We woke up to an exciting day as we prepared to head to our final destination – Amsterdam. As usual, we went to the restaurant for the Express Breakfast. We liked the clean and pleasant ambiance there and the breakfast was pretty good even though it was just an express breakfast. With breakfast done, we went back to our room, did some last minute final packing and then returned to the lobby to check out.
The staff were really friendly. Holiday Inn Express was a great place for us to spend two nights here with very reasonable hotel rate. The location of this hotel was great being so close to the train station. We got to explore Rotterdam and Utrecht the past two days. Staying over in Amsterdam would cost us more than three times the cost for accommodation for these two nights.
Rotterdam to Amsterdam
We then left and walked to the train station to head to our most expensive accommodation in Amsterdam. That was why we only stay one night there. Very quickly, we reached the train station. We had already purchased train tickets the previous day so we went straight to the platform and shortly after boarded a train to Amsterdam.
The journey was just an hour and the ride was pleasant. We were eager to get to Amsterdam early to spend more time exploring this great city. Once we got out of the train station, it was a very great feeling. This city was gorgeous. We walked towards the left to head to Hotel CC not far from the train station. We soon walked into a side lane but found the street filthy and smelly. A moment ago we were awed with the sight of this wonderful city but now taken by surprise with this darker side of the city.
Walking further down the street we reached Hotel CC. The staff were friendly and pleasant and even helpful. As expected, it was too early to check in arriving before 10 am. According to plan, we left our bags with the hotel while we went out to explore the city. While we were conversing with the hotel staff, a small cleaning vehicle was passing outside the street.
Exploring Amsterdam in the Morning
So when we stepped out of the hotel, the street was pretty clean again. This cleaning vehicle actually sprayed water to clean the street and at the same time vacuumed trash from the street. It was very efficient. We were glad to walk on clean street again although the street was a little wet after the washing.
At the street corner, we took a right turn out to the main road. On our right was the docking area for boats. It was a pretty scene. The weather was great with clear blue skies. We were jubilant as we made our way to the main road with great expectation to have a wonderful time in Amsterdam.
Once on the busy main road, trams and cars plied this thoroughfare. People were everywhere, mostly tourists like us as far as we could tell. Everyone seemed to be engrossed with this beautiful city. The air was filled with excitement.
Beautiful Dam Square Area
We walked on further down the road and soon reached the Dam Square. Further ahead is the Madame Tussauds and the National Monument. We spent some time here soaking up the beautiful sights and sounds here where tourists congregate. The Square was pretty open and busy as well.
Next we walked over to the Royal Palace with the New Church next door. This was another fabulous place that was very busy with tourists mingling and taking pictures of this very nice surrounding. With clear blue skies, these beautiful historic buildings were simply picture perfect.
Lunch and Shopping in Amsterdam
Having spent enough time here, we walked into a side lane. It was shopping time. We found some shops selling luggage with great prices. We made a mental note to return later to buy a luggage home as one of our smaller luggage was slightly damaged. Next we passed by MacDonald’s and then saw New York Pizza. We were hungry by then so we went in for quick bite. We loved the burgers and pizza and obviously, the food here would be much better than the McDonald’s. The lunch was pretty good!
After this satisfying meal, we walked on along this small street and found what we had been looking for – Primark. We had seen people carrying Primark bags in cities we were visiting but didn’t get a chance to enter Primark to do some shopping. So finally, it was shopping time before we flew back home the next evening. It was a great time buying clothes and stuff where prices here were beyond reasonable.
After we were done shopping, we returned to one of the shops we passed earlier and bought a medium luggage at only 39 Euro. So we conveniently dumped our shopping into the luggage and dragged our stuff back towards Hotel CC.
Heading to back Amsterdam Hotel CC
The main road was even busier now. Tourists and shoppers were everywhere. Not long after, we made it back to Hotel CC and our room was ready. We were given a room in the attic that could sleep four persons even though we booked a room for three.
We took our bags and got into lift that took us to the highest floor. From there, we had to carry our luggage up another two flights of steep stairs. Coming down was a little tricky. It would be better to come down the stairs backward with the face facing the stairs. Rooms up here are definitely not suitable for those with mobility issue or having huge and heavy luggage to bring up to the room.
Finally, we made it into our room. The room indeed could sleep four persons with four single beds lined up against the wall. Furnishing was basic but clean. The end of the room opened up to windows where we could look down into the street. While the room was more than sufficient for our needs, unfortunately, being up on the attic, the room was on an inclined gradient slopping from the windows to the front door. Though the slope might not be very great, it could be uncomfortable for some people. I felt a little giddy walking in the room.
Bathroom was clean with shower facility and the fittings were pretty alright. Wifi worked but TV mounted on the inclined wall wasn’t very useful, especially with the many channels in European languages. Anyway, we spent more time outdoor and didn’t watch much TV during this Europe Tour. So this was our most expensive accommodation throughout our Europe trip. We paid closed to 140 Euro after discounts.
The location was however, very good. But we only discovered the red light district was just a street away in front of the hotel which we didn’t realize when we made our booking. Anyway, we didn’t encounter any trouble or disturbance. The hotel was good, just a few minutes walk from the main train station and we won’t mind coming back to stay if the price is good.
Exploring Amsterdam in the Afternoon
After leaving our shopping behind, we left Hotel CC again to explore other parts of Amsterdam. This time, we walked further on along the side lane in front of the hotel. We passed by a convenience store and would come back to stock up on food and water when we returned to the hotel. When we tuned right at the end of the street, we were right in front of the National Monument. This spot was always busy with tourists hanging around listening to guides explaining the significance of this monument.
We continued walking along the main road passing shops and soon reached another very beautiful spot. The Equestrian Statue of Queen Wihelmina stood at the front of a canal where boats were bringing tourists to explore Amsterdam in a very different way. This whole place here was pretty scenic and tourists looked pleased with their tours on the canal. The sights here were really lovely as we strolled on alongside the canal.
Amsterdam Flowers Market
At the end where this canal turned, we saw the Munttoren Tower. The Flowers Market was the next attraction where we spent some time browsing. There were souvenirs here and of course beautiful flowers and not to mention the pretty tulips still available at the market. We would be flying home the next evening so we would come back again should we decide to buy some tulips home. This place here also attracted many tourists, a really good place to shop for souvenirs to bring home.
After walking through the Flowers Market, we turned right to walk further away from the city centre. We reached the next ring of the canal. It was another pretty sight but not as exciting as the previous canal. People were sitting on the edge dangling their legs into the canal. Boats were still plying here but just a little quieter at this neighbourhood.
Breaching First Canal Ring
So we strolled on across the canal passing shops and then another canal. It was a really nice walk around the city. Comparing with Utrecht we visited the previous day, Amsterdam is so much bigger. We were not done yet as we browsed shops along the way mingling with excited tourists happy to have a slice of Amsterdam to bring home with them.
Eventually, we arrived at an open Square. We had reached the Leiseplein. This place was very busy. Trams were coming and going endlessly with people everywhere. There were so many restaurants and eateries here. This was another exciting place to dwell for a while.
Great Dinner at Leiseplein
We chanced upon a restaurant at a corner with an offer eat all you can spare ribs for only 9.95 Euro. This offer was truly tempting and too good to miss. This wasn’t a too good to be true sales gimmick. So we took our seats outside the restaurant just like the alfresco lunch experience we had in Utrecht the day before. We wanted to relive this wonderful alfresco dining experience in Europe soaking up the sights and the sounds in this exciting part of Amsterdam.
Having placed our order, we waited for our food to arrive while we people watch the street scene here. It was pretty good. Burger King is just across the street. Unfortunately, smokers were hanging out at the street and too much to bear for us. We decided to move into the restaurant instead.
Our food came. It was very good. We had a second go for the spare ribs. While dining, there was a big group of diners entering the restaurant dressed up as super heroes cartoon characters. We saw Spider-man, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain America and many more. They were really some characters as they made their presence felt. Good thing they headed upstairs so there was some peace on the ground floor. This café was really interesting and more importantly, the food was good. The price was greater!
Heading to Vondelpark
With this nice dinner over, we left the café and walked further down away from the Leiseplein. We entered into a compound and found Hard Rock Café. At the open space, some kids were having fun with the huge international chess pieces on the ground. Apparently, a match was going on with spectators watching quietly. We stayed to watch for a while and then moved on.
Exiting this place, we came to another canal. This canal was another busy spot where tourists boarded and disembarked from river cruise boats. The city canal cruise ticketing office is just across the river from Hard Rock Café. We didn’t plan to take a river cruise so we didn’t find out the prices. We then moved on.
After crossing this canal, we reached the Vondelpark. It was already 7 pm when we entered the park. The park was still busy with plenty of day light being summer here in Europe. The restaurant in the park looked pretty nice. Some diners were having dinner outdoor enjoying the peace and calm here this part of the city.
The Vondelkerk next to the restaurant looked pretty cool too. We then spent some time walking around the pond. There were ducks near the pond and many park goers spending time lazing around and catching up with friends at the park. Some were having some games at the park too. Police presence in the park ensured order and prevented troubles which was very good.
We left the park after a while and continued our stroll back to the city centre. But before crossing over the canals, we visited the Museumplein nearby. This place is where Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum are located. The museums were already closed when we arrived. We still enjoyed the pleasant environment here.
Walking down towards the canal, we came to the famous I Am Amsterdam sign in front of the Rijksmuseum. This place was definitely a very nice spot to take a break to soak in the sights of this creative city Amsterdam. The surrounding with the pond in the middle was really pretty.
The sign in front of the pond was a magnet for people trying to take away a part of Amsterdam with them. Many people posed in front and some climbed up the sign for picture taking. They were mostly youngster gathering at the famous sign in Amsterdam no doubt proud to announce to the whole world they had been to Amsterdam.
After this we walked through the Rijksmuseum. We then walked across the canal and made our way back to the city centre in the direction of Hotel CC. The city was getting quieter as we walked back crossing canals after canals. After all, it was already 8.30 pm so the city should be coming to a close except the red light district.
Back to Amsterdam Hotel CC for the Night
We reached the side street leading back to Hotel CC. The convenience store where we passed earlier was our last stop for the day. It was time to buy water and snacks and the famous waffles. We noticed we were always charged extra for bottled water. We asked the cashier and only found out that had we returned our used empty bottles, we would not be charged the extra amount for the bottle. So Europe is so environmentally friendly but it comes with a cost.
Finally, we were back to Hotel CC. Up at our attic room, we made ourselves comfortable. It was packing time as we did some substantial shopping earlier in the day. Our flight the next day was in the evening so we still would have another day to explore this wonderful city.
Hotel CC is really strategically located very near to the main train station. Hotels in this part of the city are really costly. We were glad to stay here but we had to deal with the slight slope in our room up in the attic. Notwithstanding, we had a great day exploring Amsterdam on foot. So we were finally in Amsterdam. This also meant our Europe Tour was coming to an end. With that we went to bed anticipating another wonderful day in this very beautiful city.
Continue to Day 10 …