The seven and half hour overnight flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam wasn’t bad at all. Delta now works with partners Air France, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The Atlanta airport has one runway out of commission for construction so things are running quite late both coming into Atlanta and departing. As such, a good number of folks booked from Atlanta To Paris, France missed their flight. They were offered a choice – they could fly Atlanta to London then on to Paris, or Atlanta to Amsterdam and then on to Paris. So my flight to Amsterdam was a full plane.
Amsterdam Schipol Airport is major transit point – a guy sitting across the aisle was picking up a flight to Damman, Saudi Arabia, near the Persian Gulf. He was from Oklahoma and was working on an oil rig. The guy in my row was from Atlanta but he was headed to Tel Aviv, Israel. Finally the woman sitting next to me was booked on to Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. We were in Row 11 – so we got off the plane rather quickly.
You just follow the yellow signs toward Luggage Pickup and Arrivals Hall. Of course Passport Control came before the rest. Only had to wait for two people at the Passport checkpoint. A breeze. By the way, there’s no immigration card to fill out. Luggage came out rather quickly.
Next task – buy a train ticket from Amsterdam Schipol to Amsterdam Centraal Station. They go for $4.30 Euros which is just $5.55 in US dollars. Very quick trip – 15 minutes as well as a bargain. Not only that – it is a down escalator at Schipol and there’s a lift or down steps at Amsterdam Centraal Station which is very busy and bustling both inside and out.
The train platforms are above the concourse,
so after you arrive you go down stairs to ground level. And that’s where it gets a little tricky. I wanted to buy a 5 day bus/tram pass so I needed to find the tourist info building (which also sells the bus/tram passes) which isn’t in the train station proper it was small building with an orange roof
and I had to ask two policemen because the signs weren’t helpful. The five-day pass cost $25 Euros. A bargain seeing how on the first day which was really only a half day = I took three separate bus rides – to the apartment and then to go out for dinner. A single day ticket is good for one hour at a cost of Euro 2.60, so the five-day pass – good for 120 hours – already seemed a bargain.
Getting to the Apartment:
Of course finding the bus wasn’t easy. I needed either the #18 bus or the #21 bus. In front of the train station are the trams but for the bus I had to cross a bridge over a canal. Dodging the trams is easy enough – by OMG – Amsterdam is a city on wheels. People on bikes everywhere. It was like never-ending – just crossing a street required some care. Of course, in the more residential areas – there’s far less of a concentration. Still, but people on bikes far outnumber either just pedestrians or cars. Just to your right of Centraal Station, there’s a three tiered parking structure – just for bicycles!
From Centraal Station – you will find the #18 or the $21 bus basically in a bus turn-around area that is in reality in front of the Victoria Hotel which is a big hotel and is in front of Amsterdam Centraal Station. The bus ride to Nieuwe Willemstraat is no more than six or seven minutes. In Amsterdam, you board the buses at the front – scan your ticket or pass or pay cash. The trams may be boarded in the center where the conductor sits in a little booth – scan your ticket or pass just like on the bus. The buses/trams have verbal announcements of the upcoming stops plus there’s a visual display that also indicates the upcoming stop. Buy a bus/tram pass to save money. You press the bus/tram pass against a reader that scans your ticket, then beeps. You press on entering the bus as well as leaving. I speak no Dutch but had no problems. The bus drivers do speak English so if you’re not sure, you can ask.
I got the 18 bus and told the driver to let me know when we got to Nieuwe Willemstraat which was about six or seven minutes away depending on traffic. Within a minute after getting off the bus – I got a call from Leonie, the woman whose apartment I’d be staying in via airbnb.com. Her instructions were quite easy – walk past the park, turn right at the corner and then cross the bridge – look for the bike shop on the corner of Nassaukade and Jacob Catskade. Turn left down Jacob Catskade, and the apartment building is down towards the end of the block.It was no more than a three-minute walk from the bus stop. The street runs alongside a canal – small trees, very pretty and quiet. Leonie was on the 3rd floor balcony, the one with the four flower boxes and the small table and two chairs in the picture above, and she called out to me as I approached the building.
I had been warned that the older buildings (those without elevators) in Amsterdam – have rather steep staircases. It was true. The steps were both steep and narrow. The trade-off is that the apartments have high ceilings and big widows which allows for plenty of sunlight.
The apartment was up two flights of steps. It was a one bedroom with a large dining room, and a smaller living room. The canal was beneath the living room windows. The dining room had plenty of windows but the view was obscured by a large tree. The bedroom was small and compact but the queen-sized double was plenty comfortable.
A well-appointed kitchen with a dishwasher, four burner gas stove and oven, refrigerator, a Nespresso machine, and tons of plates, bowls, pots and pans. The bathroom had a large tub and a stall shower, along with two sinks – a time saver if you’re traveling as a pair. The WC was separate and actually, at first glance was closet-sized, but it did include a washer/dryer.
The living room came with a flat screen TV and a DVD player (region 2 only) so your DVDs from the USA won’t work. Plus the apartment had wi-fi so you’ll be able to keep up with the world’s events (sorry to read about Derek Jeter’s ankle fracture) or your own email, or like this case, your blog.
I stayed on a quiet street in the North and West side of Amsterdam. The street is called Jacob Catskade and it is situated along side a canal. Actually the street called Jacob Catskade is on both sides of the canal with odd numbers houses on one side and the even numbers on the other.
and also, I bought take out Thai at a place called Top Thai Thuis. And both of these are highly recommended. The links will take you to their webpages in Dutch. No worries – everyone in the places all spoke English . On my first night I had Indian food at a restaurant called Moti Mahal. I liked their food too, but this place was closer to the Amsterdam Centraal Station – so it wasn’t in the neighborhood.
Good Evening Mr. Singh
I had arrived in Amsterdam on Thursday the 11th, so on my first night in town – I went out looking for a place to eat. I took the bus back to Centraal Station because I knew that If I walked down Damrak – the city’s main avenue that it would take me to Dam Square – literally the center of town. From Dam Square I could pick any of the side streets and find hundreds of places to eat. So I eventually found myself on Voorburgwal. I saw a storefront that said Indian Restaurant on the sign above the window. I stopped to look at the menu on a stand outside the front of the place. A Sikh gentleman came out of the place, likely looking to drum up business by inviting me to come in try the food.
He looked like a million other Sikhs. A full grey beard, a black shirt, and a black turban. I saw him coming towards me, and before he could say anything, I said, “Hello Mr. Singh,” which stopped him in his tracks.
“How do you know my name?” he said. He seemed like a nice fellow, and the restaurant’s menu was appealing, so I said, “Let’s go in, and I will buy dinner.” I had an order of chicken biryani, a paratha bread, and a few Indian beers. The food was quite tasty. I never did tell Mr. Singh that I didn’t really know that his name was Mr. Singh – i just guessed that name because it is a common name among Sikhs. The restaurant was called Moti Mahal – at N.Z.Voorburwal 34 – only about a five-minute walk from Centraal Station.
Not having slept on the plane, I was dog-tired and went to bed a wee bit past 9:00 PM on my first night in country. Of course, the jet lag would come into play, and I awoke at 4:00 AM feeling well rested. I didn’t know that in Amsterdam, at this time of the year, the sun wouldn’t come up until nearly 8:00 AM – but Day 2 is another story.
To be continued.