Amsterdam is an easy destination to get to from almost every airport in the UK, so despite my family being spread over London, Cheshire and Yorkshire it was still fairly easy to organise a weekend for our son’s 21st for seven of us consisting of an age range of 20-67.
KLM will shortly be introducing a new service from Manston in Kent to add to the many services they have already
We had intended to arrive earlier from Heathrow but unfortunately our flight was delayed an hour and a half so in fact we didn’t arrive until evening. From Amsterdam Schipol airport, there is a fast train which takes 15 mins into Centraal Station and costs 8.30 euros return
We booked the Botel, firstly because it was cheap and secondly because we thought it would be a bit of a novelty. Botel used to be near Centraal Station but it has since moved to NDSM Wharf on the other side of the IJ river. The ferry to NDSM wharf leaves from the back of Centraal Station every 15 mins from Monday to Saturday daytime and half hourly at night and on Sundays. The last ferry is at 0045 and after that there is a 24 hour service to another port a bit further along and then there is a shuttle bus, so whatever happens you won’t be stranded. To get to the ferry turn left from the back of Centraal Station and it is the last ferry along The ferry is free and wasn’t any more inconvenient then perhaps going a few stops on a bus or metro
Botel as expected is quite basic, but still better than many of the smaller B&B’s in the centre of town. There is free wi-fi, a bar, breakfast room and an in room safe. The bathroom is very tiny but the bedroom is a good size and quite comfortable. The sunsets across the IJ on both nights were spectacular. There is a bar boat and restaurant opposite and another bar/restaurant with a childrens’ play area round the corner by the ferry so even though Botel isn’t in the centre of town it isn’t completely cut off from civilisation either.
We sampled a few bars in the centre of town, some better than others. All of them were very friendly and welcomed us with open arms
Breakfast on Botel is adequate, but quite meaty on the whole. There was a scramble for the croissants which disappeared like magic every time a basket of them appeared
We took the ferry over on a cold, crisp, sunny day to Centraal Station. We had planned to visit Anne Frank House but were unable to do so as the queues were so long. I would strongly suggest booking before you leave to guarantee entry. We walked down Damrak which is the main shopping street of Amsterdam, past Dam Square which had a funfair over the weekend.
We headed towards the flower market which has many tulips and other beautiful bulbs of every possible colour and also many different varieties of cannabis seed for the Dutch back garden. Needless to say these cannot be bought back to the UK! There are also many shops selling Gouda, furry clog slippers and woolly hats
The Van Gogh Museum is temporarily inside the Hermitage museum along with the Impressionists. On some dates the 17.50 euro ticket covers both museums and on other dates a 15.00 euro ticket only covers Van Gogh. Our ticket was a double one and both museums were very interesting with original works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Gaugin and Cezanne. I love Van Gogh’s paintings and the museum houses many of the lesser known paintings which we hadn’t previously seen
We noticed a nice pub near Dam Square called the Old Bell so we stopped for lunch before heading back to Centraal Station. We strolled along Singel which has those tall skinny houses that are so characteristic of the city. We had to rush back as we had booked a restaurant for the evening. I chose Max in Jordaan for my son’s special birthday meal as it has a good write up on Trip Advisor and it does Indonesian and European food and caters for vegetarians. The menu is limited but fresh, perfectly cooked and presented and very tasty. Everyone really enjoyed their meal but the restaurant is overcrowded and claustrophobic and the ambience isn’t quite right. Afterwards we walked through parts of the Red Light District before finding a nice bar close to Centraal Station so we could time our ferry back.
On Sunday morning it was a little bit showery and we all decided that after many miles of walking around on Saturday, a nice leisurely canal boat ride would be a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours and indeed it was. We took the museum route on the Lover’s cruise past the Ann Frank House which still had a huge queue, Rijksmuseum, the Science museum and the clipper ship.
We had time for a couple of Amstel beers before heading for the airport but finding a not too crowded bar was difficult as the Ajax v Feynoord match was on. This is the Dutch equivalent of Chelsea v Man Utd but in the end we found a bar virtually opposite Centraal Station
We would love to go back to Amsterdam in late spring or summer. There is so much more there than the famous red light district and coffee shops. It is a lovely city to walk around with lovely walks along the canal and there was plenty to suit all of us, so whether you are young or old, whether you prefer bars or culture, backpacking or deluxe hotels, Amsterdam has it all .
If you would like to arrange a stag or hen weekend, or just a quiet weekend for two call me on 0845 058 7458 and I would be happy to arrange it for you.