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Carla’s à la Carte Western Europe: Part 1
#Amsterdam and #affordable don't always go hand in hand. But recently when we took some friends to Europe with us, we made it one of our key stops. We took the ferry all over, which was free, and provided a #unique viewpoint. The best part was probably the hop on hop off bus tour, which showed us the best of what the city has to offer.
We recently encouraged our best friends to accompany us to Europe, to make the time now that our kids are grown but we are still young enough to enjoy it. “If not now, when?” became our mantra.
We love Amsterdam, and flew there out of Chicago. (About eight hours non-stop; I recommend flying out in the evening and sleeping if you can. You’ll arrive fairly awake in the morning and have less trouble with jet lag.) Ride the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal Station for about $8 and 15 minutes. For this visit we opted to stay in a privately owned houseboat across the harbor behind the train station.
A free ferry runs every 5 minutes and carries pedestrians, bicyclists and smaller motor vehicles – watch your step! The paved dock surface is painted green and red. Stand and wait in the green until the ferry empties, then walk on and move to the far end, which will where you will disembark.
While crossing on the ferry, you cannot miss the EYE Film Museum. It opened in 2012, and resembles a giant frog, with the EYE logo well-placed. The museum offers everything a film buff might want, including a well-stocked store with books, t-shirts, and, of course, films! Movies are shown throughout the day, and one can enjoy a snack or meal at their restaurant overlooking the harbor.
Movies are shown throughout the day, and one can enjoy a snack or meal at their restaurant overlooking the harbor.
Eye Film Institute Guided Tour
Amsterdam Eating Tours
Red Light District Tour
Of interest to some are the famous coffee shops, which, while they may sell coffee, are known for more “psychedelic” wares. You will want to avoid the coffee shops if traveling with children. Also, be aware of the red light district, known locally as De Wallen. It is easily walked into without warning, so check your city map if you have youngsters in your group. While during daylight hours the hazards to young eyes are mostly shops selling sex toys and such, we have personally witnessed nude, sexually demonstrative women in second and third floor windows midday.
Amsterdam has so much to offer, and for any age and type of traveler. Walking through the city center, with its shops, restaurants, churches and cafes, you may be impressed by the variety of nationalities spending time in the shopping district and open-air markets. You will hear a multitude of languages as you window shop or sip your cappuccino on the walk outside a bakery.
Amsterdam has so much to offer, and for any age and type of traveler
As a popular tourist destination, Amsterdam does have an abundance of shops catering to the vacation buyer. All types of souvenirs are available, along with plenty of opportunities for a fun photo!
Amsterdam does have an abundance of shops catering to the vacation buyer.
For a slightly more realistic view of life in the region, spend 10 Euro on a hop on and off city bus pass, available at the kiosk behind the train station.
Hop on hop off bus Tour in Amsterdam
Bike Tours in Amsterdam
Ride the bus to Marken where you can see a wooden shoe maker’s shop (stand in the oversized wooden shoes), or Volendam, a great tourist destination with gift shops and restaurants. In Marken, you may choose to ride the ferry to Volendam, or vice-versa. Light food and drink are available on board. Whether you take the bus or the ferry, you’ll have some time to rest your feet and watch the sights.