Day 1.  Arriving in Amsterdam

We needed to be up at 03.15 a.m. for our early morning flight to Amsterdam from Leeds Bradford Airport.  Deciding to drive, we left our car at the Sentinel long stay car park, managing to find a discount code to reduce the price slightly.

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KLM Cityhopper Embraer 190 between Leeds Bradford and Amsterdam

Our flight with the Dutch national carrier KLM on an Embraer 190 Cityhopper service departed on time at 6.40 a.m. and in just under one and a half hours we landed into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.  During the short flight we were served a snack box containing a cheese sandwich, biscuit and water, with hot drinks served slightly later.

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Snack on board KLM Cityhopper flight

On arrival in Schiphol we purchased Amsterdam and region travel tickets from the IAmsterdam Tourist Office (details here).  We actually needed travel cards covering 5 days but only one, two and three day tickets exist so we bought a 3 day and a 2 day card each costing €33 and €26 respectively.  These tickets enable passengers to travel on trains, buses, trams, ferries and the metro.  The cards are valid from their first use and passengers then need to tap in and out of all modes of transport on each journey.  We looked into the possibility of buying the OV-chipkaart but decided against one as these cost €7.50 each which is non refundable, do not have a daily cap, and if there is any money remaining on the card it is very difficult to get it refunded.

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Hotel2Stay, Sloterdijk, Amsterdam

Our accommodation was near Sloterdijk station so we took the train two stops from the airport to our home for the next four nights at Hotel2Stay, a new apart-hotel which had only been open a few months.  As it was only 10.30 a.m. when we arrived at the hotel’s reception it was no surprise that our room was not ready, but we were able to leave our luggage until later in the day.

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Amsterdam Central Station

The hotel was only five minutes walk from Sloterdijk’s transport hub having rail, bus, metro and tram connections available.  Trains into Amsterdam Central Station take only 6 minutes and depart every few minutes, making Sloterdijk a convenient location for our stay.  This was my third visit to Amsterdam, the first time I travelled by ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and last time I flew from Manchester but that was 20 years ago so a return visit was long overdue.

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Boats along Amsterdam’s canals

Glancing at our map, we strolled from the station along Damrak which leads into Dam Square.  Along the way we passed bars, cafes and numerous cheese shops selling round discs of local Gouda and Edam cheese.  I also noticed cannabis flavoured ice cream on offer from a street vendor and erotic sex shops making me wonder what sort of a place we had come to!

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Beautiful old Dutch architecture in Amsterdam

Dam Square was crowded with people enjoying a temporary funfair, a Ferris wheel obscuring our view of the square’s stunning architecture.  From there, we turned left to Oude Kerk (old church) passing De Waag (weigh house) and the Rembrandt House on our way to Waterlooplein.  Rain then started to fall as we crossed the Amstel so we took shelter under the stalls of the Singel flower market browsing the many varieties of flowering bulbs and cut flowers on offer.  Last time I was here I was tempted into buying large bags of gladioli and tulips to plant in our garden at home but this year I decided against further purchases as we have heavy clay soil which isn’t ideal for bulb growing.

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Magna Plaza Shopping Centre, Amsterdam

We then took shelter in Magna Plaza, a neo-gothic masterpiece and the former Amsterdam main post office.  Built in 1895 it is one of the Netherlands 100 Dutch heritage sites.  The opulent interior has retained many original features and since 1992 it has been home to luxury retailers.

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Opulent interior of Magna Plaza Shopping Mall, Amsterdam

Across the road from here lies the Nieuwe Kerk a 15th century church in Dam Square, from where we caught a tram the short distance back to Central Station.  Walking through the station and leaving by its rear door free ferries shuttle across the broad stretch of water known as the IJ (Amsterdam’s waterfront).

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One of the free ferries between Amsterdam and the north bank of the IJ

The IJ is connected to the North Sea to the west and the IJmeer to the east by a series of locks.  Ferries carry up to 310 passengers, cyclists and mopeds and leave every few minutes.  There are three ferry routes departing from outside the station and we chose to travel on the service to Buiksloterweg on the north bank.  Strolling along the tree lined promenade of Amsterdam’s north bank we took a look in the modernist EYE Film Institute Netherlands building which opened in 2012.  This iconic building contains the Dutch film archive and museum of film and has an attractive cafe on its ground floor offering splendid views across the bay to the city centre.

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Amsterdam EYE Film Institute Netherlands and A’DAM Tower

Located next to the EYE is the A’DAM Tower featuring an observation deck and sky bar on its 20th floor, the lift taking just 23 seconds.  Hanging from the sky deck is Europe’s highest swing providing thrill seekers with an exhilarating ride 100 metres high above the ground.

A little more strolling along the waterfront followed and after taking the ferry back to Central Station we returned by train to Sloterdijk where we were able to check into our room.  The studio was just as described, very well equipped and with stylish furnishings.  The hotel has a rooftop terrace, sauna, gym and cosy lounge area.  After settling in, we popped out to a nearby supermarket for a few things and later returned to Amsterdam Central by train.  Sloterdijk is rather like a modern version of London’s Clapham Junction with trains departing every few minutes.

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Studio room at Hotel2Stay Amsterdam Sloterdijk

Our evening walk took us from the Central Station down Warmoesstraat to Waterlooplein and after stopping off for drinks we caught the metro back to the railway station to return to our hotel for the night after an enjoyable first day in Amsterdam.

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96 thoughts on “Day 1.  Arriving in Amsterdam

  1. sian

    i am flying to Amsterdam tomorrow, have a lot I want to do and not that much time! Haven’t been to Holland since i was a little girl, very excited to explore though I still need to work on my itinerary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aah, Amsterdam. I haven’t been there for decades, other than change planes at Schiphol. Should go and check those canals again. Friends who’ve been recently say that it is so much better than before. Funny enough, my daughter spent a week there, probably at the same time as you. She visited some friends on her way back from Morocco to Scotland. Did a lot of cycling and loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The OV Chipkaart is really great to have if you’re using public transit in more than one spot. There is an upfront cost but the hop on hop off convenience across the country is great, especially for a first time traveller. It’s easy to use on the trains between cities as well. You can have any leftover balance refunded easily at the NS window near the train platforms at Schiphol for a minor fee. I’ve kept my card and used it over several trips easily. They have an app you can use to check your balance as well (it needs to be over 20 euro for travel on the NS trains). Another thing to keep in mind is that the ticket kiosks at Schiphol are picky. You need to use a chip and pin card to pay. A magnetic stripe card won’t work but a debit card with a chip will work using your ATM pin.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I adore Amsterdam, haven’t been since February, Dam square was one of my favourite places, and there was an exhibition not far from the Rijks museums with Banksy and Dali that i highly recommend if you’re into art

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cool, we visited The Netherlands for the 1st time a few days back and were blown away. If you enjoy eating cheese, we would highly recommend a visit to either Edam or Gouda, one of the most unique experiences we had on a pretty amazing trip. Looking forward to the rest of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good job! Years ago I was with an interline group on KLM – NYC and Amsterdam. We went to the flower auction, a cheese production place, the Delft factory, the Rijksmuseum. Your trip refreshed my memory of that fun time. Keep on traveling.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I imagine you’ll post all sorts of lovely things to do! I look forward to reading about them. Can you tell me one thing? How are the streets? I’ll be pushing a pram while there, and it’s nice to be prepared for cobble stones and narrow sidewalks.
        Enjoy the rest of your stay!
        Emily

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t believe that either Marcus, sometimes places that are close at hand are easily overlooked. We only made our first visit to Dublin 5 years ago and it’s so near and inexpensive to fly to – but we loved it and have been back twice since! M.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. travelrat

    It sounds a bit clichéd, but I do recommend a canal cruise. Got a couple of recommendations for places to eat, too. ‘The Pancake Bakery’ and the ‘Haesje Claes’. And, if you can find a satay stall … (like the barrel organs, they seemed to have disappeared from the streets, but our last visit was in March, so maybe it was a bit early for them? )

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post. My first visit to Amsterdam was a very very pleasant surprise. I love the canals and could spend hours walking the off-road alleys and narrow passages in the city center. I had a resident of the city give me the “grand tour” so we visited places most non-citizens do not see. Great experience. Thank you, one again, for posting your travels. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Looking forward to reading more about what you got up to Marion. We took the ferry from Hull recently and enjoyed that very much. We travelled around Holland but had 3 nights in Amsterdam. Your hotel looks lovely, we opted for a houseboat which was a complete disaster – I will get around to writing about it eventually!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Joy, It’s good to read that you have also visited Holland recently but sorry to hear about your disastrous houseboat stay – the idea sounds lovely! I’ll look forward to reading your posts too! I always look forward to them. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad to read a positive write-up on Amsterdam- one of the Most Beautiful Cities in the World. But if you live here, you sometimes get used to everything and seeing it on someone else’s experience puts your focus back on how beautiful it really is 😀 . Your photo of the tulip flower pots in front of the Amsterdam Central Station are no longer there. They were put there during the Amsterdam Tulp (tulip) Festival in April, but the Central Station remains majestic. (You must have gone there early morning to take a clean shot before the rush hour). Thank you for sharing a wonderful time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for this post. I’ve been wanting to go to Amsterdam since forever. At least you gave me a mini trip! However, after the canal boat ride, I’d live to visit the art museums. Rembrandt and Van Gogh…. Thanks for lovely picrures. Hope I can make it some day too.

    Liked by 2 people

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