paxview

A frequent flier's views on flying & the aviation world

Walking in Amsterdam

I got lucky at the end of May and was sent on a business trip to Amsterdam. OK, I admit that I did not complain or try to avoid this trip. Would I go on a quick trip to Amsterdam at the end of May? Attend some meetings, listen to some presentations, do some University stuff, give a short talk as an invited speaker, read some technical proposals? Absolutely! Never mind it is a 10-11 hour flight (each way IAH AMS) in coach, as that just means a bit longer for the pre-flight rituals at the airline clubs in IAH and in AMS.

I left Houston on a Saturday afternoon and landed at Amsterdam Schiphol on Sunday morning, and it was COLD. A storm had come in off the North Sea with cold weather, rain and wind. But I didn’t care, as soon as I could get to my hotel and check-in I was going to start walking and exploring, and with this weather I could walk miles and not be sweating. Don’t laugh… yeah. You can predict what happened. I froze. And got soaked.

ADam Schiphol

AMS Schiphol

I was staying at the Hotel Movenpick, which is a very nice and ‘functional’ Swiss chain. Neat, tidy, efficient. Not a lot of soft and fuzzy or warm touches, but very Swiss, and extremely popular with the cruise ship tourists. Also an easy 15 minute waterfront walk to Centraal train station, and from there by foot or tram to city center and the Royal plaza. The hotel concierge was very helpful, and along with a great free map he also was able to sell day passes for the trams, which (considering the weather) I should have bought on that first day. But I figured it was already afternoon and I’d just walk. OK, not smart. By the end of the day I was soaked down to my underwear (I bought day passes after that!)

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Movenpick Hotel

Amsterdam is a GREAT walking city, and the hop on/off daily tram pass is money well spent, because your feet will get tired. By the way, there really is no language barrier in Amsterdam. It seems that everyone (and I do mean everyone) can switch and flip between English, French, German, and Dutch. Often in mid-sentence! The languages there, like the people and their bikes, just flow fluid and easy, and you will have no problems communicating. Or dining. The food is just great.

Lamb, salmon, and mussels for lunch… then white and green asparagus dinner menu.

What follows below is a quick photo tour, with some brief descriptions for each photo or location.

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Tulips in the spring? Are you kidding me?? Everywhere! And each display or bed I saw was more beautiful than the last one. But some displays achieve elegance by just being incredibly simple.

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Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, right up by the Royal square and impossible to miss.

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The Royal palace itself, and the square in front of it is a nonstop mecca for people watching and performance artists. This day it was rather cold and empty, but on a return visit later in the week, it was sunny and full of action.

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Probably as typical as any other photo of the tight streets and colorful alleys in Amsterdam

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I stopped counting cheese stores and varieties. And by my 3rd day I stopped eating any more free samples. Too much good cheese!

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Need to balance the cheese? Try some good hot ‘frites’, or “French Fries” with toppings that range from mayonnaise, to cheese, to spicy curry. Go radical and try ones with Indonesian “sate” peanut sauce. (very good!!)

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Sex shops, brothels, sex museums, the museum of prostitution… Yes it is all there in Amsterdam. But the “frites” and the local beer are more popular, and better for you!

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And head shops, marijuana, and all the other stuff I gave up in the 1970’s… chuckle

But it is an old city, much of it from the 1600’s, and many interesting small bars dating back that far. Here are two from 1618 1and 1619.

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If it was a sunny warm day I would find myself a seat at this canal side bar, and never leave

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Unless of course it was to walk a few more blocks to see architecture like this on another canal corner

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Grasshopper restaurant

My nephew recommended this restaurant, and I now agree with him. I felt like I was “right at home”

Maybe the best schnitzel I have had in years, along with a simple salad, and these frites came with a smooth garlic mayo sauce for dipping. All of it washed down with a local beer: Heineken

Woke up the next morning to see this next sight right out of my hotel window…

ADam Koningsdam

Koningsdam

The newest and one of the largest passenger cruise ships in the world; The Koningsdam on her maiden voyage, on her way back from Rotterdam, where she was formally christened and entered into passenger service by Her Majesty Queen Máxima.

No joke – one of the nicest “Irish” bars not in Ireland. This is canal side on Oudezijds Kolk, and a truly friendly staff. “Craic” is an odd Gaelic word that doesn’t translate well. A purist will tell you it means good times, cheer, fun, chat, and friends. I translate “Craic” as that feeling you get while going on a date with the hot girl down the street, or finding a $50 bill floating in the breeze. That’s “Craic”. Of course how I was treated in this bar was not influenced by the black Guinness cap from Dublin I was wearing that day… No, not at all influenced… lol

After a few days of real work, there was an opportunity for an afternoon bus trip just north of Amsterdam to a historical village called “Zaanse Schans” (The old fort) showing Dutch life at the pinnacle of their historical prominence in the mid/late 1600’s. It is a short ride from Amsterdam, everything is on foot, and really worth a visit. Especially if you get a good tour guide.

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Zaanse Schans

If I had to describe the Netherlands in 1 photo: A photo of these 3 windmills over a field might be it…

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And the colors are so vibrant, the Royal orange especially. You see it everywhere, it is the symbol of the ruling family, the House of Orange, as common here as red and blue are in the UK.

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The houses that are not shops are inhabited. A minimal rent, but you have to keep the grounds tidy.

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Because of the Netherland’s damp ground & soil before streets (and sidewalks) were paved, traditional wooden shoes lasted longer than leather ones. #Fact

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Really a nice area to explore by walking and to learn a bit more about the canals and the old technology (windmills !!) that was used to drain the water and build up the country.

On Wednesday night I was invited to join a dinner harbor cruise aboard one of the oldest ships in the Netherlands, the Prins van Oranje, which was built the same year as the Titanic. An early evening & nighttime cruise around Amsterdam, out from the city to Ijmeer and Markermeer, which are two of the bodies of water that connect Amsterdam to the North Sea. The ship itself is simply opulent.

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Prins Van Oranje

Both on the outside

And on the inside…

Wow. Really a great way to tour away from the city center

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Amsterdam Canal

Friday, my last day in Amsterdam was an amazingly clear, sunny, and warm day. Perfect late spring, and everyone in the city was out enjoying the sunshine. The canals really draw a crowd on days like this.

Venice, Stockholm, Amsterdam, and San Antonio. Some cities defined by their canals.

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Death Smoker Amsterdam

This performance artist would walk up behind people smoking in the Royal square… As an ex-smoker I could have watched him “scare” some sense into people for hours…

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Quirky architecture, often due to the ground settling underneath the weight of some buildings

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White church spire Amsterdam

There is a phrase “eye candy”, and it really describes Amsterdam on a sunny day

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Amsterdam Windmill

Just a random scenery snapshot on the way to the Dutch Maritime museum

“ScheepAart” isn’t Sheep art, it’s “Ship Art”, Maritime museum

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Dutch-boy artwork

The original (?) little Dutch Boy…

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OK, tourist trap… But it was on my way to an afternoon coffee meeting. Really! It was on my way.

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On my way here to the VondelPark3 café, on the Northern edge of the amazing Vondel Park

This is where I met the author of this new book with stories about some of Amsterdam’s restaurateurs. And we discovered the two of us share some history both in Detroit, and with family roots in Poland.

ADam Flavors

Flavors of Life

Hey, it’s a good book. And now I know the author!!! Buy it !!

I wanted to visit the Van Gogh museum, but the lines were too long. The weather was too good.

But on the museum grounds is a nicely designed outdoor park. One of dozens in the city.

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Sir Albert hotel, Amsterdam

The quote is from Benjamin Disraeli, a British PM in the 1870’s

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Heineken Experience, amsterdam

The source of the beer, home of Heineken, but I’m not waiting that long in line even for free beer.

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Tour the city, drink beer, eat, and exercise all at the same time. Interesting idea…

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Amsterdam Centraal station

Amsterdam Centraal, the main train station and terminus for many tram and bus routes. I used a polarizing filter to deepen the blue sky and make the building colors ‘pop’ for this photo.

And now a confession… I did it… I went on a city canal tour by boat. Totally tourist… But the weather was perfect.

Everybody is out enjoying the sun, drinking, having a great time.

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A photo a minute… Easily. And on the canal tour boat I took they have headphone jacks with an audio guide in about 10 languages so you know what you are looking at.

Heading down another canal, after we all heard the audio, the mood got quiet…

Tourists at the Anne Frank house where the line is long, but the experience worth it.

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Westerkerk church, Amsterdam

The bells of Westerkerk church are almost next door, and she wrote about hearing them…

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Amsterdam Harbor

Out and into the harbor, the long dome on the right is Amsterdam Centraal, the Movenpick hotel is just out of frame to the left.

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This bar (and BBQ joint) got my attention. 750 beers? Even at 2 a day I’d be there a year. Love it!!

But all good things must end…

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My return flight is coming in from Houston

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And time to say Bye-Bye once again to the pretty birds of Schiphol.

Wrapping it up: Amsterdam is a truly great city to explore without the expense or bother of renting a car. It is foot-friendly, and the food, the history, the architecture, and the people are just fantastic.

Hope you enjoyed this photo tour – and let me know what it is about Amsterdam that you love.

JR

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4 comments on “Walking in Amsterdam

  1. erikastravels
    June 19, 2016

    Glad you enjoyed your time in Amsterdam. It is such a great and walkable city! The cheese shops are everywhere and amazing, you can get anywhere by bike and communication barriers are nonexistent. What’s not to love?

    Like

    • jlroehr
      June 19, 2016

      What’s not to love?
      That I didn’t have more time, that it wasnt so far away, that… lol.
      Just love it there, has always been a favorite city. First visit was ~1972.

      Like

  2. derekcooks
    June 20, 2016

    Nice photo tour write-up! I found the people the most amazing. Educated, interested, vocal, friendly.

    Like

    • jlroehr
      June 20, 2016

      The ease with with the locals switch languages… Although not unusual in Europe, is just so fluid & effortless here.

      Like

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