Welcome to Amsterdam! We took the train from the airport to Amsterdam Centraal station – and promptly found our hotel for our 24 layover – the Inntel Hotel Amsterdam Center.Vinnie’s – a few doors down from the Inntel, fantastic coffee and cozy atmosphere. The little homemade granola cookies on top didn’t hurt either.This was my first pour over in two weeks. All through my Kenya safari – instant. I gave up after a few days and switched to tea instead. I loved absolutely everything about this cafe. A proper coffee – taking the time to make it perfectly. Always worth the wait.Always an event, anytime of the year.My favorite bike.Lomography Gallery Store. This place was everything.If I had a beard I would go here.If you imagined Pete’s, only in Amsterdam.Let’s talk about these pancakes – this one was bacon and cheese with a thick (not maple) syrup to drizzle on top. From the Corner House bar down the road from our hotel.I’ll take all of the cheese, please.Daam Square – live cello and the setting sun.It was a few days before Halloween, after all.Sun goes down, heading into the red light district.Full breakfast buffet at the Inntel – complete fixings to make a cheese plater, and unlimited champagne for
drinking mimosas. If you go for boiled eggs, other varieties of starches (including pancakes and cereals) everything you could ever want is here.It is perfect fuel for a foggy Amsterdam stroll to see the sunrise.Everything about this – the Marc Chagall gallery, that tailor shop. The houseboat with the twinkle lights and garden. Let me live here, please.Banks Mansion, a five star luxury property that was a contender for this layover.All of the cookies.Miss GPStumbled upon a classic at the Rijksmuseum – early and cold enough, Jonelle and I were the only people there.
Layovers. Generally a term mentioned with some distain, referring to hours spent in a generic airport bar in order to spend a lot less on a multi-connection international flight. This is of course, unless it’s Charles de Gualle, because then it’s Illy espresso & Lauduree macarons over said hours.
Regardless you have two really great options: purchase an airport lounge pass or stay the night and see a great international hub for 24 hours.
The first I accomplished during a 3 hour connection in Toronto. I was flying from Halifax to connect to Paris (CDG), continuing on a quick 2 hour connection there (which is a perfect amount of time to bus between terminals, get your passport stamped and find your gate) and then board my final 8 hour flight to Kenya with Kenya Airways.
When travelling with any of the Flying Blue airlines Toronto has the Crown Lounge to pass the connection. Decent buffet food options – salad bar, soups, pastries, hot samosas, etc. as well as unlimited access to a self serve bar of beer, wine, champagne & spirits. This is accomplished for $35.00. You also have floor to ceiling windows, very comfortable plush armchairs, magazines, wifi, and a boarding call when it’s time to head to your gate. The lounge is a bit dated – if you want a new a shiny lounge you can upgrade to the Plaza Premium lounge across the hall and pay a set rate by the hour.
When I had a choice between leaving Kenya in the middle of the night, with a 6 hour connection in Amsterdam or leaving Kenya early morning, arriving in Amsterdam mid-afternoon, and spending almost 24 hours exploring the city – I chose the latter.
There are many cities this works very well in, and Amsterdam is a perfect example. If your layover is 24 hours or less, in most gateways your bags remained checked and you clear customs with simply your carry on (ask your travel agent). Amsterdam airport is connected to the train network and it takes roughly 30 minutes to get to the heart of the city – Centraal station. Cost is aprox. 4.10 EUR – paid by popping your credit card into any of the yellow ticket machines at the airport.
From here you want to choose a hotel that is very central to the key interest points of the city. I chose the 4* Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Centre, a seven minute walk from the station. For a Deluxe Twin Room at October’s end you can expect to pay at least $210.00, lowest non-refundable mid-week rate.
Unlike Venice (walk or boat only) this canal filled city has bikes (fact: they outnumber the people) and roads to get around.
Just like Venice it is a maze of streets (plenty un marked) and difficult to follow on a map, but heaps of fun to get lost in. On my first afternoon & evening the weather was mild enough for jeans and a sweater. I had no specific plans (besides a good cuppa and eat tasty food) but with 24 hours it’s best to have no plan at all – wander in and out of cafés, little shops, tour as many streets and plazas as you can, then finish late at night in the iconic red light district. If your feeling the extreme time changes, you’ll probably wake up early enough to catch the sunrise (as cold and foggy as it was October 30th) and maximize your time.
If your anything like me, who finds it difficult to fly through a city that you’ve never been to, en route to destination (Paris that’s still you X4) – then a 24 hour layover is for us. Also wonderful is having a new place to look forward to – as opposed to dreading a 9 hour flight when you just stepped off a flight that was 8.
Coming up in April, my (extended) layover will be in London as I make my way to Morocco for another Intrepid Travel adventure.