Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Netherlands - Amsterdam

In 2013, we finally made a city trip to Amsterdam in our neighbor country Holland. Do you know, we'd never been in Amsterdam before, although it's so close to Belgium? Like I mentioned in a previous blog, when we were younger we mainly took our vacations overseas - North and South America, Africa, Asia.

We left on a Wednesday afternoon around two p.m. Normally we should have been there around five o'clock, but due to a train accident (what's it with train accidents, these days?) we only arrived by six. Because we had no clue how far it would be to the hotel (= the Hilton, now we know it's in Amsterdam South, and can easily be reached by tram 16 or  2) we took a taxi. We could immediately check into our room, emptied our suitcase, took a shower and then headed towards the restaurant. They serve decent food there in the Hilton.

The following days we took our time in exploring the city. We took a tour on the many canals (really worth the money) because the sun was out on Thursday morning, and afterwards visited the Anne Frank house. Also we walked along the 'grachten ' (the Dutch name for the canals). On Friday we intended to see the Rijksmuseum, but when we noticed the long rows of waiting people, we decided not to waste our time unduly and alternatively went to another museum; a 17th century house along the Herengracht, which allows the visitor to see how people lived in past centuries. We also went into Madame Tussaud's and walked in Vondelpark. We found some good restaurants to dine at - Thijs at the Prinsengracht and Te Pas at Lijnbaansgracht (has by now moved). Also Gaucho's  (Argentinian restaurant) was more than ok. Out of these three I'd give my best marks to Te Pas. It was a small restaurant, family owned. We ordered a surprise menu, and got only the best ingredients and the most exceptional wines. Ever heard of Sauvignon Gris? And the best, we only paid 144 € for 2 people! I don't know how they could manage, with all those fine ingredients and those very good wines....

Underneath are a few pics from our stay. We were not so fortunate with the weather, as the weather in the north of Europe had not been up to much good. But still it was a good trip.

About the first thing we did on our arrival, was take a tour by boat on the many canals of the city. No wonder it's called the Venice of the north! Some sights:

Quite narrow, some of these passages! And the bridges are not too high either...

Most trams make their end stop at the Central Station - this is also where most tourists from within Europe arrive by train. From overseas, you'd arrive at Schiphol airport. Btw, our hotel was on one of the descent routes for the airport, but luckily the glazing at the Hilton was soundproof!

Not far from the Central Station, by walking a short while, you can find the Royal Palace. From its bacony the new king, Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima, greeted the public after the coronation.

Another place you must surely visit is the Anne Frank house. The Jewish girl and her family were hidden in the back of this house for over three years, until someone gave away their hiding place to the Germans.

Btw, most houses in Amsterdam appear to be leaning against each other. This is because they are built on land won on water. To find solid stone, you have to go more than one kilometer deep, and this is not done. Strange sight, though!

We also visited a museum on the Herengracht, which was the mansion of a rich family and gives a perfect idea of how (rich) people in the 19th century lived!

 I hope this gives you an idea already. Both my sister and I liked being in Amsterdam and we shall certainly return one of the coming years.

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