Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Amsterdam Day 1

Today, my mother asked for my blog address and I commented that I hadn't done anything with it in over a YEAR! She then reminded me that I was supposed to post about my recent trip in April. OH NO! I totally forgot to share our wonderful adventure to Amsterdam!

It has been 2 years since Jay and I were able to take a trip alone without the kids. He was set on wanting to visit Amsterdam, so, I waved my magic wand and made things happen. And plan happy that I am, with in 48 hours, the entire thing was set. We just had to wait 60 days for it to happen! HAHAHA!

A friend of ours had just returned from Amsterdam and warned us of inclimate weather. So we weren't sure what to expect. I watched the weather like a hawk for 2 weeks before praying that the rains would stay away. I don't think I have ever been as lucky weather wise as we were those 5 days. The weather was so nice that people were ditching work, filling trains and heading to the beach! Air conditioning is not a standard feature in hotels or public places, as it never really gets over 70*f, even in the summer. We got lucky and it reached 88*f!

After giving a thousand kisses goodbye to the kids, Jay and I headed off to the airport at 3am. Not the best way to start off a trip, being in the negative of sleep. But we wanted to take advantage of the time we had.

Check out that sun!

Someone was a little sleepy!

There is our first viewing of Greece.

I choose Aegean Air for our flights. At the time of the booking, this flight was the cheapest at just under 500 euro for both of our tickets. (477 euro to be exact) However, it did come with a short 1 hour and 25 minute layover in Athens. No problem. Except that our flight was 55 minutes LATE in departing Tel Aviv! We were both so tired that we snoozed away most of the 2 hour flight. Upon landing they announced they would have people to assist us in getting to our next gate. We ran down the steps onto the tarmac and onto the waiting bus, ran and found passport control (side note, when traveling to the EU, the first country you land in, handles passport control, so Athens is our only stamp for this trip) While waiting in line at passport control, I noted that our plane was now boarding and we needed to get there ASAP. We RAN in the direction they pointed us to, only to be faced with MASSIVE crowds at the security check point. Oh crap. We managed to get put into the "Priority" lane, which I suppose only took about 5-7 minutes, but felt like 30. After passing, we RAN through the airport and finally found our gate. The plane was now scheduled to depart in 5 minutes! The bus finally departed to take us to the plane. Ran on board, and I begged to use the toilet. Sat down in my seat and the plane somehow took off an entire 5 minutes late! Then we hit turbulence. Everyone had to stay buckled, even the flight attendants, so no water for over an hour of the 2 1/2 hour flight.

Finally we landed in Amsterdam! So excited and sooo tired by this point. Our destination was a short train ride away, about 10 minutes, so after grabbing water, we climbed aboard the train to Sloterdijk Station. (It's actually pronounced Slotterdag) Once we arrived I had to search my sleep deprived brain to remember where our hotel was from there.


Bikes everywhere! 
Note that we once again flew with carry-on only- time and money saving option if you can pull it off!

We arrived only to find out that they have a firm check in of not until 3pm. We checked our bags and set out. It was 12:30pm so we had to go occupy ourselves and keep awake until we could check in.

Back onto the train to Centraal Station. Man, I LOVE the transportation in Amsterdam! We got off the train and out of the station and wow! Amsterdam just smacks you in the face! So beautiful!

Centraal Station

As we were deciding what the heck to do with ourselves for about 3 hours, inspiration struck. What is more quintessential than a canal ride!

We didn't even take the time to consider the multiple possibilities that were lined up before us and grabbed the first one we came too.
This is us trying to convince ourselves that we aren't THAT tired.

Now, I do not like boats. At all. So this took a little convincing of my brain that everything was going to be fine and to think if it like a ride at Disneyland. It worked! The cruise took us all around the city and had a prerecorded track telling us what we were looking at. The sun was shinning, the breeze was blowing and we were having a great time.

Parking Garage for bikes

 An hour later we landed and decided we had better eat. Dumbly we chose the first "This place looks ok" restaurant. As much as we enjoyed being right on the street and observing the insane bike riders, the food was not worth the 50 euro we ended up dumping at that place. I had dry chicken breast with fries and Jay had salmon with fries. We shared a bottle of water. Ugh. Lesson learned! That passed another hour of time. Time to head back to the hotel. We took a leisurely walk back to the station, used our return tickets and were on our way. Finally back at the hotel, we did our official check in, got our bags, and got to our room. I have never been as impressed with a hotel room as I was at Hotel2Stay. It is meant to be long term lodgings for the surrounding businesses and schools. It has a minimum stay of 4 nights (us) and maximum of 6 months.  It had a handy kitchen for later, a comfortable bed and a nice clean bathroom. It was also extremely quiet. Like, we wondered if anyone else was on our floor quiet. A side note. When I look for a hotel, I take so many factors into play. the location, the room size, and the most bang for my buck. I figured if I had 2 choices, one was downtown, basic room, no mini fridge, and it cost the exact same as the hotel room 2x as big, with a kitchen, 7 minutes from the city center, you bet I will choose the second option. I use typically to book and view pictures as well as reviews, and to make doubly sure everything is good before booking.

Anyway, long story short, we crashed for a few hours. When we woke up and drank our body weight in water; we headed back downtown. The sun didn't set until almost 9pm, with twilight lasting for a good hour afterwards. The city was even more beautiful at night.

These funny little cars were all over the place. They sounded like lawnmowers and barely sat 2 people, shoulders overlapping. They drove in the bike lanes, so you had to pay extra attention. Later, you will see a newer version of this. The best part? The handicap sticker on the back!

That is the end of day one. We stopped at the small grocery and picked up some snacks and more water and went to bed. We had a fun-filled day planned for the morning!

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