129 people found this review helpful
Amsterdam is a good place for a short stay where you don't require a tour guide to see all the main attractions – and it needn't cost a fortune. My friends and I travelled by easyJet to Schipol airport, then by train to our hotel. The station is situated directly below the airport via a lift. Tickets can be obtained from either the office or machines. The machines are easy to understand but some don't take cash. We stayed at Zaandam, which is just a couple of stops on the train from the airport or the centre of Amsterdam. The Inntel Hotel Zaandam was very reasonable – a double room only cost us 412 EUR for 4 nights. This new hotel is of unusual design – like a lot of small houses on top of one another (see photo). It has a restaurant, bar, swimming pool, fitness area, sauna and steam bath. Our room was spacious with free wifi, air conditioning, shower/bath, minibar, safe, TV, hairdryer and free coffee or tea facilities. It was welcoming with efficient service and I would thoroughly recommend it. We had our first evening meal at the Grand Cafe-restaurant 1e Klas located in Amsterdam Central station-as it was easy to find. This was formally the Kings Waiting Room and the beautiful decor was authentic grandeur from 1881. It was friendly and professional with delicious main courses around 19 EUR. Zaandam itself has recently been transformed, and the building of the new canal down the main street is nearly completed. You can tell it is going to quite attractive. As a change from the hotel buffet breakfast we ate at 't groene Pandje on Gedempte Gracht within a short walk of the hotel. The menu is varied, the food attractively served and a reasonable price. Our favourite restaurant in the evening was Wonder's eten & drinken in the pretty square nearby, We can recommend this establishment for the food ambience and reasonable price. In Zaandam we drank at The Black Smith, a small pub on Hogedijk. In central Amsterdam we went to Arendsnest halfway along Herengracht at no.90 and in De Wilderman at Kolksteeg 3. (In these very old pubs, the beer is great but the toilets are either up or down narrow winding stairs) Beer drinkers also head for Brouwerij Proeflokaal 't Ij , a brewey tap at Funenkade 7. Next door is the only windmill in central Amsterdam. (get there on the 10 or 14 tram) Getting around Amsterdam is simple; you either walk, get on the "hop on hop off" canal boat or buy an all day tram ticket from the office opposite Centraal station. Alternatively you can buy an Iamsterdam City Card that gives discounts on entry to museums etc. We visied the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Sexmuseum (for the latter you need to be broadminded with a good sense of humour!) On this subject, no visit to this city would be complete without a walk around the Red Light district – we were offered a pensioner discount by a doorman but didn't take up the offer! We went to the Albert Cuystraat street maket with a wide varirty of things to see, but there are also 8 other markets. We took a trip to Zaanse Schans – a real "tourist trap". It is only 4 stops (20 minutes) by train from Amsterdam in the direction of Alkmaar to Koog-Zaandijk station. There is plenty to see and do at this historic and typically Dutch location: several museums to visit, old traditional crafts to see such as cheese and clog making, a pewter workshop, working windmills producing paint, oil, wood and mustard, attractive little shopping streets with authentic green painted wooden houses. And ,of course, souvenirs galore! All in all we had a great time and would thoroughly recommend Amsterdam for a short break.
129 people found this review helpful
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