Monday, September 27
Check out of Top Hotel Goldenes Fass
Travel via train to AmsterdamCheck into City Hotel AmsterdamNotes from the day: Well, we found a great hotel to put on our HORRIBLE HOTELS list!! I didn’t want to stay, but I’d paid for the room up front. I should have looked at it first, but I’m not sure where else we would have stayed. The nicer hotels were 4 TIMES as expensive. It was a good excuse to explore the city. I wasn’t impressed with Amsterdam. Maybe the fact that the public transit and garbage collectors were on strike added to that?
Tuesday, September 28
Notes from the day: Amsterdam leaves a lot to be desired. The map is impossible to read; the canals are sometimes pretty, but mostly gross.
Vondelpark was amazing. (It is large park in the middle of Amsterdam. You actually forget that you’re in Amsterdam.)
Wednesday, September 29
Check out of City Hotel Amsterdam
As you can see from the notes on the Itinerary, I wasn’t impressed with Amsterdam. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say we really didn’t like it. I know! I was shocked, too! So many people rave about the place, but I wasn’t impressed at all. It didn’t help that we’d left our hotel accommodations in a palace in Vienna just a few short days ago for barely adequate lodging in Amsterdam. If you look at the hotel website, things look reasonable. In person (at least when we were there three years ago), they were wretched. Maybe the hotel has improved? Maybe not. It really doesn’t matter.
I’m not an extremely picky person, but I nearly cried when I saw our room. It was horribly disgusting. I think the state of our room seeped out into the city, and the fact that both the garbage collectors and public transit were on strike just added to the already dismal situation. Or, maybe it was the outside seeping in? Who knows.
I remember feeling very trapped with no other options for lodging. I’d reserved the hotel online, and unless you cancel 48-hours in advance, you get charged for one night anyway. The hotel was was not cheap, and other hotels in the area were even more expensive. We decided to suck it up and use this as an excuse to explore the city.
This brings us to a point that I don’t think I’ve explained yet. In every city on our trip, we’d chosen lodging that was within walking distance to the main train station. Granted, “walking distance” for my hubby and I is probably a bit farther than some would like to go on foot, but we were up to the challenge. We knew that we were there to see the cities and the sights, and we weren’t there to lounge around in the room. If the rooms were comfortable and clean (and gorgeous), that was just an added bonus. We also opted for rooms with private facilities. By staying relatively close to the train station, we could get in and out of the city quickly and relatively easily and without relying on public transportation. That was our goal.
Up to our stay in Amsterdam, we’d been extremely lucky with our lodging, and we’d forgotten what it could be like. We’d been extremely lucky with public transportation and the little things like garbage pick-up. Reality smacked us in the face in Amsterdam, and it was a rude awakening.
When we arrived in Amsterdam, we’d stopped at the Tourist Information Booth and purchased a map of the city. This was the only city on our tour where the maps weren’t free, but once we saw the detail involved, we understood! The canals and streets that change names every block were so confusing. We joked that the 2-Euro map was really worth about $500.
As much as I couldn’t stand the city, I refused to let it overshadow our whole trip. We’d had such a fabulous time up to that point that I refused to let a little thing like Amsterdam ruin our wonderful vacation. We got back to our hotel as late as we could, and we huddled together under the sheets, hoping that whatever was crawling on the floor didn’t join us in the middle of the night. We vowed to set out the next day and find good things we liked about the city. Our goal was to forget we were in Amsterdam.
Vondelpark to the rescue! This was a huge park, and it was amazing. It’s the largest city park in Amsterdam, actually. After wandering through the park, and seeing the vast green lawns, wildlife and over-sized chess game in action, we were able to think straight again, and we got back on track. We did some exploring of the city. The canals were interesting, but pretty stinky. We couldn’t decide if the canals were always gross or if it was the piles of garbage that hadn’t been picked up in days. Also, I don’t think we’ve ever seen so many bicycles in one place. Very cool!
Here are some pictures of Vondelpark, the canals and the public urinals. Yes, it’s a public urinal. Men have it so easy in Amsterdam! (Oh, and I’m not a sanitation engineer, but I’ll give you three guesses as to where the drain from that urinal goes…and your first two guesses don’t count.)
We also wandered over into a certain popular district. We were curious, and to be honest, it was pretty interesting but not that shocking. Later that night, though, we got totally turned around while trying to get back to our hotel, and we ended up in a different part of that district. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to get out of a place in my life! I felt like I was trapped in a Law & Order episode…you know that part right before someone screams and they start the theme music? I’ll let your imagination take you there…and, you probably wouldn’t be far off.
So, I hate to give Amsterdam such a bad rap, but our experience was what it was. I’m not a pessimist and I hate to sound so negative, but I refuse to sugarcoat something that really wasn’t very sweet. If the garbage collectors aren’t on strike, and if your hotel room has no unauthorized guests, maybe it would be a totally different situation. I don’t regret going there, because I appreciate seeing all different types of places. In a way, it made the rest of our trip seem just that much better. My hubby and I could see going back with a group of friends, maybe as a day-trip from another locale, but anything beyond that would be a stretch.
So, because I believe in ending things on a positive note, here is a picture from the train as we were arriving in Amsterdam, before we knew what kind of adventure we’d have.
Next stop, Brussels, Belgium!