Monday, May 10, 2010

Amsterdamming It Up

The adventure started, as so many adventures do, in Schiphol Airport. Schiphol's arrivals lounge seems to have great shops, but I'm always in too much of a rush to get to Amsterdam, so I've never checked them out. We took a double-decker train into Amsterdam - I'd seen them before, on my last trip to Amsterdam when I was backpacking, but I'd forgotten about them and was absurdly excited to see one again. I find train travel terribly romantic and cool, but train travel in Ireland is kind of . . . meh. There's something about double-decker trains that suggest traversing whole continents, travelling for so long that the train becomes a home-away-from-home, getting up in the morning, eating breakfast and reading your book while countries fly past your window.
Unfortunately, it only takes fifteen minutes to get from Schiphol to Amsterdam Centraal Station. I guess you can't have everything :)

Most of what we did was shop, walk, take photos, stop in cafes and have giggling fits, but there were a few notable stops along the way which will be in the next post.

How and ever, we were there for Queen's Day. This is the second time I have accidentally gone on holidays at a time that clashed with a national festival (Prague, November 17th. . .). Our national fesitval, St. Patrick's Day, equals a Total Closure Of Everything. People get drunk, there's a big parade, and you will be able to get a pint of milk but not much else. I don't know about cultural activities, because if you're Irish on St. Patrick's Day, you do one of two things - put on your best wipe-clean-of-puke shoes and buy a crate of beer, or hide under the duvet. I'm a duvet person at the best of times, and I prefer to drink in situations that are not outdoors in Ireland in March.

I am suspicious of national holidays. But we'd booked everything so we went anyway.

But it's OK, because it turns out that Queen's Day is great! There is a street party and people definitely drink, but the atmosphere is just so friendly and welcoming. Also, if you find yourself in Amsterdam on Queen's Day and don't like revelry, the Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum are open so there's still interesting stuff to do. And there's lots of stalls set up on the streets so even just strolling around is diverting and fun. And even though I had a big pile of contingency plans for Stuff To Do If Queen's Day Turns Out To Be Like St. Patrick's Day, Queen's Day turned out to be one of the best days I've ever had in Amsterdam, which is up against some pretty stuff competition.

Another blog post will follow shortly, dealing with some things to do on the other 364 days of the year in Amsterdam!

11 comments:

  1. Glad the holiday turned out well, and the shoes were safe!

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  2. I adore Amsterdam! Did you travel in a group or with a significant other?

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  3. Looks and sounds like you had thee most wonderful time! I'm slightly jealous... okay a lot jealous!

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  4. It was a lot of fun - such a great city :)

    Rosie, I went with one friend.

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  5. I've not been to Holland, it sounds fantastic.
    I get so jealous of how easy it is to get around in Europe.

    Al

    Publish or Perish

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  6. Al, I agree so much - I don't have the best of it because we're cut off from the mainland, but I lived in continental Europe I'd spend every weekend somewhere new!

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  7. Glad you enjoyed it, sounds very civilised compared to Paddys Day, I have never been but have to now, my kids would want to spend the holiday on the double-decker train.

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  8. Brigid, even I was miffed I only got a few minutes on it :) It's so quiet too, I kept thinking my ears were still popped from the plane. It was cool, but slightly eerie at the same time!

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  9. You are so lucky! Amsterdam looks so beautiful and it sounds like you had a good time :) A double-decker train, huh? I've only ever been on a double-decker bus but that sounds sort of... interesting!

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  10. It has been years since I was in Amsterdam. I really loved it. I don't remember the double decker train, but then we drove. So I guess that was a stupid statement!

    Delighted to hear you had such a good time. Queen's Day sounds like me sort of holiday. Have a wonderful Tuesday.

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