R. Craig Collins > Web Page Design > Portfolio > Amsterdam
Spring Break 2003, Amsterdam ©
R. Craig Collins, 2003/8
|Saturday, March 8|
|After picking up donuts at Shipley's, we headed out to DFW.
After having a little lunch at Chili's II, we found that our United flight to Chicago had been delayed, due to weather around O'Hare.
We were assured that all traffic would be delayed by an equal amount of
time, and that making our connection to Amsterdam would not be a problem.
Within an hour, we were on our way on the A319 Airbus, all of us sitting
in the A or B seats in a bloc, on the two seat side of the aisle.
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|As we were landing, , just before 6:00, the flight attendants started giving connecting flight information, and mentioned that our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:50! Sure enough, after running down terminal C, our flight had left. We checked in at the Customer Service desk, and they blamed the weather of course, which means they didn't have to do anything for us. The next flight to Amsterdam was not for 24 hours, and they had nothing to offer, at all. We finally convinced them to check other combinations, and finally they booked us on a flight to Heathrow, then connecting to Amsterdam via British Midlands. Since the wait was going to be fairly long, we asked for food vouchers, and after chipping in some of our own cash, got some Uno Pizzas and some bottled water.|
|We finally boarded our flight to London, and then promptly sat at the gate for almost an hour, while they continued to load cargo... ironic, isn't it? They hold the plane we were sitting on for 45-50 minutes, but couldn't hold our scheduled flight for 10 stinking minutes!|
|After a few hours in the air, we were served chicken and/or pasta for a
late meal. I thought the camembert cheese course was great, but no one
else seemed to care for it. The meal was topped of by an 'interesting'
cheesecake. During the night, I watched 'The Transporter' on the
personal video system about three times, as even in the seats with extra
leg room, I couldn't get to sleep. As before, we all sat on the two seat
side of the aisle of the , with the girls one row away.
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|Sunday, March 9|
|Just before landing in London, we were served pastry, granola, and a bag
of a 'strawberry Chex cereal.' After landing we had to go all the way
across the airport, taking about an hour of our 3 hour lay over to get to
the correct terminal. From there, we flew our A320 on the short hop to
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|We arrived at Schiphol about 3:00pm... 6 hours late. We collected our baggage, which we were relieved to find actually followed us across the continent, and purchased our 2nd class tickets for the train to Centraal Station. (€13,40) A young woman, who spoke prefect English, helped us find the correct platform since the signs only begin showing the train's scheduled placement about 5 minutes before they arrive. The trains have been recently privatized, and the locals complained about how they no longer were as punctual, so we waited until about 4:00 for the next windy weather delayed train. This meant we were too late to take in Muiderslot castle, as they were only open on weekends, and then only until 4:00.|
|Upon arriving at Centraal Station, we say a fire crew working around a track, where it seems someone had fallen into the track pit area. There were many emergency vehicles about, and a helicopter had landed out front, delaying all the busses and trams. While we waited for the mess to clear, we picked up our 3 day Amsterdam Passes at the Cafe '1e Klas', then picked up our dagkaart's (day passes for the trams for the remaining part of the trip) at the GVB across the way.|
|We finally boarded our tram, and rode down past the Dam, to the
Muntplein stop, just north of our hotel. The square is named after the old
Mint tower building.
After checking in just after 5:00 and getting used to the twin beds shoved together, the need to put the door key in a slot on the wall in order to turn on lights, and the fact that the shower was only divided from the rest of the bath by a short curtain, we decided to go explore the area toward Rembrandtplein. As in Edinburgh, we found most of the cafés close at 5:00 or turn into bars, and the remaining restaurants are very pricey. Just wanting a bite, not a meal, we pressed on. Finally, we ate at a little place with big pictures of the menu outside, called PizzaSteakhouse Rembrandt on a back street between the square and hotel. We shared Kip (broiled chicken), pizza, and Shourma, a lamb gyro for €16,00.
|Monday, March 10|
|Unlike London, Edinburgh and Brussels,
breakfast was not included at our hotel. Rather than pay the €11,00 per
head for breakfast, we struck out in search of sites and food. The
floating flower market is right beside the Munttoren, and we stopped and
explored for a bit.
Next, we rode the tram to Dam Square, and started walking up the street toward Centraal Station, looking for someplace open.
Very few places to eat were, even those advertising breakfast! It seems
inexpensive places are only open from 9 or 10 until 5:00! We gave up, and
dropped into an open air court McDonald's and spent a total of €9,00 for
muffins and juice. (We normally avoid places from home when we travel, but
looking for someplace open was getting ridiculous.)
After the visit, we got our first real looks at the canals.
We hopped back on a tram, and wound our way to Centraal Station, and walked across the the Victoria Hotel, and ate toasties, Amsterdam pickles, and cheese Broodje in the brasserie €21,00. From here we wandered down the damrak and it's great view of Centraal Station.
From here we went to the Oude Kerk, which sits in the red light district.
Oude Kerk, or Old Church, is the oldest building in Amsterdam, and the tight alleys, the sex shops, and the girls in the windows make for an interesting walk.
From here, we returned back to Damrak, got the girls some ice cream, and then took a bus tour of the city.
We started by driving past St. Nicholas church, the Weeping tour, NEMO, and the Sheevpaart Museum. Along the way we passed the Skinny Bridge, the Portuguese Synagogue, the Flea Market, Wester Kerk, the Jardaan, Museumplein, the Heineken center, the City Hall/Opera house, and Vondelpark. (The tour guide said that Heineken only uses canal water for one brand of beer now, export.) We toured a diamond factory, passed by the zoo, the Tropical Museum, the Botanical Garden, and stopped by a Windmill that is used by a brewery.
After the tour we went back to Dam Square and looked at the monument, and Town Hall, misnamed the Royal Palace.
Across the plaza is Nieuw Kerk, and the wax museum. We dropped back by the hotel, and ate dinner at an Irish pub on Rembrandtplein; I had bitterballen, and everyone else had patat (fries) and soup (€24,00). We took the tram back to Centraal Station, visited some more gift shops, got lots of chocolate
|Tuesday, March 11|
|To start our day, we ate 'breakfast' of apple pie and
chocolate cake at Los Latinos on Damrak (€20,00). The canal cruise line
was late opening, so we took the tram to the Rijksmuseum,
and were awed by the Dutch masters, the Dollhouse, the Dutch East India
history hall, and the architecture.
Along the way, we ate quiche and cheese in the Rijksmuseum café, followed of course by chocolate ( €17,70).
About 4:00 we headed back to the canal tour, and were amazed by wonderful houses, the bridges, and how well the skipper could point, and navigate.
For dinner, we at at a Pancake shop on the Single (€30,00), and shared uitmejters and pannekoek.
We then strolled the Rembrandtplein, got more chocolate, and acquired some muffins for breakfast for only €9,45 at Gary's... touted for breakfast, but doesn't open until noon!
|Wednesday, March 12|
|We ate our muffins in the hotel, then got some juice at
McDonald's while we waited for the Grand
Holland tour to begin. (€5,45)
We started the tour at Alsmeer, the largest flower auction in the world. The covered space is the size of 40 soccer fields, and though we missed the big displays of the first auctions (starting at 6:00), we were amazed.
|From Alsmeer we went to Delft. We started in one of the two
factories, then ate toasties at the town square, in the Willem van Oranje
café (€22,45). We looked in shops, and at the Staudhuis, their Nieuw
Kerk, and the Catholic Church just off the square. On the drive out, we
passed the Oosterport, the old twin towered gate house.
From Delft we went to Rotterdam, viewed the suspension bridge, and the modern architecture.
From Rotterdam, we went to the 'other capitol' of the Netherlands, the diplomatic station in The Hauge (Den Haag). We saw the Queen's office, the Houses of Parliament, and the Peace Palace, home of the World Court.
We then drove to the incredibly rough North Sea coast, and the resort at Scheveningen.
We also visited Madurodam, a collection of miniature buildings of the Netherlands. It was a great way to experience the whole of some of the buildings we had seen, as well as Muiderslot, our missed castle.
After touring some exclusive stand apart homes, we headed back and passed many, many windmills, still used to dry the land.
Back in Amsterdam, we stopped off at the hotel, and then sought out a café for dinner. The one we had in mind was now only selling beer, so we stumbled into an oriental/Indonesian Snackhouse, and had rice, sate with peanut sauce, cheese Broodje, and of course, patat. (€18,60)
On the walk back, we saw the Skinny bridge lit up, and stumbled by the formal garden at the back of the Willet-Holthuysen museum.
|Thursday, March 13|
|We bought souvenirs at the floating flower market, and then
rode up to the Terrace at the Victoria for muffins, €14,00. (PS Every
meal was also accompanied by coffee verkeerd, or with milk, when those who
drank coffee remembered to order it. The girls and I usually opted for
water.) We then went to the Museum
Amstelkring, a canal house with a hidden Catholic church in the
From there, we visited Nieuw Markt and de Waag, the oldest secular building in Amsterdam, a former gate house turned restaurant.
We had wonderful sandwiches ( €24,00) under hundreds of candles, and the girls picked up trinkets in the markt.
After lunch, we toured the Oude Kerk, and Gracie hopped over the tombs, trying to avoid them. This old building is now pretty stark, aside from the organ.
Then we walked past the Weeping Tower, and St. Nicholas church....
... and caught a scenic tram around, before actually getting to the scheepvaartmuseum, where we walked a reproduction Dutch East Indies Co. (VOC) sailing ship, and saw many relics of the VOC.
From there, we returned to the Willet-Holthuysen museum canal house, and really saw how the rich lived in the 16th and 17th centuries. The garden was even better from inside.
We had dinner back at our Irish pub with Fish and Chips, Cottage Pie, and our last set of patat. Then we finished our last day with another tram ride, a walk down to the dam, and Blond Dames (Ice cream with chocolate) at Arjentjn's. We bought our Connexxion bus tickets back to the airport (€42,00) to avoid lugging suitcases over trams and trolleys on a busy business day, and started the sad task of packing.
|Friday, March 14|
|After the bus ride, we ate breakfast at Nautilus Café in
the airport, (€18,00), and had sandwiches and ice cream on the 767
flight to Chicago.
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In O'Hare, we had to clear customs, drag our luggage to be re-screened, then wait on a train to terminal 1. Then we had to clear security, and arrived at our gate just prior to boarding. The flight back on the A320 was uneventful.
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After collecting our baggage at DFW, we decided it was a great airport, compared to Heathrow and O'Hare, and headed to Grapevine for Joe's Crab Shack to Start on Diane's birthday weekend, and Gracie's induction into the National Junior Honor Society.
To Diane's Pictures To Gracie's Pictures