Saturday, January 16, 2010

Amsterdam Two: Day One

(Near our hotel in Amsterdam)

This week has been so wild that I am only now getting back to writing about our trip to Amsterdam.

Excuse me if I go into a little micro-detail here, but I've decided to do these posts partly for my family. Rather than writing a long email rundown about our trip, I thought it might be fun to write here and include photos.

First, below you can see our hotel. I would highly recommend the Hotel Mercure Arthur Frommer provided you can get a deal where you pay about 25% of the normal room price, as we did:

(Our hotel, clearly NOT on a very busy street!)

The price my travel agent found for us for three nights (two rooms a night) with breakfast included seemed highly reasonable, but I didn't know just what a great deal we were getting.

Imagine my surprise when we arrived and I saw that the posted price for one double room for one night was practically 300 euros, and breakfast 16 euros per person!

My knees were going a little weak until I remembered that we had prepaid our hotel, and I had papers to show for it. Each room had cost us about 80 euros a night, breakfast included. I had never bought a prepaid hotel package and may well look into this possibility again. It sure allowed us to have nice accomodations for a reasonable price.

This hotel has the advantage of being on a very quiet, residential street, yet only about a ten-minute walk in any direction from many of Amsterdam's major attractions. It is located on Noorderstraat, just south of the Prinsengracht canal.

Although it had been a tad bit challenging to leave Aveyron at 3:00 am to catch our early flight out of Toulouse, we were in Amsterdam by noon and that meant having a full first day.

As I like to do when I first get to a city, we spent our first day just walking around and getting our bearings. We were surrounded by beautiful views:

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau, who deeply regretted not taking his mega-Pentax with him...)

I had been to Amsterdam just once before, in 1994, and didn't remember much; nor had I done much research before this trip. So I didn't really know what to expect in the restaurant department. Overall, we were pleased by the quality and reasonable prices of food and drink in the city.

I didn't do any food blogging as such, so no photos of our meals...but I will tell you where we had them. Our first evening's dinner was in the Castillo Tapas Bar and Steakhouse on the Reguliersdwarsstraat, which has plenty of reasonably-priced restaurants.

We all enjoyed being able to eat early, and on our first evening, we got back to the hotel just a little past 7pm! We all wanted to make up for the previous short night and to be able to hit the town running on the next day, Sunday, December 27th, which we figured would be pretty calm....


Vivianne Leclaire said...

This is a great post. Terrific tip on the hotel. I have had good luck at the Mercure hotel chains also.
It is also helpful to know that Amsterdam would be fine to visit over December break.

Was it crowded? We went to Rome this year. It was lovely (of course, it was Rome!), but it was PACKED with people.

I am printing out your blog for my Amsterdam travel folder in the hope of making my first trip there some time soon.

The Pliers said...

Beautiful photos, Betty!

I'm delighted to be able to eaves-drop on your "Notes from Amsterdam" to the family.

Claudine said...

those images are great, I can't wait to here more and more about your trip. Great deal on the hotel too! keep on blogging over half way through!

tut-tut said...

I love that photo of the cars hard by the canal. Betty, sounds like a great time, and money saved, too.

Emm said...

Nice pictures. I've been to Amsterdam only once, years ago--looking forward to your next installment. Thanks.

Alain said...

I had that strange idea to have our honeymoon trip to Amsterdam at the end of December. That was in the sixties.. I had found out that with the TEE(Trans Europ Express) in first class that would be a short and classy experience. It sort of was.
But the hotel I had found downtown A. was sort of homy, clean, and boring as hell. Bannen I think was its name and it was in no way what a Mercure would be nowadays.
My wife, 43 years later, has not yet forgiven me for that mistake.
But during those icy, very gray 4 days, we comforted each other with lots of the Dutch favorite booze based on juniper berries, and surprisingly enough, great steaks... We wanted to see a Rembrandt retrospective, but unfortunately, when we showed up at the door of that famous museum, most of the paintings had left, being on loan to a London exhibit. We wanted to compensate with a dance ballet show... that same nighet, but the poor Nureiev was sort of approaching the end of the line and had a lots of difficulties to even try and jump...anywhere
We ended up having a terrible culinary experience with the famous Indonesian Rijstaffel ...
Boy...were we glad to be back home in Paris the following week and enjoy a good boeuf bourguignon chez Allard in our neighborhood of the 6th arrondissement.

French Virtual Cafe

Jann said...

Looked like you had a very exciting trip. I have been there, but need to spend more time tramping around on the local paths. My father in from the Netherlands. Naturally, I have this urge to visit the places he lived in as a child. thanks for the info.......will write this down.