Calgarypuck Forums - The Unofficial Calgary Flames Fan Community
Old 09-10-2013, 09:16 AM   #1
mykalberta
Franchise Player
 
mykalberta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Calgary
Exp:
Default Spain and Netherlands - looking for vacation ideas, experiences, etc

Just wondering if anyone has any helpful travel advice/tips for Spain or the Netherlands.

As a precursor - I have no interest in enjoying any semi legal herbs or any red light districts.

Me and Mrs MYK fly into Barcelona for 10 days. My initial thought would be spend 3 days in BCN then 7 days travelling through Spain. Maybe on to Mallorca for 3 days. There seems so much in just the NE part of Spain that its a little over whelming to try to pre book anything so I figured I would ask for some suggestions of places others have been and what they thought - was it worth the time/money etc.

Also the experiences with the living arrangements and food as there seems to be a wide range from hostels to government run hotels to the higher end stuff

I am then in Amsterdam for 4 days before flying back and I figured I would probably spend 1.5 days in AMS itself then go around the country exploring.
__________________
MYK - Supports Arizona to democtratically pass laws for the state of Arizona
Rudy was the only hope in 08
2011 Election: Cons 40% - Nanos 38% Ekos 34%
mykalberta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2013, 09:28 AM   #2
Hes
Eye Guy
 
Hes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Exp:
Default

Anne Frank House
Heineken Experience
Van Gogh museum

These are all worth visiting in Amsterdam
Hes is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Hes For This Useful Post:
Old 09-10-2013, 09:44 AM   #3
Street Pharmacist
Franchise Player
 
Street Pharmacist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Kamloops
Exp:
Default

Den Haag (The Haag) is a short train ride away and is the best tourist spot in my opinion. Lots to see and do and it's where their parliament is, international courts, royal palaces, etc. Lots of museums too and very easy to get around.

In Amsterdam, there is lots to do too though

Forgot to mention the Keukenhof 30 minutes outside of Amsterdam. It's a flower gardens on a scale that's actually pretty amazing even if you're not into flowers. I enjoyed it anyways

Last edited by Street Pharmacist; 09-10-2013 at 09:53 AM.
Street Pharmacist is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Street Pharmacist For This Useful Post:
Old 09-10-2013, 09:57 AM   #4
Nyah
First Line Centre
 
Nyah's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: The Kilt & Caber
Exp:
Default

As far as Spain goes, I'd check out the southern coast. It's beautiful & there are a lot of really cool things to see. I'd skip Gibraltar...it's a tourist trap where everything costs way more money and the currency switches to GBP (pounds). Some cities in Southern Spain I'd recommend:
Granada
Mijas
Sevilla
Marbella
If you have an extra day or two, you can also take a ferry from a few different points on Southern Spain (I find Tarifa is the best departure point) and hit Morocco for a day trip or two. It's only a 30 minute ferry ride over (a little longer for the slower/cheaper ferries) and really cool to do.

Edit: if you're into golfing, souther Spain would be right up your alley too. Costa del Sol has been coined Costa del Golf and has some terrific courses.

Last edited by Nyah; 09-10-2013 at 10:08 AM.
Nyah is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Nyah For This Useful Post:
Old 09-10-2013, 10:10 AM   #5
Ironhorse
Franchise Player
 
Ironhorse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Calgary
Exp:
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hesla View Post
Anne Frank House
Heineken Experience
Van Gogh museum

These are all worth visiting in Amsterdam
As is the newly renovated Rijksmuseum (state musuem), which is across the park from the Van Gogh and contains countless master pieces from the Golden Age.

If you have naval interests, a tour of the replica VOC ship "Amsterdam" is also worthwhile.
Ironhorse is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Ironhorse For This Useful Post:
Old 09-10-2013, 10:17 AM   #6
Ironhorse
Franchise Player
 
Ironhorse's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Calgary
Exp:
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Street Pharmacist View Post
Den Haag (The Haag) is a short train ride away and is the best tourist spot in my opinion. Lots to see and do and it's where their parliament is, international courts, royal palaces, etc. Lots of museums too and very easy to get around.
If you go to Den Haag, make sure you visit Madurodam, where everything is 1:25 scale replicas of things around the country, including animated airports and canal locks. I've always enjoyed going there.
Ironhorse is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Ironhorse For This Useful Post:
Old 09-10-2013, 10:36 AM   #7
kipperfan
Franchise Player
 
kipperfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Exp:
Default

I'll give you some advice (that others may disagree with), stay away from Madrid unless your looking to pick up a hooker, get your quota of pollution of the month or are looking for some of that fine, European crack rock. Because aside from a few great museums, it sucks pretty hard IMO. Barcelona is amazing, great city with tons to do (and see, some amazing architecture), day and night. I’ve never been to Mallorca but Seville is another amazing place that I would highly recommend, Valencia also gets high marks from me. Not sure that you’d even consider it given the tight timeframe, but Lisbon, Portugal is, IMO, the only city in the region that challenges (but still loses) Barcelona in terms of things to see and do as well as great food and nightlife.

Amsterdam is Amsterdam, smoke some dope (green text..?), wander around the amazing city, see some awesome museums and eat some of their amazing food. One of the best museums (IMO, Van Gogh is the best) isn’t listed above though, and that is the Rijks Museum. Tons of great art, more Rembrandt then I have ever seen in one place.
__________________
"Man, so long as he remains free, has no more constant and agonizing anxiety than to find, as quickly as possible, someone to worship."

Fyodor Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
kipperfan is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to kipperfan For This Useful Post:
Old 09-10-2013, 11:07 AM   #8
sun
#1 Goaltender
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Not cheering for losses
Exp:
Default

Check out San Sebastian if you want to get away from the big cities.

In Amsterdam, renting a bike (or buying, if the junkie bridge is still a thing) is absolutely crucial. One of my favourite cities.
sun is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to sun For This Useful Post:
Old 09-10-2013, 11:22 AM   #9
mykalberta
Franchise Player
 
mykalberta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Calgary
Exp:
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kipperfan View Post
I'll give you some advice (that others may disagree with), stay away from Madrid unless your looking to pick up a hooker, get your quota of pollution of the month or are looking for some of that fine, European crack rock. Because aside from a few great museums, it sucks pretty hard IMO. Barcelona is amazing, great city with tons to do (and see, some amazing architecture), day and night. I’ve never been to Mallorca but Seville is another amazing place that I would highly recommend, Valencia also gets high marks from me. Not sure that you’d even consider it given the tight timeframe, but Lisbon, Portugal is, IMO, the only city in the region that challenges (but still loses) Barcelona in terms of things to see and do as well as great food and nightlife.

Amsterdam is Amsterdam, smoke some dope (green text..?), wander around the amazing city, see some awesome museums and eat some of their amazing food. One of the best museums (IMO, Van Gogh is the best) isn’t listed above though, and that is the Rijks Museum. Tons of great art, more Rembrandt then I have ever seen in one place.
Yah we've heard to stay away from Madrid as well. Right not we are thinking of spending most of out time travelling SW along the coast probably no future than Malaga and every so often if there is something worth seeing we will make our way a in land.

The train system in Spain doesnt seem as good as Germany or Italy so we arent sure what method of travel to use. We would like to rent a car but I dont want it to cause more headaches than its worth.
__________________
MYK - Supports Arizona to democtratically pass laws for the state of Arizona
Rudy was the only hope in 08
2011 Election: Cons 40% - Nanos 38% Ekos 34%
mykalberta is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2013, 11:34 AM   #10
Nyah
First Line Centre
 
Nyah's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: The Kilt & Caber
Exp:
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mykalberta View Post
We would like to rent a car but I dont want it to cause more headaches than its worth.
Spain is really easy to drive in (get a GPS, makes a ton of difference) and the cars are super cheap to rent.
Nyah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2013, 11:51 AM   #11
Francis's Hairpiece
Powerplay Quarterback
 
Francis's Hairpiece's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Exp:
Default

I was in Amsterdam for a few hours as a stopover before going to groeningen when I was 18 (18 years ago!) and we stopped in the sex museum. Holy cow. I saw things in there that were very taboo here, and I never looked at women in the same light after.

Now, thanks to the marvel of the Internet, those things are more available, and thus not quite as shocking. I strongly suggest stopping by, but I would recommend spending an hour at least in there, due to the size of the place.
__________________
Born to lose live to win
Francis's Hairpiece is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2013, 12:11 PM   #12
oilfanforever
Scoring Winger
 
oilfanforever's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Washington D.C.
Exp:
Default

Whilst I live in the UK, I do a lot of work in Holland and also have a flat in Den Haag. Good recommendations above for both Amsterdam and Den Haag.

I also recommend Delft. Its an older Dutch city with beautiful canals etc. It's only a 10 minute train ride from Den Haag.

For drinks and dinner in The Hague, head down to the Denneweg (also where I live) as it's home to good shopping, restaurants and pubs. I recommend 'Le Resident' and 'Oker' for dinner. If you fancy some hockey chat and I'm in town let me know and I'll come down and get you a delicious 11% beer.

I'd also recommend getting a Chipkaart once you get to Schipol Airport. It's like an Oyster card in London but works on every train and tram in the country. Load up a few Euro's and you can travel efficiently and cheaply around the whole country.

Have fun!
oilfanforever is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2013, 12:22 PM   #13
oilfanforever
Scoring Winger
 
oilfanforever's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Washington D.C.
Exp:
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mykalberta View Post
Also the experiences with the living arrangements and food as there seems to be a wide range from hostels to government run hotels to the higher end stuff.
Oh, I also have a downloadable 40 Euro voucher to use at an Accor hotel (Novotel, Mercure and Ibis) from previous stays which I will never use. Let me know if you plan to book one and I'll email it to you.
oilfanforever is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2013, 03:21 PM   #14
polak
In the Sin Bin
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Exp:
Default

As mentioned above, I'd avoid Madrid, at least as an extended stop. You can see it all in a day. Barcelona is great, I didn't do much sight seeing outside of the obvious "must-see's" so I can't help with that but it's a great place for tourists. You can get by with English any where near the tourist area. The Metro in Braca is really easy to use and get around. Felt safe the entire time as well, even when I was walking around alone after the bars emptied out. As for hotels, we stayed at a 4 star that was really nice and inexpensive compared to most of Europe. It was too far from the main tourist area (La Rambla) to walk but right next to a metro which was only a 5 minute ride. We also uh, visited, a couple other hotels that were similar (4 Stars, not in the tourist area) and they were also really nice so I'd strongly recommend looking into something like that because unless your budget is quite high, everything near La Rambla looked awful and extremely loud.

One sight that is a must if you're a sports fan is Camp Nou, especially if you're into soccer.

I did get screwed 3 separate times by ATM's not giving me my money but charging my account anyways and according to the lady I spoke to at my bank, it's pretty common in Europe. Still haven't got most of my money back and that was in June, so I'd just be careful about that I guess. Next time I go, I'm only sticking to Multi-national banks that I recognize.

Note:
I don't know where you have and haven't been, but it seems odd to pick two of the more expensive and most "party oriented" countries in Europe when it doesn't sound like that's what you're going for. There are plenty of places in Europe that offer all of the same, if not more history, sights and weather for cheaper. Just saying.

Last edited by polak; 09-10-2013 at 03:23 PM.
polak is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2013, 08:10 AM   #15
Northendzone
Franchise Player
 
Northendzone's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Exp:
Default

i have heard that the rain in spain falls mainly on the plain - so you may want to plan your trip accordingly
__________________
I really like bikes and bike related discussions......
Northendzone is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-04-2013, 11:14 AM   #16
mykalberta
Franchise Player
 
mykalberta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Calgary
Exp:
Default

So I just returned from my vacation to Spain and the Netherlands and I figured I would write my own review here,

Just for some background as to what our budget was as someone with no budget is very likely to have a different time than someone on a budget.

We spent 11 nights 13 days (2 of those were 1/2 days)in Spain. We brought $1200 Euro cash for the Spanish budget and paid for hotels and apartment rentals and anything over 200E with credit card. Our hotel budget was about 75Euro a night =/= 125CAD.

We spent 4 nights in Barcelona
1 Night in a converted castle in Tortosa
2 nights in Sagunto (30min drive to Valencia)\
1 night in Alicante
1 night in Cartagena
2 nights in Taragona

Barcelona - if you are there to go to sleep at 4am and not see much durring the day then this is the place for you. If you are interested in going to museums and other palces i would recommend at max spending 2 days here. It was for the most part a real let down and easily the worst part of our 14 night European adventure.

The amazing: Sagratta Familia, Palace of Calitan music - 2 places you cannot mis IMO if going to Barcelona

The good: The science museum - every place that has a science museum I always go, not as good as Prague, Valencia, or Amsterdam but worth the admission once. The transit passes - you can buy a 10 pass ticket for 10 Euro and use it for as many people as you want. We bought 2 of those and never needed

The unexpected: If you have conversational South American Spanish and have been able to get by fine in places like Chile and Costa Rica - be prepared for a shock because apparently you are speaking gibberish to people in Spain. Seeing a guy about 25m in front of us get his DSLR stolen and trying to tell a police officer in my Spanish and English on Las Romblas about it and failing - whats most funny is a girl at the tourist office less than 5 hours earlier told us Japanese are the most targeted and then seeing one have their camera stolen was just humerous. The amount people in Barcelona eat out and the time they eat - eatery opens at 830pm

The disappointing: The food - for anything reasonably priced 20CAD or under blah boring bland and just overall disappointing. You had to get to 30-40 Euro for something nice but spending close to 50CAD for me has to be amazing food and this isnt it and we werent willing to spend more than 40 Euro just on the food. Guell park - omg dont waste your time with this pile of garbage. Everything you read and hear make it sound like is something amazing and its a waste of time and was a colossal commercial failure.

The bad: The obsession with all things Gaudi. The segratta familia was truly amazing and probably one of only 3 churches of the 30+ or more in Europe that I have been to that is actually worth it. While most of Gaudi's building are interesting for the most they are down right creepy. And then you read a bit more about him and it sounds like the only reason he flourished was because he had rich benefactors but he was a commercial disaster. The smell of the City was I guess expected given its a coastal hot climate but the overall is just nasty. Also I have experienced European expressionism before but the amount of grafitti everywhere is offputting.

The ugly: The Catalonian independence arrogance theme throughout alot of the province (at least from Barcelona and then travelling south). I guess maybe because we have Quebec that its more meaningfull but the overall disgust of their need for tourism and anti Spanish is really off-putting.

We took a day trip to Monseratt Monestary and that was a very cool place to see and hike around. We met to American ladies on the train ride up and they are were staying the night and we were instantly disappointed we didnt book the same. Very special place.

Outside of Barcelona we rented a car - was supposed to be a Fod Fusion but instead we got a Fiat Panda - the rental car scam job is alive and well in spain - Rental was 35 Euros for 6 days. Plus 60 Euro for the full tank of gas (in Spain you return it with as little fuel as possible so we the orange light was turning on when we got there so we spent another 40 minutes or so killing the environment and their car by going around in circles by the airport in 3rd gear. Then the insurance came - we each have CIBC Aerogold but wernt confident what might happen if something did happen - good thing we got as at some point in the parking garage in Valencia someone ran into the passenger side.

On the way to Tortosa we took a side trip to Siurana - we went there for the views and the historical significance - very nice - easy to get lost though and the mountain roads were very interesting to drive on.

Tortosa The spanish gov has converted alot of old castles into hotels and Tortosa was the closest one so we decided to spend the night. Not much to do in Tortosa - we had an unforgetable evening at a restraunt in town (not because of the food but the perv owner we was hitting on my wife in Spanish - he didnt think either of us spoke any). His arrogance was so funny that I didnt say anything until the end when I told him in Spanish that I dont think a 5'6" 300Lb ball of lard had a chance with her - who knows if he understood or not but the look on his face was priceless when I spoke to him.

Other than the eatery perv everyone in Torosa was very friendly - much more so than Barcelona. That evening I got food poisoning we think from our Breakfast in Barcelona - it only lasted for 12 hours and then we left for parts unknown.

After Tortosa we handt booked anything so we decided on staying in the quaint beach town of Sagunto. On the Expressway the price is about 1E/10KM so we decided on taking the regional road which only extended our journey about 45 minutes. At the time we didnt think much but everything in Spain closes at 2pm - even the tourist offices so we had to kill some time in Sagunto until the tourist office opened to get a map.

Sagunto - very rich and interesting history and a place I wanted to see more than Barcelona even before booking due to its incredible Roman Empire historical significance. The first day in Sagunto we did the beach thing at 29C - sand was very soft (better than hawaii) water was a bit cold but who cares. After we went to the tourist office and ended up staying at Hotel Vent de Mar (winds of the sea) - about a 5 minute walk to the beach.

2nd day we went to the beach in the morning and then decided to see the historical stuff after lunch. Just amazing - the whole setup and the way they have items labelled in English (for the most part). Sagunto has a very interesting history - I was a very rich and important merchant town and was allied with the Romans and the invasion and siege of Sagunto was the catalyst of the start of the second Punic war. They have a roman Apitheatre there and a Roman castle/forum. In the 1900s it became an extremely important and vital iron ore processing and smelting plant which people there are very prideful about and very interesting to see.

We then left Sagunto and headed to Valencia for a day trip - we initially planned to spend a night in Valencia and we should have but alas we didnt. Without a doubt IMO Valencia is head and shoulders above Barcelona in terms of bang for your buck, what to see, what to eat, friendliness. The food again was very average but at least you only paid 15E instead of 30E.

We then stayed 1 night in Alicante. Very interesting and nice city with a great beach - we spent 1/2 day at the beach near Alicante - it was a relatively brisk 27C out - brrrr .

We then left Alicante and headed for Cartagena. Before we left for Spain we planned on driving alot more and getting down to Malaga but decided that Cartagena was the farthest south we wanted to travel. Good beach in Cartagena again, and amazing history from many different cultures that have existed - great maritime port (was home of the Spanish Navy).

The next day we decided to go straight shot to Tarragona, its alot of driving but we heard everything there closed at 3 so we wanted to get at least a few of the things in - there is alot of history in Tarragona - aqueduct, roman theatre, coliseum, circus and Aurelian Way. We left afer a hearty complimentary breakfast at around 715am and go to Tarragona at 1030. Got to the tourist office and yes everything closed at 3 and the next day (Monday) everything was closed) so we hit up the Coliseum, ampitheatre, and circus. At the Coliseum we go there at 215 and a guy tried to tell us they were closing - the pamphlet from the tourist office clearly stated it was open until 3 but the ticket window closes 30 minutes prior. He kept saying 5 minutes 5 minutes to 2 American girls - I got tired of this game as I had been played by this Southern European mentality in Greece before so I just pushed through him and bought 2 tickets. It wasnt worth the money has they only had written information plaques and all were in Spanish but we got some good pictures and while walking out at 2.58 pm I told the guy 5 minutes 5 minutes my ass in Spanish. I love being able to someonwhat speak a language when they dont think you can - the look on their faces are priceless.

Monday we spent the morning going to see the Aqueduct and the Aurelian way and in the afternoon it had cleared up and we went to the beach - again the temperature was a frosty 28C so the only people on the beach were us, an older American couple and some Russians (more on Russians later in my Netherlands recap).

The next day we headed to BCN for our flight to Amsterdam. We left early not really knowing how long it would take us to get there - the drive on the C32/C31 was well worth it. We didnt expect the tolls as we had avoided the AP7 but at least here the tolls were well worth it. Travelling through tunnels for what seemed like eternity was cool unto itself to see and the toll afterwards was well worth the price IMO.

Overall, I would say unless you are into nigtlife you can see anything worth seeing in BCN in 1.5 days. Dont spend more than 2 nights there. The breakfasts at the hotels outside of Barcelona were easily the best meals of the day for us and for the rest we kept trying to find good spanish food and kept finding mediocre food. Pallela in Valencia was a good example, - it was tasty and well priced but it wasnt anything special.

Would I go back to Spain - Yes. It wouldnt be my first choice (I would like to see Croatia, Italy, Switzerland again, Turkey, Scandanavia, Scottland/Ireland/England but I would go back. I went back I would fly into Valencia and then travel from there.

A couple of things to note: the european beverage screwjob is alive and well in spain - 4 CAD for a 200ml bottle of pop, no tap water - similar price for bottled water. Unlike the Czech republic alcohol inst less expensive so you cant supplement your palet with beer. After the first time I had no problem just bringing in a bottle of Water into the eatery. I would always order pop but then once done wouldnt order more but instead would just drink the water I had brought. Something I would never even consider in Calgary - but then again I can get tap water in Calgary.

Females: I was fairly disappointed with the hottie quotient in Spain. Alot of women there wear designer clothes (the one thing the warn you about at BCN is not bringing in or out knock off handbags ) but for the most part are fairly plain looking. Compared to Athens, Prague, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Costa Rica, Chile, Honolulu the number of hotties is low.

Friendliness: not good not bad. I would say on par with Greece, Italy, CZ Rep, and Switzerland - not as friendly as The Netherlands or Germany, more friendly than France or Italy.

Weather: hot, humid and sweaty as balls - 24-29C as the high. Never seen any rain - worst weather we saw was some cloudiness but that would burn off by 1pm.

English - I would say about on the same level as the Czech republic. Not as good as Germany, Swizterland, Netherlands. Probably on par with France and Italy - a bit better than Greece.

So its not all anti Spain/Barcelona - the transit in Barcelona is very convenient - and driving in Spain is a breeze - not a death trap like Greece
__________________
MYK - Supports Arizona to democtratically pass laws for the state of Arizona
Rudy was the only hope in 08
2011 Election: Cons 40% - Nanos 38% Ekos 34%

Last edited by mykalberta; 11-04-2013 at 11:34 AM.
mykalberta is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to mykalberta For This Useful Post:
Old 11-04-2013, 11:52 AM   #17
mykalberta
Franchise Player
 
mykalberta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Calgary
Exp:
Default

Netherlands...

Netherlands

Budget was 700E cash for 4 days 4 nights. Apartment paid for by Visa. Price per night for Studio apartment with queen bed and full kitchen was 60E/night.

Apartment: No issues other than the low water pressure - you couldnt take a shower and run a tap at the same time. But none the less it had everything we needed for making it our Amsterdam basecamp. From Apartment to Centraal Station was about 15 minutes by bus so it wasnt crazy convenient but it also wasnt loud so. It was booked via AirBnB which I guess is the number 1 apartment booking engine for Amsterdam.

So we to Amsterdam and it was pouring rain. The train from airport to Centraal Station was only 4.40E and we hopped on bus 32 to get to our apartment rental in North Amsterdam. Apparently we got there just in time as the worst storm to hit in 29 years had just gone through and someone had died along a canal from a tree falling on them. While on the bus ride as we tried to see where we were going through the rain storm 4 different people asked if we needed help - I couldnt believe it, all perfect English and not hating that we were on their articulated bus with out luggage - amazing.

We arrived at our apartment and was greeted by our very friendly AirBNB host with free Netherland waffle cookies. Like our host in Amsterdam he gave us some tips on where to get food. We were starving so we tried this pub from 1908 and OMG compared to Barcelona the food was amazing and well priced. Holysloot we found food heaven compared to Spain.

We were a little frazzled from our trip and the downpour when we walked outside the train station so we just decided to walk around in the rain for a while to get our barings. The smell - there was no smell in North Amsterdam which was a pleasant surprise from the smell of BCN.

We connected the laptop and checked the weather. The next day it wasnt calling for alot of rain so we decided to rent bikes - found a few places near so got a bike map and decided to bike around. Rented bikes for 20E for the day per bike (old terrible bike but comfortable seat, had their been any hills in Amsterdam this bike would have been terrible but the Netherlands is like Sastachewan with more water so it was very flat so the bikes worked). We crossed the river on the free ferry and stopped at a Cafe (not Coffee shop - big difference) for breakfast. We checked the menu and it sounded good and the prices were very reasonable so we grabbed a bite - nothing spectacular but good food at good prices - cant ask for anything more than that. We biked around amsterdam making the loop at first on the oustide then again on the inside and then again the inside for some more. Almost died on the bike a few times but all in all crazy number of bikes.

A little odd was that on all bike paths scooters, motorbikes, and these weird Erkel golf carts are all allowed. It was a bit strange to see see scooters wizzing past you but whatevs - cant complain. The bikes seem to own the way in Amsterdam you dont have to stop for anything it seems least bit pedestrians. We spent about 6 hours in an around old amsterdam just biking along, stopping every so often to take pictures. Amsterdam is a very strange city to get your bearings in. The roads change names and because they arent at right angled its easy to get lost so we probably stopped every 30 minutes to check the map just to make sure where we were .

We brought a few croissants and fruit with us which held us over so we decided to then cross to North Amsterdam and bike up there. We biked to Holysloot and stopped in at a great little eatery there - again great food and reasonable prices. The drink scam is there but when you arent paying 50CAD for your meal you can stomach 3.50CAD for 200ml of pop. We then biked to Monnikendam and had dessert and headed back to drop off our bikes before 7pm and since there were no lights on these bikes we wanted to be back before sundown .

We went to get groceries at Albert Hijn ? and retired early as we planned to go to Zann Schans the next day and we had booked a boat tour around old amsterdam in the evening as well as a Red Light walking tour that evening as well.

We got to Zann Shans (I would call it basically the Netherlands version of Heritage Park). You get to see a little town how it would have been in the 1700/1800s. You also get to see working windmills and a clog making shop, cheese making, spice milling, chocolate making so it hits all those with 1 stop. We spent about 60E on cheese which was by far our largest item purchase on our whole tripf. It was very interesting - we made the mistake of taking the train and not the direct bus as we thought it would be faster, the problem is the train station is quite a distance and we missed the 2/hour bus connection. I highly reccomend this if you are at all interested in Dutch history with windmills, canal making, spice production etc. My wife wanted to go to Volendam so we took the train to Purmerend and then bus to Volendam. Cool little fishing village We made our way back to Amsterdam and got on the last 5pm boat tour around the old City.

Maybe its different in the summer but I wouldnt recommend the boat tour as while it gives you interesting tidbits you are quite low in the boat so its difficult to see things and on the 75 minute tour there maybe was 25 minutes of info through the headphones. After we headed to a eatery in old Amsterdam near the RLD on a recommendation given to us by the lady running the Chocolate making hut in Zaan Schans - amazing dutch food and very good prices. It was a little daunting as there was no written menu with prices and the waiters had everything memorized - but the food was very good and we had 2 appatizers, drinks, and meals for 45E and no tip required.

At 8pm we headed over to the Victoria Hotel for the Randy Roys Red Light tour. I wasnt really sure what to expect but the reviews on Trip Adviser were very good and at only 15E each we figured we had to do it, just to see it as were were a little hesitant to walk around the RLD ourselves. The tour was amazing - I highly reccomend it. Its put on by either a lady or an older gentleman and they walk you around the old City and the RLD giving you a history lesson, and very open and frank discussion on everything from the Coffeeshops to the RLD and just alot more history along with the RLD walk and history. For the same price as the canal tour its not even close as to which one was worth the money. This tour could have cost 40E and I still would recommend it over the 15 Canal tour.

After the tour we walked around the narrow alleys of the RLD just to soak in the strangeness of the whole place. To see the drunk English and the Russians being Russians. I had been here before on a school trip in 1994 and it was so different than what I remember. No one soliciting yelling at you, I couldnt find the memorable post cards that I remember. I went to in a Coffee shop and got one to go - their coffee is much stronger than what you can get in Canada so the next day I was still a bit stoked from all the caffeine. My wife doesnt drink coffee so she didnt partake. Normally I dont either but the Amsterdam has such a rich coffee heritage that you have to try it once.

The next day we booked a WW2 walking tour which went through alot about the Juud experience in Holland, the guy was very friendly and a bit nutty nerdy professor ish. I expected it to be more about the Dutch resistance and less about the Juud experience but none the less it was good. We had a 2pm Old amsterdam walking tour booked so we decided to hit the Naval museum in between - got there at 9am and it was very interesting - I expected it to be more about the naval/merchant fleet and less sort of history of maritime travel etc - none the less it was worth the money but not a museum I would go back to.

About a month earlier I found out about this weird museum tour they had tonight that started at 5pm and went to 2 am and you got admission to all the museums so we skipped other museums and headed to a Thai place that the RL tour recommended to us called the Little Thai Prince - not sure if in Spain we jsut had bad luck with the recommendations but in Amsterdam every place was a home run. Great Thai place and very lucky to get in with only 10 tables in the whole place (like all AMS eaterys it seems). After we got to our Old Amsterdam walking tour - for me this was far better than the canal tour for seeing Amsterdam and the history lessons of the reasoning for the city architecture and the canal and tram placements and it was only 20E pp.

After we stopped for a waffle dessert (again wowzers - hard to believe someone in Cgy couldnt make a go of a sweet waffle place with whip cream on top). So simple and yet so good - I have a sweet pallette and it was almost too sweet for me. For some reason I am used to plain waffles and not sweet ones with the sugar mixed in with the batter. I could have had 3 of them but only had 1 (damn wife).

At 530 we started our museum adventure. Our AirBNB flat landlord told us the Rijksmuseum was by far the best to see so we went there - very cool museum but we burned 3 hours in there. I had been to the Anne Frank house and while I remember it being "moving" I dont remember it being overly interesting and since the lineups everytime we went by were easily a few blocks long we decided to skip it and went to the Van Gogh museum instead. Again we burned alot of hours in there so the last one we went to was the Resistance museum which I highly reccomend for any WW2 history buffs. We left there at 130am and head to the RLD for waffles again - cant get enough and to browse the windows again - we even go to see a few satisfied clients leave which is just funny to see.

We got back to our flat at 3am and since we were leaving the next day we went to bed.

Overall I would give Amsterdam a A+ rating. I would 100% go back. There is so much to do in such a relatively small City. We had grand plans of takin the train to the Haag and Belgium but it was just such a fun city with things to do around it that we decided to stick around Amsterdam.

Im 33 and I could easily see Amsterdam as a place I would go back to. I would say anyone from 20-40yo with kids would find AMS an enjoyable vacation spot. I could easily spend a few weeks in AMS and use it as a base camp for the rest of Holland as there was a Market Garden tour I was really interested in taking but just couldnt.

Weather was a nice English summer - so rainy and dreery with patches of sun but it didnt seem to matter.

English: A+ even the 80yo guy at the Zaan Schans lumber mill could speak enough English. I didnt meet anyone working there who couldnt speak English.

Food: A - if it wasnt for the worlds worst Donair near the Ajax Amsterdam shop it would be given an A+ but that donair was just so terrible that they only get an A

Friendliness: A+ everyone was very helpful and friendly. Unlike in Spain I didnt feel like I as a tourist who couldnt speak the language was a burden to them, in fact everyone made me feel welcome. It might have been that we had gotten there 2 weeks before their Christmas but who cares - everyone was awesome. We bought 4 different Christmas decorations as our family will be having our first Christmas this year with a tree.
__________________
MYK - Supports Arizona to democtratically pass laws for the state of Arizona
Rudy was the only hope in 08
2011 Election: Cons 40% - Nanos 38% Ekos 34%

Last edited by mykalberta; 11-04-2013 at 01:13 PM.
mykalberta is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
amsterdam , europe , europe advice , spain , vacation

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:42 PM.

Calgary Flames
2017-18




Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright Calgarypuck 2016