COLLEEN NEL’S TRAVELS TO AMSTERDAM (2 AUGUST TO 11 AUGUST 2019)
TRAVEL IS AN ADVENTURE!
Three weeks before going to Amsterdam I applied for my visa at the VFS offices in Cape Town which I received after 10 days which was delivered to my work address. The visa cost me R1400-00 and is valid for a year. I would also suggest that you contact your bank, should you be using your credit card whilst on holiday to advise them that you will be using it abroad (otherwise they will think it is fraud and can block it). One of the requirements of your visa is to have Travel Insurance (if you are a Discovery member – you get free travel insurance through them).
Arrived in Amsterdam on 3 August at 10h30 then took a train from Schipol airport to Sentraal Stasie (5 euros). Had to take a tram from there to my hotel (Di Ann Hotel) decided to rather purchase a weekly ticket (37 euros) which meant that I could use the train, bus or tram in and around Amsterdam. I arrived whilst the Gay Pride festival was on and there were hundreds of people dressed up in various outfits enjoying the music and parties on the canals.
The hotel was located near Dam Square which is very central and was close to the tram station. I was close to shops and restaurants and my first breakfast was at an Italian bakery which consisted of a chocolate croissant, coffee and an orange juice (7 euros).
I allowed myself a daily budget of 50 euros and most days was able to stick to this amount which I used for food, drinks, gifts and entertainment. The weather was great most of the time it was approximately 24 degrees Celsius and rained only twice whilst I was there.
The city of Amsterdam isn’t very big and you can walk to most places or take the trams. I would recommend visiting the museums, Groote Kerk, go on the barges on the canals, rent a bicycle, go to Vondelpark where you can picnic or have lunch at a restaurant. One can also go to Vollendam (you can book a tour which includes seeing how they make clogs, try various cheeses at a cheese tasting, and have lunch at a fishing village). What is a visit to Amsterdam without also seeing the Red Light district as well as the well known coffee shops. Most bars have a large selection of beers and although I do not usually drink beer, I decided to try a few whilst there, my favourite was a light ale – Juliper.
The other 2 hotels that I can recommend that I stayed at was the Holiday Inn Express – City Hall – centrally located and the last 2 days at the Renaissance Hotel – Schipol Airport (which has a free shuttle to the airport approximately ten minutes drive away).
Should you need to get a taxi – I would recommend rather using Uber which is half the price of a taxi and you won’t be ripped off.
If I had to describe Amsterdam in one word it would be “Freedom”. Not at any time did I feel unsafe walking in the streets even late at night and the Dutch people are extremely helpful and friendly.