Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Amsterdam, Netherlands is one of our favorite destinations.

Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam in the Netherlands?  When I plan a trip I like to get a feel for the locale; to see the streets and buildings where I will be travelling. To do that, I spend a lot of time on Google maps, especially the street view. I hope you find value in my visit to Amsterdam.

If you plan to take a Rhine River cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, most will fly into Zurich International Airport and take a bus or train to Basel to start the cruise. If you plan on starting your cruise in Amsterdam, you will generally fly into Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam. Most of the river cruise companies offer, at an extra cost, a pre-trip or post-trip vacation at either Amsterdam or Zurich/Lucerne.

When we did our Rhine River Cruise a couple years ago we flew into Zurich International Airport and spent a couple of days there to get over our jet lag before taking the train to Basel to start the tour. Of course, we ended our cruise in Amsterdam, arriving on Mother’s Day. Since we arrived by river boat, we will discuss arrival at Amsterdam by way of the river first then talk about arrival via the airport. If you happen to be taking the river cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, you may want to check out our page on Zurich were we talk about our visit to Zurich.

We wanted to get there by Mother’s Day so that we could still have a chance to see the fields of tulips in bloom in and around Keukenhof Gardens. Usually by late April or early May, they are already beginning to dead head the tulips to increase the size of the bulbs. They are, of course, growing them so that they can sell the bulbs, not for the wonderful show that they provide. As you can see in the field below, they only have the red ones and off in the distance, the yellow ones to deadhead.

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Tulip fields near Keukenhof Gardens
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Lillies in bloom inside a large room at Keukenhof Gardens

If you were wondering about the weather, yes it was cool when we were there. Keep in mind that Amsterdam is north of the US. It is even north of Vancouver, BC and north of Newfoundland.  When you consider that, of course you would expect it to be cool when compared to where we live in Sacramento.  Here is the link for their weather.

On our trip, we stayed in the Hotel Die Port Van Cleve. It was a great central location in an historic hotel. I will talk a little more about getting to our hotel after I talk a little more about getting from the dock to the Centraal Station.

It is just a 4-5 block walk from the Central Station in Amsterdam. Keep in mind that there are two major train stations in Amsterdam so if you are flying in and taking the train from the airport, make sure you get a ticket for the correct station. As you will see if you open the link for the Central Station, there is a gold star where the hotel is located. When you walk out the front of the Central Station, you will see the local blue and white trams. If you look past the trams, you will see the Victoria Hotel. If you have decided to walk, you can cross the street here, turn right in front of the Victoria Hotel and walk to the next street. Turn left and walk to the hotel. After you turn, stay to the left on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, following the tracks. If you choose not to walk, but to jump on one of the blue and white trams, you will want to look for number 1 or 2, or 5, or 13 or 17.

We arrived at the dock just a few hundred feet from the Amsterdam Centraal Station. Depending upon which river cruise you are taking, you may end up at one of 4 different docking areas. In Amsterdam, river cruise vessels usually dock behind the Amsterdam Centraal Station along a street called De Ruyterkade. This is a live Google Map Street View Picture. Click on it and you will be taken to Google so that you can look around at the view.

DeRuyterkade
View towards Amsterdam Centraal Station                                                                                                                             Map data ©2015 Google

You can follow the sidewalk/bicycle path or you can walk along the waterfront to the back side of the station, cross through the building and exit in the center of the city. Alternatively, the ship may be docked at Veemkade or Javakade. Veemkade is located behind the Central Station to the left, or at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam (PTA). Javakade is located past the PTA and across the bridge. Please refer to your cruise voucher for the exact location.

If you walk from your ship to the Amsterdam Centraal Station, or anywhere else in Amsterdam, please watch out for the bicyclists. They will run you down if you don’t move out of their way. Be especially watchful when you step from the tram or cross the road. They generally have their own lane and they are usually moving pretty fast.

RouteFromDockToCentralStationToHotel
Map showing boat docs and pathway to central station.                                                                                                    Map data ©2015 Google

 

However you get there, make sure to have a look at the Amsterdam Centraal Station. What a beautiful sight to see. From there, we had the option of  walking or taking the tram to our hotel. In this view you can also see that it shows the B Tram stop. This is the stop for tram numbers 1, 2, 5, 13 & 17. These are the trams that can take you to the hotel where we stayed. If you want to take the tram, just buy a ticket inside the station and jump on the next available tram cued up at the B Tram sign.

AmsterdamCentralStationStreetView
View from the front of Amsterdam Centraal Station.                                                                                                              Map data ©2015 Google

We chose to walk to our hotel.  If you are staying at the same place and if you have decided to walk, you can face away from the Centraal Station, cross the street here, turn right in front of the Victoria Hotel and walk to the next street. Turn left and walk to the hotel. After you turn to the left, stay on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, following the tracks.

VictoriaHotelAmsterdam
View of Victoria Hotel from Amsterdam Centraal Station.                                                                                                Map data ©2015 Google

If you have followed the tracks, you will pass a couple of tram stations and find yourself getting close to buildings pictured below. The orange colored one is the hotel.

TramStopAtVanCleveHotel
Dam/Raadhuisstraat Tram Stop at Die Port Van Cleve Hotel.                                                                                       Map data ©2015 Google

You were probably wondering about the castle next to the hotel. That is a shopping center. The ugly squared off modern building in the distance is the grocery store. There is a bar in the ground floor of the white building to the right. There is also a bar in Die Port Van Cleve hotel as well.

If you were to turn around where this photo was captured, you will see a skinny little street/alley called Gravenstraat, that is full of shops. Walk through and check out the place. Amsterdam is full of these wonderful streets and alleyways. As you can see on the map below, across the street from the hotel is the De Nieuwe Kerk church. Take a walk down the street, Mozes en Aaronstraat to the open square. Click on the map and then move the little yellow google man to any of the blue circles in the square to get a view of the area.

CloseupMapAroundVanCleve
Map around Dam Square.                                                                                                                                                         Map data ©2015 Google

The photo below shows the Dam Square at night. Click on it and have a look around.

DamSquareAtNight
Dam Square at Night                                                                                                                                                                      Map data ©2015 Google

Other than just these sights, there are may other things to see in Amsterdam. Of course, we took a day trip to Keukenhof Gardens and a canal cruise around the central city. There are dozens of other sights such as the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, etc…

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Keukenhof Gardens

Check out the sights to see by clicking on the banner below then enter Netherlands as the country and Amsterdam for the city, the dates you will be there and click Go for a list of various activities that you can book on your own.

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If you are flying into Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, the info below will help get you to downtown Amsterdam for your vacation in Amsterdam or to start your river cruise.

Transport From Amsterdam Airport

A direct link railway line connects Schiphol International Airport with Amsterdam Central Station, and is the fastest and most convenient form of transport to the city centre. Trains run every 10 minutes from Platforms 1 and 2 in the main arrival plaza (see the airport train schedule).

Through the following link you can buy tickets online and avoid complications.
Amsterdam train tickets from airport to city

Or you may use any major credit card to pay at the special yellow ticket machines within the airport, but machines don’t provide instructions in English and accept only coins. Fine of €35 will be added to the fare if you are caught without a valid ticket on the train.

Money

You may want to get to get some Euros before you leave home.  You may be able to get Euros from your bank. This is especially important if you are paying cab fare where the driver will expect you to pay with Euros.  You can use your ATM or credit card to buy tickets from most machines at the train station. If you don’t get any Euros before you leave home, use your ATM cards at a bank when you arrive. You don’t want to get Euros from an exchange kiosk because they will overcharge you for the service. Also, when you leave Europe to go home, don’t waste your money exchanging your Euros for Dollars at the exchange kiosk. Save them for your next trip. You will want to go back.

euro_bills           Euro_coins

Also, many places in Europe do not use the swipe and sign process for credit cards or ATM cards that we do in the US. They use the chip and pin system, so make sure that your ATM cards and credit cards are the new chip enabled cards and make sure that you have set your pin number. Generally, the bank will assign a pin when they send you the new cards. If you want to change the pin to one that you will remember, you have to do that at a terminal that will accept the chip card and one that wants the pin, not one where the cashier will want to swipe it and get your signature.

Most Walmart stores have the chip enabled machines in the self check out section of their stores. Take your ATM card to Walmart, pick up a candy bar or snack or some other small purchases and use your new chip enabled cards one at a time for each purchase so that you can reset the pin in each card. and hopefully you have the pin set up because many places do chip and pin technology rather than swipe or chip and signature. Let me know if you need any more info on this issue.

If you are ready to book a trip, just let me know. I will need your travel info. You can go directly to my forms page at http://jackstraveltips.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/client_reservation_form_v1.pdf to fill out the form and email it to me and I will get things going for you.