Day 1. All day flight from Avl to Atl, 2 hr break then to Jfk. 4 hour break then to Amsterdam!
Day 2. We are tired. 26 hours between flightsand layovers…7.5 hours on an overnight plane from JFK to Amsterdam left us with restless sleep. However We were so excited to arrive.
Our tour director was there to meet us. Monica was a beautiful Italian lady with a great English vocabulary who spoke Several languages. our bus driver only spoke Bosnian.That turned out to be an issue. However We dropped our luggage at our Ibis South hotel and immediately headed back out.
We walked a lot. We started near Central station in Amsterdam.We stopped at a local bakery…the ham and cheese croissant was huge. I bought that and a coffee for only 5 euros. We walked up and down streets to see the canals.We stopped by a painter’s stand and bought some amazing fine detail amsterdam art.
We found 1 shopping district and restaurants. most of us opted for the asian option. There was a McDonalds and Burger king if someone was afraid to test options. oh and yes Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. However they don’t honor the app here. Having my credit card on my Watch and phone has been great. I believe I had to pull out myCredit card 1 time those 2 days .
Personally I felt prices of items were Cheaper here. Housing and taxes are higher though.
Driving cars was an adventure; however 1.2 million bicycles flood the streets. Population is 867 thousand. Many people have a work bike, a racing bike, and a beer bike…that way it one is tossed into a canal drunkenly, it did in not cost a lot. Bikes range from 80 euros
to 4000 euros (e – bikes). Trams are another popular mode of transportation.
Being tired, we rested in VondelPark. Some fed the ducks while others napped in the grass. Dinner was at the Central Station at 1 Klas. It was a meatball Set upon a”mash” of carrots,potatoes,onion.It was rather good. This was the EF Tour meal… which we learned was 1 srandard neal for all tgat they pretty much prepared right before your arrival time. They were ready with them when we arrived at 6pm and your choices were vegetarian or meat. If there were any allergies we were supposed to make sure they were aware prior. We had to remind the wait staff of the few dietary restrictions. We had a small dessert
as well. Because the restaurant is prepared for us there is little waiting and we’re done in less than an hour. After this we returned to our hotel via our bus, showered and got ready for bed. One adult and several students walked to a grocery store for snacks. We were in bed by 1030 pm.
The rooms were tiny. I was in a triple room where there were 3 single beds. 2 were pushed together to make a double or queen. Space was tight but we didn’t care. We were so tired and slept hard the first night.
Hotel breakfast was actually pretty great. We ate around 8:15 am. Options included deli meats, sliced cheese, yogurt, baguettes, hard boiled eggs, croissants, sliced bread, a coffee machine that offered expresso, coffee latte, machiatto, and hot
Chocolate. milk, Juice and
We started with a bus tour of Amsterdam witha local guide Frank. We learned a lot about the city. Not to mention Mic Jagger was quarantined in one of the hotels with covid. He tested positive right before his concert.
We moved on to the Anne Frank House. It was surreal to be walking in her secret hiding
place ” annex ”
We moved on to Free time and with Frank’s suggestion and used the Sprinter Tram to go from Amsterdam Centraal to Haarlem.
Haarlem had the oldest Windmill. We ate at a restaurant at the base of the windmill by the river and chose Dutch specialties such as Bitterballins.
We had approximately 2.5 hours in Haarlem. We had to be back to Centraal station by 5:30pm. It was 15-20 minutes from station to station.The cost was 6 euros for a round trip ticket. This went very smoothly except one of the students’ tickets wouldn’t scan him out of the tram station, so we snuck him out.
We made it back just in time and had a 30 + minute bus ride to our dinner location, surprisingly rather than a classic Dutch meal, it was Morrocan with a curry and tomato base of carrots and other vegetables and potatoes with a chicken thigh. Apple Pie for dessert. We were done with EF scheduled events after and asked the bus to return us to downtown Amsterdam. We had booked a Canal Cruise with Flagship and took an hour long educational and fun ride as a group. We were notified mid-ride that our bus driver could not stay out to bring us home and leave on time for Belgium, so we took a tram home to the hotel… However we learned later that our bus driver actually did not listen to our tour director and go home. Instead he sat and waited til 1045pm for us. Apparently he didn’t understand any of the ‘cancel’ messages she sent him in multiple languages.
It was late but everyone packed and showered quickly to get to bed for preparation to get up super early for our trip to Brussells. However our bus driver alerted us that he could not start work til 9am due to his late night The night before…so we got a more hours of sleep.
Some prep for this town…
Lots of bike traffic..they will run you over so watch for them. They actually get priority in this city.
Bathrooms are not easy to find. And they are not always free. We paid 1 euro in a shopping Center to use it and .5 euros in a McDonalds. However they are free in other areas and often not gender specific. In the Anne Frank House the cue line was multi gendered.
Water is not free. Crazy right? And ice is not readily available.I filled my Water bottle daily at the breakfast buffet. The hotel nor restaurants use ice in drinks/ beverages. It you want it cold, it comes from a cooler. Refilling water means buying water at the store.
Ok lets put that all together…
💧 is hard to get, toilets are hard to get…coffee is easy to get. Everyone is riding a bike. I feel like we’re promoting dehydration. I was afraid to drink more because I didn’t know when my next bathroom break would be.. .
There’s so much we learned that would he neat if adopted in the U.S., such as the ” Okay-ness ” with diversity.
The biggest crime in Amsterdam was bike stealing. But although itis a crime, there doesn’t seem to be much prosecution of this crime.
Although it is very expensive to live there, there was a very small population of homeless.
Very nice people. most spoke English well.
Emergencies were handled Well and respectfully. The emergency staff even recognized and respected my skillset in my athletic training healthcare profession.
Off to Brussells…