Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei


Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park


A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City

Amsterdam (Aug '10) - Overview

Went to Amsterdam (阿姆斯特丹) with my colleague over the weekend from 21 Aug (Sat) to 23 Aug (Mon). On the second day we joined a day tour to Zaanse Schans, Marken and the Hague (海牙). Amsterdam is the capital city and most populous city in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (尼德兰王国), and it is known as the Venice of the North due to its numerous canals.

Confused with the country name 'Holland' over 'Netherlands'? In fact, the Netherlands consists of twelve provinces, and North Holland and South Holland are among the two provinces. Due to the maritime and economic power of these two provinces in the 17th century, the Netherlands is known internationally as 'Holland'.

Leisure trip at a glance

Country: Kingdom of the Netherlands
Period: 21 Aug to 23 Aug 2010
Flight timings:
21 Aug: EZY 1353, GVA–AMS, ETD 0945 ETA 1115
23 Aug: EZY 1356, AMS–GVA, ETD 1735 ETA 1905

Flight tickets: Return tickets at CHF 212.75 per person (inclusive of airport taxes)
Hostel Amsterdam Stadsdoelen (21 to 23 Aug)
Currency exchange rate: EUR 1.00 = SGD 1.72 (Aug '10 period)

There is no time difference between Switzerland and Netherlands; both countries are in Central Europe time zone. Total damage was about SGD 450 including flight tickets, airport taxes, transport, food and hotel, excluding personal expenses.

Here's the overview of the trip itinerary:

Day 1 – Morning flight EZY 1353 from Genèva International Airport (Switzerland) to Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam). Took train to Amsterdam Centraal. Walked pass National Monument, Royal Palace, Tulip Museum and Anne Frank House. Had dinner at Zeedijk. Walked back towards the hostel at night to have a good rest.

Day 2 – Joined a full day tour to Zaanse Schans Windmills, Marken, Delft, the Hague and Madurodam. Had dinner at an Indonesian Restaurant.

Day 3 – Visited Van Gogh Museum. Walked pass Concertgebouw and Rijksmuseum. Had lunch at Zeedijk. Took train from Amsterdam Centraal to Airport. Boarded flight EZY 1356 to Genèva International Airport.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the main international airport of Netherlands, and located 9.1-km southwest of Amsterdam. Currently it is the 5th busiest airport in Europe. The IATA code for this airport is AMS.

The airport is built as a single large terminal (left photo below) but split into three large departure halls. Schiphol has large shopping area, known as Schiphol Plaza, for source of revenue and as an additional attraction for passengers (right photo below). Because this plaza is located before airport customs, hence frequently visited by many air travelers and non-traveling visitors.


Getting in/out from the Airport

The easiest way to get in/out of the airport is by train for first time visitors. Conveniently the train station is located at the basement of the terminal complex. We took the train to and from the Amsterdam Centraal station.

The cost of each single trip was EUR 4.20, inclusive of EUR 0.50 administrative charge, for a second class cabin. The journey took only 20-minutes. Following are the train tickets we took during our arrival (left photo below) and departure (right photo below). Great that our colleague gave us some unused train tickets so that we can use them on our return trip.

Amsterdam Centraal Station

Amsterdam Centraal Station (left photo below) is the largest railway station of Amsterdam, and a major national railway hub. Do note the extra 'a' in 'Centraal' as spelled in Dutch. This transport hub comprises of an impressive station building, underground passages and metro station connecting to metro, tram, buses and even ferry services. Behind the building is a cast iron platform roof spanning approximately 40-metres (right photo below).

Nederlandse Spoorwegen

The principal rail operator in the Netherlands is provided by Nederlandse Spoorwegen. The train we took to and from the airport was a third generation Double Decker VIRM train (photos below).

Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf (GVB)

The Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf is the municipal public transport operator providing metro, tram, bus and ferry services in the city of Amsterdam metropolitan area. The best way to get unlimited travel of all modes of transportation is to get a GVB day pass.

Hostel Amsterdam Stadsdoelen

The Hostel Amsterdam Stadsdoelen (left photo below) is located in the city centre. Booked this hostel via the internet at EUR 58.91 for a Male Dormitory for 2 nights. The Male Dorm consists of more than 10 beds (right photo below). The price paid also includes daily breakfast and bed linen, except for towels. So guests would have to either rent from the hostel or bring their own towels.

The dinning room was relatively spacious (left photo below) on its second floor, and offered a good view of the canal and opposite buildings (right photo below).

There were limited selections of bread, cereals and beverages in this hostel. Thus choice of my breakfast (photos below) was rather similar on the two days.

Interesting Observations

  • Remember the "Open" male toilet spotted in Brussels? This urinal was even more "open" (left photo below).

  • There was even a karaoke taxi available for rent at Amsterdam (right photo below).

  • If you think that China is the "Bicycle Country", then you may need to think twice when you're in Amsterdam (photos below).

  • Just like China, designated roads in Amsterdam are allocated for bicycles only (left photo below).

  • Besides roads, canals are often congested with boats and cruises (right photo below).

  • Amsterdam houses may seem narrow, about 5 to 7-meters, but they are quite deep in length. Also it seems many of the Dutch houses are leaning forward (photos below) and may topple over anytime. The reason is the oldest houses in Amsterdam still have the old timber framed houses within the brick walls, and the need to lean out to because the houses have been built with the upper floors sticking out.

  • Speaking of houses, there are many floating houses along the canals (photos below). Besides freeing up the lands for housing, these houses are safe against flooding. Only approximately 2,400 families are privilege to live on the inner waters of Amsterdam due to the limited number of moorings.

  • About 1,500 bridges are built over more than one hundred kilometers of canals in the city center of Amsterdam. Among the various types of bridges, there are the concrete bridge (left photo below) and the Walter Süskindbrug (right photo below).

  • The Walter Süskindbrug is a traditional double-lead, Dutch draw-bridge connecting the banks. Approximately every twenty-minutes, the bridge opens to let boats through. Here's my video capturing the closing of the bridge to allow cyclists and pedestrians through.

  • Amsterdam is most well known by tourists for its sex shops. The stores in the red-light district are full of hardcore videos, magazines, sex toys, and even provide 'live' porno shows (photos below).

  • Do not confused with the word 'coffeeshop' used locally in Singapore, these are Cannabis (drug) coffeeshops where the sale of cannabis can be consumed. Innovative signs are displayed outside these coffeeshops to attract patrons (photos below).

  • The exterior of these coffeeshops sometimes can be sex store look-alike (left photo below) or just like any coffee houses (right photo below). Perhaps the easiest way is to use your nose to differentiate when outside of these coffeeshops; the smell of cannabis is so distinct and strong that one breath you wouldn't forget.

  • Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana, is consumed to heighten one's mood but with multiple side effects. Amazingly seeds of these cannabis can be bought conveniently from the seeds store (photos below).

  • Drug descriptions can be found displayed prominently on the store windows (photos below). Not too sure if the drug 'ice' comes from the specific type of cannabis plant species.

Travel Tips:

If you're staying in Amsterdam for more than 2 days and a museum-lover, then it is worth the money to get an iAmsterdam City Card (left photo).

This iAmsterdam City Card provides, during 24, 48 or 72h, free entry to over 30 museums, free use of public transports and exclusive offers in designers boutiques, shops, exhibitions, restaurants & attractions.

For a 24-hour Brussels Card, it costs EUR 49, while a 48-hour cost EUR 59. Do check out the website to find out more to take the advantage of the discount.

Useful Links:

Iamsterdam Visting:

Amsterdam Travel Guide:

Amsterdam Tourist Information:

Wikitravel - Amsterdam:

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