Just returned from our first trip to the Netherlands and had a great time. I received some helpful tips and information when planning our trip from the other forum members here and wanted to say thank you again for helping make our trip a great success! I like to write so buckle in for a long report!
Our trip breakdown: 2 nights Hoorn, 5 nights Amsterdam, 3 nights Leiden. We flew Delta in and out of Schiphol, arriving shortly after 6 am on a Thursday morning.
Our lodging: Ysbrantsz Boutique Hotel in Hoorn, the Highland House in Amsterdam, and Steenhof Suites in Leiden. Ysbrantsz was great. The best thing about the Highland House was that it was very central with a boutique atmosphere and a good price. The not so great? That it was very central in an area that was neither quiet or charming. Our room faced an alley and when our windows were open, we would sometimes smell marijuana from those smoking it there. We also had a basement room that had unpleasant odors coming from the floor drain and it was more humid. The room itself was a nice size and clean and comfortable. Our breakfast was in their sister hotel across the street, which was torn up from road construction and the path through the construction changed each morning. While I think the Highland House is a perfectly acceptable choice for a first stay in Amsterdam, if I had it to do over again, I think I would try the Max Brown Canal District Hotel instead, which was a similar price at the time of our booking. I think we would have preferred that area more and while it would have not been quite as central, it would have been just fine. Now for the Steenhof Suites - this was our favorite hotel of our stay! The bed was one of the most comfortable beds we have ever slept in traveling and the shower was incredible - so much pressure and so hot and steamy. Now it sounds like a romance novel, lol. It was a bit of a walk from the train station, but it was a great hotel.
Technology: this was the first international trip that I tried utilizing an e-sim card on my phone. I didn’t figure it out perfectly, but it did everything that I really needed it to do at a fraction of the cost of utilizing the Verizon international plan that I have used in the past when I absolutely had to access data on my phone without wi-fi. I purchased 3 GB of data through Airalo for $6 using a referral code before our trip. I never figured out how to get it to work for phone calls or texts without iMessage, but I was able to access all my apps, the internet, email, and messages via iMessage, What’s App, or Messenger. Using the NS app was especially helpful as I could figure out what trains where leaving when from what platform, all while walking to the train station. If you’re interested in trying it and want to earn me some referral cash, you can utilize code “JULIE7698” when registering.
Now on to the good stuff, our actual trip!!
Day 1: I have never seen an airport so quiet upon arrival. There was no queue at immigration; it literally took a minute or two and we were through and ready to catch our train to Hoorn. We purchased our tickets at a self-kiosk and we were off. Arriving at our hotel so early in the morning, we were obviously not able to check in. So, we dropped our luggage off, freshened up in their toilet, and walked back to the train station in Hoorn to catch the train to Enkhuizen for the Zuiderzee open-air museum.