Last Day in Europe
Finally, we woke up to the last day of our Europe Tour. Our departure flight out of Amsterdam to Zurich was 8.05 pm. Connecting flight from Zurich to Singapore was 10.45 pm. So this left us with an entire day to explore Amsterdam one last time before saying good bye to this beautiful city.
As for breakfast, we consumed all those food we bought from the supermarket since this was our last day in Europe. Coffee and tea were self service in our room. Although breakfast was simple, it was good to get us started. It was still pretty quiet on the street when we looked out from our room windows. We decided to explore some attractions nearby before returning to check out and then leave our luggage with Hotel CC. We would then explore attractions further away from the hotel.
Exploring Attractions near Hotel CC
Out on the street so early, we encountered the same situation the day before. The streets were filthy and smelly. However, city cleaners were already out on the streets getting into gear with their cleaning up operation. Auto street sweeping machines were deployed and the streets would be ready to welcome visitors quite soon.
This morning, we walked through the red light district which was pretty dead at this hour. The first place we visited was the Oude Church. This was quite a sizeable church but what was the church doing right in the red light district, we failed to figure out. Anyway, this 800 year-old church is one of the main attractions here. This is a significant historic building. It was closed when we were there but we would probably not pay to enter the building. The church building was however, pretty nice.
We then crossed the canal and then another canal and enjoyed the quiet neighbourhood. As expected, the streets were quite empty. It was still very early and shops were not open yet. This was a rather different experience as we had a very excited busy and noisy day in Amsterdam the day before.
We continued walking to find the Nieumarkt and reached an open area in another quiet neighbourhood. To our disappointment, this market wasn’t open on the day of our visit. So we walked back towards the main train station enjoying canal sights and a peaceful morning in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Centraal Station
When we reached the main road, the main train station was busking beautifully under the summer sun. We didn’t go over to the train station but we would have to return take a train to the airport in the late afternoon. So we just enjoyed the sights and the sounds here where this area was much busier then the neighbourhood we had just visited. In front of the train station is the very grand Park Plaza Victoria Hotel.
We then turned left to walk around the perimeter of the docking area behind Hotel CC. Nearby was an open dining area where some people were having breakfast. The scene around this area was beautiful. Canal cruise boats were coming and going with tourists setting out to enjoy Amsterdam. Cafes and shops across the main road were already open doing brisk business. Amsterdam was indeed awakening.
After walking around this boating area, we returned to Hotel CC. Back in our room, after packing up all our stuff, we returned to the lobby to check out and left our luggage with the hotel. The staff here were very friendly and helpful. They kept our luggage securely in their storage room and then wished us a great day in Amsterdam.
Flea market at Waterloo Place
So we were finally free to head further out to explore other areas we didn’t cover the previous day. It was canal after canal sights again as we walked on towards another market, the Waterlooplein Market. Along the way, we took pictures of very temptingly delicious cakes, pastries and waffles. There are plenty of such mouth-watering bakery items in Amsterdam. We encountered more tourists now as we made our way through different neighbourhood.
Soon, we reached Waterloo area and stalls were set up there. This was more like a flea market selling local stuff like clothes, art and craft, books, records and such. What attracted us was the stall selling juice smoothies for one Euro. We patronized this stall and indulged ourselves with a soothing cold drink while browsing around the market.
Next was enjoying the pretty sights around the canal here near the Nationale Opera & Ballet. The bridge was rather nice. The was a busy canal with quite a lot of boat traffic. The surrounding buildings provided a beautiful setting along the canal. It was a picture of calm in the midst of the busy flowing canal traffic.
Attractions near Waterloo Place
We continued to explore this area passing the Jewish Historical Museum and the Portuguese Synagogue. The buildings here were pretty but the place wasn’t too busy yet while we were there during the morning. Nevertheless, there were some visitors here like us roaming and checking out the market stalls nearby.
So we continued our stroll around the area and reached the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam. This attraction is located in a small park, the Wertheimpark, across the canal. This is where the Auschwitz Monument is located as well. The park here was very quiet. We were the only visitors there and we were a little surprised.
We then walked back to the canal and settled down in an Argentinean Restaurant for lunch. We saw staff getting the restaurant ready when we passed by earlier. The restaurant was ready to serve lunch but we were the only diners being rather early. It was a normal ribs and steak lunch but the standard can’t be compared to the Argentinean restaurants we had our meals in Berlin. It wasn’t an expensive lunch though so we moved on after this meal.
Beautiful Rembrandt Place
We crossed the nice beautiful canal towards Rembrandtplein. This was a much nicer neighbourhood with an open square area where visitors congregate. Some were even lying on the grass to enjoy the summer sun. Cafes and restaurants were aplenty here. Had we known about this area, we would have eaten our lunch here in a better ambiance and possibly even a much better lunch.
Over here, we saw the head office of Booking.com. I had a phone call connected with the staff here last year to sort out some booking matters while we were checking in to our accommodation in Tangkou, Huangshan last year. We have nothing but praise for the professionalism of the staff in Booking.com who resolved our concerns very quickly. Hotel Atlanta is also located here, a really good location with plenty of dining options in the area.
Moving on, we walked towards the Flowers Market. We saw the Munttoren Tower as we ventured towards the Flowers Market. Before reaching the market, we went into a supermarket. Here was where we bought some more goodies, waffles and snacks and more chocolates and teabags to bring home.
Souvenirs and Tulips at Flowers Market
After that, we crossed the canal and we were back to the Flowers Market. The market was busy but not as busy as it was during our visit the previous afternoon. We spent some time here shopping for souvenirs. Tulips were still available at the market. After speaking with the staff about our concerns as we had to bring the tulips into a plane, he assured us he would wrap and pack the tulips nicely so we won’t face any trouble bringing these beautiful flowers to board our flight.
We chose a bunch of tulips yet to bloom and paid 10 Euro for 50 stocks of tulips. Actually, it was cheaper to buy at the market in Utrecht but we would have to keep these flowers with us for two days before flying home. We were nevertheless very happy to purchase these tulips here in Amsterdam.
Filled with excitement carrying these precious flowers with us, we continued exploring this wonderful city. These tulips were very nicely packed and we were confident we would face no trouble bringing them to board our flight later. We wondered how our home would look with these exotic flowers where we only get to see them at the Gardens By The Bay once a year.
Royal Palace Area
Now with most of our shopping already done, we walked along the second canal ring back towards the Royal Palace that we missed out the previous day. It was a pleasant summer day as we enjoyed our stroll taking in the sights and the sounds in this beautiful city. Soon, we were near the Royal Palace.
The first thing was to head into the very grand and high end shopping mall Magna Plaza. From the outside, this building is so attractive and it doesn’t look like a shopping mall. Once we entered the mall, this high end retail space was pretty obvious. Opulence would be the word to describe this mall. The interior was just as magnificent as the exterior of the building. We roamed around a short while and then left this very grand mall.
Crossing the street, we were in front of the Royal Palace again after walking past the New Church. The open area in front of the Royal Palace was always busy attracting crowds of visitors. Horse carriages were seen in the square waiting for tourists to hire them for a ride around the city in style. After taking a few shots of the area, we walked back into the small lane where we bought our luggage the day before.
Last Minute Shopping in Amsterdam
This small lane was very busy as well. We were a little tired so we conveniently parked ourselves at the MacDonald’s for a break over some drinks. There were quite a lot of young people at this fast food restaurant. We rested for some time using their free wifi and watched the busy street scene below.
After having sufficient rest, we went back to explore the street and continued last minute shopping in Amsterdam. My dear wife’s feet were having blisters after all the walking so when we saw there were great offers for sandals, we went in for a look. She managed to buy a nice pair of sandals and wore this new sandals much to her relief for the rest of the tour in Amsterdam.
We also went back to Primark for another round of shopping. Our boy shopped for more clothes and my wife did likewise. I found a convenient spot where I could sit and also charge my mobile phone. We spent a long time here shopping and this place was really crowded with shoppers.
Prices of the merchandise here were really very reasonable. I was even coerced into buying another two pairs of jeans I don’t really need. I was naturally quite skeptical about buying pants and jeans when the fashion trend was geared towards tight fit outfit. Having tried some pants while shopping in Jakarta and when I looked more like an elf, I gave up. Anyway, I managed to get those normal jeans with straight cuttings so I was pretty happy about it.
New York Pizza Dinner
It was past 4 pm when we were done with shopping at Primark. We planned to head to the train station before 5.30 pm. So we went back to New York Pizza for a quick dinner. The meal was good in fact more satisfying than the lunch earlier. Actually, we were more tired and thirsty than hungry. So this simple dinner was more than sufficient for us. We would be fed again during flight so we were not worried about going hungry.
After dinner, we walked back to Hotel CC not very far away. We were so familiar with the area now it didn’t take long before we were back to Hotel CC. After getting our luggage, we did some packing with the additional shopping done during the day. Once done, we took a short walk back to the main train station. Before long, we were on our way to the airport.
Flying Home from Amsterdam
Clearing custom and immigration was a breeze. Once inside the secured zone of the airport, it was shopping time again. My wife was looking for a Longchamp bag. Unfortunately, the shop didn’t have the size and the colour she wanted so she didn’t buy any bag. She was however offered an alternative but she didn’t take up the offer. So we boarded our short flight to Zurich shortly and landed without any incident.
Over in Zurich Airport, our transit time was rather short. My wife made a quick enquiry at one of the shops selling Longchamp bags. What she wanted wasn’t available as well. Actually, she regretted not taking up the alternative offer at Amsterdam Airport earlier. Without much time to shop here, we went to the holding gate to wait for our flight home. Soon, we were airborne on our way home after 10 exciting days travelling from Vienna all the way to Amsterdam.
Europe Tour Summary
Beginning from Vienna, this classical city introduced us into the aesthetic beauty of Europe. Although that day was a little chilly on a summer day, it opened the windows of Europe to our Europe Tour. The meals in Vienna were fine but a little dry and salty.
The Student Agency Bus ride to Prague was surprisingly pleasant given this was our first time taking a bus from this company. The city of Prague was stunning, a beauty city far surpassed our expectations. This historical city stamped its mark of beauty and brought us great satisfaction during our Europe Tour.
Our bus ride from Prague to Berlin with Student Agency Bus was equally pleasant. Although we were still struck with the amazing beauty of Prague, Berlin City was an educational experience. History of Germany came to live there. The food was good and the city pleasant.
The stopover at Cologne en route to Rotterdam by train was to reminisce our previous stay in the city. Unfortunately, being a bank’s holiday when we arrived, the city was quiet with shops closed. However, the Rhine River scene over sunset was very enjoyable and the dinner there was great.
Rotterdam opened up the interesting and amazing sights of the Netherlands during this Europe Tour. Rotterdam City centre was lively and the Erasmus Bridge and the river scene were nice. The food was great too. The day trip to Utrecht was fantastic. It was a great little city, another city of stunning beauty.
Amsterdam was the grand finale of this Europe Tour. The city was indeed awesomely beautiful. Shopping was great here as we enjoyed the canal scenery in different parts of Amsterdam. Unlike Venice, the canals here are more orderly and predictable and of course beautiful, exciting and at the same time peaceful and calm.
Home Sweet Home
So back home with all our shopping spoils, the tulips were the most unusual and unique. Never had we dreamed we could have tulips to adorn our home for a couple of days. The tulips bloomed so quickly, and we bade goodbye to these beautiful exotic flowers for a short season. The fragrance of these tulips left a lasting memory behind and of course pictures to remind us of these very unique souvenirs we brought home.
This 10 Days Europe Tour was fruitful and far exceeded our expectation. For $667 flying to Europe via Swiss Air, it was a great deal indeed. Four years ago, we likewise flew Swiss Air to Europe for around $700 covering cities like Budapest, Innsbruck, Venice, Salzburg and Munich. So until the next airfare sales, we will focus on Asia for the moment. Two upcoming tours to China in November and December will keep us very busy. So stay tune for the next report.