 of us visited Anne Frank - a very sobering story of a little girl and reminded everyone how terrible concentration camps were.
  • Headed back to the hotel then as Dad's knee was very bad by now. I went off to Terazen vegan cafe to get some food. Food was pretty good, just that I had a small argument with the chef about some money issues and he claimed I was insulting his honesty. Anyway it all got sorted out in the end.
  • Ate dinner and slept early. Had a pretty rough day frankly, although... we did manage to see quite a few things.
Posted by
137 posts

Day 2:

  • All of us slept really well yesterday. Bodies frankly needed it.
  • Got up at 9. Changed hotel rooms to the 1st floor so it became a little easier for Dad.
  • Headed off to Zaanse Schans. Caught 391 from Amsterdam Centraal and it reached Zaanse Schans in an hour. The bus ride was a nice one and Dad complemented the driver.
  • We spent 3-4 hours in the village, going into various shops and little parks and gardens and workshops and windmills. We went into the paint making windmill - it was quite nice to learn how paint used to be made and see how a windmill works.
  • Had lunch, some delicious juice, spent some more time in all the bits that we hadn't seen and headed back by the same bus.
  • The conclusion is that it's a nice day trip overall, but definitely not more than a day. I fyou look around it really quickly, and have an early start to the day - it's possible to finish it in a few hours and head back to Amsterdam to do something else.
  • We all went back to the hotel. I booked a canal cruise at 9:00pm for 13.50 euros per head. I got the distance from where the tram stopped and the canal bus ride slightly wrong, meaning Dad had to run a bit at the end. We reached in time though - and the cruise was quite nice (Lovers evening cruise).
  • The hotel had a ridiculous policy of not having food in your rooms. Yesterday we violated it, as there was no way I could drag Mom and Dad out again for food in the night - they were too tired. Today we just ate at Amsterdam Central station.
  • The tram stops change in the night for some reason and go down a different route which caused Dad to panic a lot despite me trying to calm him down. In the end, I managed to find my way back though and all is well that ends well, except that I'm on the edge most days.

Anyway its 12:30am as I write this and we have to catch a train at 6:18 in the morning to Paris. Paris is nearly 5 days though, which means I can take things a little more slowly and learn from the mistakes that I have made throughout the trip.

Posted by
2788 posts

I spent 5 nights in Amsterdam in June of this year for a third time visit. I stayed at a great B&B that I found in RS guide book. Sorry you had so many annoying problems. If I may ask, where did you get the Hotel Manofa recommendation? I did not see it in RS book. So many places we stay when we go to Europe every summer, mostly being B&B's, do not have elevators and many have too many steep stairs. I always try to ask when making my reservations about that. Not having one is not a deal killer but if they do not have one, I want a room on the lowest floor guaranteed. Hope you enjoy Paris. charlie

Posted by
252 posts

I do not mean to be impolite at all. But if ''climbing'' 20 stairs is a may not have easy trips in your future.
If a lift or elevator is a super important priority, you should check before renting rooms. You are visiting Europe and many hôtels in older buildings do not have them. I am the time of person who will take the stairs even if there is an elevator...but we are all different.

And as for rain...well, Amsterdam ain't California so you should have done some research as well.
And anyway, weather is unpredictable. A city should not be judged by the weather and a traveller should be prepared rain or shine I think. I am glad to you seem to have enjoyed a couple of activities including canal cruise in Amsterdam since I think it is a beautiful city.

Bon voyage à Paris! Enjoy your next leg!

Posted by
9722 posts

It has been lovely reading your reports. Your parents must be very proud of the good care you are taking of them.

I feel for your Dad's knee.
Indeed, those stairs in Holland are steep! I remember bringing my mother-in-law there, who found it difficult, even after living in a Parisian fourth-floor walk-up most of her adult life.

Northern Europe can go from hot to cool and drizzle quickly in summer due to the North Atlantic. The same is true in Paris. Glad you were prepared.

Posted by
25 posts

Charlie, what's the great B & B in Amsterdam that you went to in June?

Posted by
137 posts

Thanks Bets :). I am glad you like them.

@Charlie: No, I didn't use any of RS's recommendations but searched for the lowest priced hotels that were stayable, from my parents perspective. This worked well for London, Brussels and France but Netherlands did not work that well. It was just about okay..but I won't be staying there again. It was my mistake that I did not plan the elevator problems - I assumed they would be there :( . Lesson learned.

@Val: Thanks for your feedback. The problem is that Dad has arthritis and 20 stairs for him is a big deal. Of course I do understand what you mean though, but we have managed ok so far. I wasn't complaining about anything else really - just stating my experiences. I enjoyed Amsterdam overall :) and come away with a good impression of the country. Thanks for your wishes.

Posted by
5182 posts

The weather this August was affected by the path of ex hurricane Bertha as it arrived across the Atlantic. This kinked the jet stream southwards and led to unseasonably cold weather in many parts of northern Europe.

Ex hurricane Cristobal looks like reversing this to some extent although the air isn't quite as warm as it might have been.

Posted by
11294 posts

" It was my mistake that I did not plan the elevator problems - I assumed they would be there"

I know you said "lesson learned," but this issue is so important for anyone else reading that I want to emphasize the following:

1) If a hotel does not say on their website that they have an elevator, assume they don't. Or e-mail them to check directly.

2) Even if they have an elevator, it may not start at the ground floor, and it may not go up to the top. I have repeatedly had to climb stairs (sometimes just a few, other times whole flights) to get to the elevator, and once i had to climb one flight past the elevator's last floor to get to my room. So, if you need to have stairs-free access from the ground floor to your room, you must make SURE this exists in any hotel you are considering.

3) "Stairs" in Holland more closely resemble ladders - they are VERY steep, with short treads. Therefore, they can be problematic even for people who do not have issues with stairs elsewhere. My mother has a phobia about steep stairs with narrow treads, and when I went to Holland, I saw it through her eyes. She would have been miserable, even though she's quite fit.

4) Even more than in other European cities, many hotels in Amsterdam do not have elevators, and have an explanation on their website that they cannot install one due to restrictions on putting them in old buildings. So if you need an elevator in Amsterdam, you need to be more than usually careful in booking accommodation.

Posted by
17 posts

Back in late June 2014, I stayed at the WestCord Art Hotel Amsterdam 3 Star which is located in the Westerpark District of Amsterdam on the edge of the harbor. It's 2 kilometers to the city centre. It is about US$110 a night. I took Bus #22 or #48 from Amsterdam Centraal (Central Station) and arrived in 20 mins. A great hotel with lots of artworks in the hotel and in the room. I stayed on the 2nd floor - quiet and nice. 2 computers in the lobby with a printer. There is a charge of $16 city tax when we checked out. I recommended this place.

Posted by
864 posts

We did a Vacation Rental by Owner (there are many sites to choose from) and got a fantastic apartment overlooking a canal (well the building did but our windows looked sideways into other buildings). The apartment was on the top floor and it was like looking up at the stairway to heaven. Steep - goodness and the treads were so narrow you kinda went up sideways. The web site was very clear about steep stairs as were the comments by people who had stayed there before. Still, it was thought provoking to contemplate it in person. We took up our stuff relay fashion and when leaving I'd toss packing cubes down from one landing to the next for my husband to catch. We laughed till we cried. It was a great place to stay and we got to know our hosts. I'm 64 with a bad knee so I took it slow. If my knee gets seriously worse I'll have to take vetting places with that in mind. Researching our accommodations made the whole thing not only enjoyable but stress free. Putting in some real effort researching accommodations, line beating tips etc. makes a trip much more enjoyable. When I took my 70 something Mother to Paris I made sure no stairs were included in our accommodations, took taxis instead of the metro and so forth. She had a great time. Loved those cafes! Snails - can we have more of these? Why does their coffee tastes weird? Oh, well....