I found myself in Amsterdam for a week in February and must say that I am loving it more and more each time I visit. It’s an absolutely lovely city where bicycles are king (even if that means I have to dodge them from time to time).
This trip I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott – Airport after a lot of deliberation over which hotel we should reserve. The accommodations are absolutely lovely and the hotel has a full service bar and restaurant. It borders a lovely park and you can’t rent bikes by the hour for a very cheap rate. The only issue is that it is far that close to the airport. You have to take a 10-15 minute shuttle to the airport and then board the train at Schipol if you want to get into the city. It ended up being around 45 minutes each morning to commute to our office on the outskirts of the city center. Also, if you want to take a cab back in the evenings be prepared for a hefty taxi bill. Despite how wonderful the actual hotel was, I don’t plan to stay there again unless I have a long layover and don’t plan to visit the city.
I’m lucky enough to travel with folks who don’t mind a good walk. To fight jet lag was dropped our bags off at the hotel early on Sunday, cleaned up a bit, and headed out to stay awake as long as possible. We took separate transport and our meeting place was Dam Square. Last time I was there it was set up with a big carnival with lots of little amusement rides. This time it was empty of attractions, but still full of people. We grabbed a little snack and drink at the Irish Pub (it was the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day) on the square and then began our walking tour. We didn’t have any set destination so just meandered about. Eventually we settled on the Heineken Experience. This was the first large brewery tour I’ve ever done and I had a lot of fun. It’s quite expansive and interactive and the tasting room that concludes the tour is fantastic. After the tour we took the free canal ride they have to the Heineken Store to claim our free souvenir glasses. The canal ride was quite pleasant and it’s always nice to see the city from the water. There are lots of options besides the short Heineken tour, so definitely find one that looks interesting and go for it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. For dinner we went to Three Sisters Pub and had a good meal. It was cool and overcast the day we were out, otherwise it would have been nice to enjoy their expansive outdoor seating area.
Anne Frank House
Monday night we went to the Anne Frank house. I had always wanted to visit, but have usually seen lines wrapped around the block. We arrive about an hour and half before they closed and there were no crowds at all. It was a very somber visit and extremely interesting. Anne Frank was such an exceptional writer for someone so young. It’s a must visit site if you are in Amsterdam.
All I can say about the Amsterdam dining scene is that you MUST visit Izakaya. My meal there was in the Top 10 best meals of my life. Housed in the Sir Albert Hotel, Izakaya offers an inventive menu of Asian fusion cuisine. My favorite part of the meal was the amazing Sweet Corn Tempura and beautiful desserts. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Go there now.