A Travellerspoint blog

Amsterdam - Monday, 21 December 2015

Day 2 in Amsterdam

overcast 11 °C

Today is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.

CitizenM Hotels are a chain of hotels throughout Europe. This one at the Schiphol Airport was the first one to be built. It is a minimalist hotel designed by a fashion designer who used to travel all the time in the fashion business and was tired of staying in sub standard hotels because the posh ones were much too expensive. He designed the CitizenM Hotels to be functional and modern and provide a very comfortable bed and bathroom facilities because people only stay one or two nights.

The breakfast this morning was fresh and appetising and adequate. Juices, yoghurt, tomatoes, scrambled eggs and bacon. Lovely fresh crusty bread, butter and jam, tea and coffee. It is all self serve but there are very friendly staff at every turn to help "first timers". The tables and chairs are long tables, and everyone just sits everywhere.

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After breakfast we headed to the railway station in Schiphol Airport, bought a couple of tickets and headed into town.

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I found him! It only took 29 hours from Cook to Amsterdam, but I found him!!

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Amsterdam has some beautiful buildings. We had forgotten how lovely they are. The railway station isn't very far away from Dam Square, the main square, so we headed for there and reacquainted ourselves with the area. We were here in July 2011, the middle of summer and nearly froze. It was cold and windy and wet. It was cold and windy and slightly wet today, but at least we had the right clothes on. Of course 2011 was the year that Europe missed out on summer.

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In 2011 we walked a couple of blocks to Anne Frank house but when we got there the queue was a mile long so we decided to give it a miss. We headed for Anne Frank house today and were amazed at the length of the queue again. It went right along the road and around the corner! I stood in line and Phil walked up to the head of the queue. The lady at the head of the queue told Phil she had been in the queue for 3 hours! We decided not to wait again, as standing in a queue all that time in 11 degrees and a very strong, cold wind was not our idea of fun. Will I ever get to see Anne Frank house? At least I have read the book.

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Cannabis icecream, anyone? Or would you prefer to grow your own? This time in Amsterdam, we couldn't smell any marijuana smoke. Last time the air reeked with it and most of the people we passed were off their faces but this time the crowds seem like normal people going about their last minute Christmas shopping.

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This guy saw an elephant in Thailand with one leg missing, so he had a prosthesis made for it. He then opened this shop in Amsterdam that sells the most beautiful ceramic elephants. You can also buy your own kit and paint your own elephant and all the proceeds go to the care of elephants in Thailand.

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We took our time wandering through the lanes and streets of Amsterdam, taking photos of the lovely old buildings until we arrived back at the railway station,

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and then caught the train back to Schiphol Airport where we had some lunch at the same place as yesterday and then came back to the hotel for a rest before dinner. The weather has turned very overcast, bleak and windy.

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This guy was singing at Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station. He was very good.

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Phil could not possibly lose me in Amsterdam. I am the only person in a red overcoat. Everyone else is in brown or black. They all look so drab!

After a relaxing afternoon, we rugged up and walked to Schiphol Mall to have a pizza for dinner. The wind is absolutely howling outside our window and when we stepped outside, we saw it was raining. There is a covered walkway to the Mall, but the wind is so strong, the rain is hitting us sideways. The pizza was okay - had worse but it wasn't as good as my favourite pizza at Le Rendezvous in Manuka.

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On the way back to the hotel, we were walking into the wind. OMG! It was so strong, it was an effort to walk in a straight line. And the rain was coming at us from both sides. Just as well we didn't have very far to go.

Back in our warm, snuggly room and the noise of the wind roaring outside our building is incredible. Time for a shower and hopping into bed under our lovely fluffy doona.

Posted by gaddingabout 11:03 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Amsterdam - Sunday, 20 December 2015

Amsterdam stopover for a couple of days

overcast 11 °C

Landed at Amsterdam Airport after a very smooth, uneventful flight from Hong Kong. Collected our luggage and walked a very short distance out of the airport to the CitizenM hotel, where we will be spending two days and nights recuperating from the long flight and trying to get our body clocks in sync with the northern hemisphere.

It is very dark here early in the morning. It gets light at about 8.40 am and I believe it's dark again by 4.30 pm.

When we arrived at the hotel, our room was ready for us at 8 am however there was a charge of 29 Euros for early check in. It is an airport hotel after all, and they will accept arrivals from 10 am, however the very early arrivals have to pay a charge because the hotel has to pay cleaners to come in early and clean the rooms. Fair enough!

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Our room is quite small but modern, fresh and clean. Just what the doctor ordered! It's nice to have a shower after such a long trip. 29 hours from Cook to the hotel in Amsterdam.

We have a very unique "Do not disturb" sign on our door. It says "Please do not come in because someone is naked inside!"

We freshened up and at lunch time walked the short walk to the Schiphol Mall which is part of the Schiphol Airport. There is every sort of shop there that you could imagine, plus a train station. We had lunch at La Place Restaurant which I have seen in other cities in Europe. It is a huge help yourself place with everything imaginable to eat, but it is displayed among beautiful fresh produce which is very colourful and fresh and seems to make the food more inviting. We only had tomato soup and bread and Phil had a beer and I had a Cranberry Yoghurt drink. Yummy.

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We walked around the area for a while and took some photos.

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This Christmas Tree came whirling through the Mall, and guess who was inside. These kids got such a surprise.

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We wandered back to our hotel and decided to have a little rest and watch a movie before dinner. That proved to be FATAL! We woke up at 11.00 pm, missed dinner so went back to sleep and the next thing we knew it was 7 am the next day!

Posted by gaddingabout 00:14 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

Canberra to Sydney to Amsterdam - Saturday, 19 December 2015

Amsterdam stopover for a couple of days

11 °C

Phil picked up the hire car on Friday afternoon and we left Canberra on Saturday morning at 10.14 am precisely, after a very relaxed morning with Canberra heading for a 36 degree day. It took us three hours to get to Sydney, fill up the car with petrol, drop it off and proceed to check in. Being Saturday and the beginning of the Christmas holidays, we thought the traffic would be bad but it was pretty good until we got to the M5 airport tunnel and it slowed down considerably.

The queue at Cathay Pacifc was VERY long and we were very pleased to be flying Premium Economy, as we were the only ones in that queue. Sydney International Airport is under renovations and has changed a lot. Customs (or Australian Border Protection as they call it now) is quick and efficient and VERY, VERY different from before. It has become automatic electronic processing, matching your passport to a photo that they take.

I was so intent on putting my passport in the machine and then stepping onto the markers to have my photo taken, that I left my carry on bag at Phil's feet. He called me back and as I turned the glass doors shut on me and I have a nice bruise on my arm and I don't know how, but my backside is as sore as sore. It will probably have a big bruise too! I had three visits to the physio before we left Australia to try to cure a pain in my leg from my groin right down my leg and now my collision with the gates has made it worse. Not much fun sitting on a plane for eight hours and then another nine to Amsterdam.

We found our gate - 24 - and then went hunting for a snack for lunch. We found Maccas and I had a lovely warm chicken salad and Phil had a burger.

We are travelling Premium Economy with Cathay Pacific and have now landed in Hong Kong and have a two and a half hour wait for our flight to Amsterdam. It took 8 1/2 hours to get to Hong Kong. Quite an uneventful flight. The food was good. We had a champagne on boarding and both had a very tender piece of excellent steak for dinner.

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The selection of movies isn't fabulous but I watched "Rickie and The Flash", "The Driving Lesson" and "Tracks'. Phil watched "Holmes", "Southpaw" and "Mission Impossible".

I am now having an attack of my famous "non allergic Rhinitus". What could possibly set me off on a plane!!! They are constantly announcing symptoms for Ebola and Avian Flu and asking people to go to the medical centre if they have any of them.

We boarded our flight for Amsterdam at about 1.00 am and the minute we took off, I fell asleep and woke up in time for breakfast with about three hours to go. Fantastic. Phil only slept for half the flight but had dinner and watched a couple of movies. I, of course, missed out on dinner but it didn't matter because I wasn't even hungry and there is just so much airline food that you can eat!

The sprained muscle is my backside (from the Sydney Airport incident) is giving me curry and I am having trouble walking well!

The two flights were both very smooth and we arrived in Amsterdam at 6.15 am and were the only flight in at that time. Collected our luggage and took the short walk to the CitizenM Hotel where we will stay for two days and nights, to try to become acclimatized and get our body clocks in sync with the northern hemisphere.

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It is 8.15 am and still pitch black and about 11 degrees.

Our room is brand new and very modern. Room number 579, right at the end of the hallway. It is quite small, and spotless but all we need for a stopover.

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From the time we left home until we landed in Amsterdam, took 29 hours - from door to door!

Posted by gaddingabout 23:37 Archived in Netherlands Comments (0)

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