My Travelogue: Amsterdam & Den Haag (Holland - Netherlands)


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During my school days, I was a fan of Ruud Gullit because of his style and the image he had carried one back in time. Though I was not a strong supporter of the orange army, I was had an ambition to visit Holland once; though I strongly believed that it will never happen! To be honest, Holland was a different country for me during those days. Finally, one of my dreams (yes, I have more) come true! I was in Den Haag and Amsterdam on 24th and 25th of Aug 2010. I will describe my experience in the subsequent sections. Here is my declaimer: Please don't expect a perfect travelogue as I am very bad in it. This is how I planned and executed my trip for 3 of us (myself, wife and son).

Where to visit / What to see?

Just like any other traveler to Netherlands, I also was looking for the right attractions to see. Neither I want to rush nor want see everything in a short time span. I don't want to plan too much and carry an excel sheet with me describing the activities for each day, that will be horrible and can not be called as relaxed vacation! Primarily, we decided to allocate one day each for Den Haag and Amsterdam based on the google research on the attraction to visit.


What about food/accommodation/transport and other details?


After loosing my bachelorhood, this is of the highest priority for me. I always takes accommodation in some established group hotels, unless referred by someone based on their experience. This is just a matter of personal choice as I feel more secured this way. Best Western and IBIS are my preferred choices as they are well established, affordable with good service. However, there are plenty of other options too. This time also, I was about to go for IBIS hotel as they also offer airport pickup and drop, which is really good when you are in a new city. Then came the twist! My friend Maxminai suggested a new hotel CitizenM, just out side the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol which he had used for his trip couple of months ago. Based on his inputs and because of the factors mentioned below, we decided to go for CitizenM Airport Hotel. The hotel offers a very good restaurant at your service. Further more, Schiphol Plaza shopping center is just near by.

23-Aug-2010

We took the Norwegian Air shuttle from Copenhagen to Amsterdam in the evening around 7.30 PM. It was a Boeing 737-300 and the flight duration was 1 Hr 30 minutes including take off and landing.Here is the picture of the aircraft taken at Amsterdam airport:

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After reaching Amsterdam it was the dinner time! We decided to explored the Schiphol Plaza which is basically a shopping mall attached to the airport building. We found plenty of options for food, which unlike some of the typical European restaurants, will fit to the taste of an Indian like me [:)] Following are my recommendations on the Food and drinks at Schiphol Plaza based on my experience:

  1. Burger King: You know it!
  2. Food Village: The excellent one with 5 stars! This is sort of super market with food products, hot snacks and ready to eat food. Seems like there is some Indian guy supplying food to them. There was roti,, egg curry, chicken curry, veg rice, rice which looked like biriyani, veg curries, noodles and much more in their cold section. You can buy it and microwave it there itself. There is a microwave kept exclusively for this purpose.
  3. Juggle Juice Bar: Fresh juice, though you will feel it as little bit on pricey side.I would suggest to go for smoothies from Innocent brand. You will get this in any soft drink shop / vending machines / super markets.
  4. One Chinese take away with couple of tables! Sorry I don't remember the name. But it is like you can pick your choices from a lot of options and the food was amazing.
  5. Per Tutti!: A total disaster and waste of good money. Never try this.
Check out the Schiphol maps here.

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When we were inside the Schiphol Plaza, we saw the CitizenM sign on one of the exits (Gate B).



In facts, this is the exit for most of the hotel pick up services. As we walked outside we could see the CitizenM building in the walkable distance of say 2 minutes with luggage. The pedestrian track has a covering till the door steps of CitizenM, they don't want you to get wet, a nice offering from the hotel. As soon as you enter the hotel, 5 to 6 check In/ Check out machines and an assistant will welcome you. You either need to remember your booking reference number or can use you last name to log into the system. The Check In wizard will guide you through the procedure smoothly. It will allow you to pick your preference of the - either airport view or the highway view - and will ask you to make the smart keys (you can make more than one) for your room. Following is the short description of the room and why I selected this hotel:

  • 14 square meter rooms
  • In every room wall-to-wall window bringing in natural daylight
  • LCD television offering free blockbuster movie channels
  • An extra large king-size bed, 2 m long and 2 m wide!
  • Free WIFI internet
  • Free internet browsing at the lobby - there were 6 Apple Macs!
  • Powerful rain shower and luxury bath linen
  • Global plug system
  • Full length mirror
  • Theater lighting and equipped with Philips touch screen Moodpad which controls the television, window blinds, curtain, room temperature, coloured lighting, and wake up alarm themes.
The best part is that when you initially book the room at CitizenM, it will ask you for a default theme and will set it in the room you will select during check in. Check the professional photos of CitizenM at their site or this Flicker page. Following are some from my side to show the moodpad in action:

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My son enjoyed the touch pad control and all these are the contribution from his side.

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24-Aug-2010: Den Haag, Madurodam

Our one and only target for the day was to visit Den Haag (The Hague - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) and specifically Madurodam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia! Here is the official link Home | Madurodam. So after breakfast at Plaza, we took the train to Den Haag. Here comes some of the snaps:

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I have only one word to say, if you are visiting this place spend one whole day there and spend enough time at each building / creation. They are not just there, they are speaking to you ! eg: The football ground shown above makes all those noises from a typical football ground. Airport is exact replica of the airport with moving planes and baggage movers, baggage belts!

PS: I have some videos for you, which I will upload soon!
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24-Aug-2010: SChiphol Airport to Den Haag, Madurodam

Okay now I have to tell you one important point here - The reason why we opted to stay in the Airport area rather going to the Amsterdam city. The best way to put this is:

Den Haag <--> Schiphole Airport <--> Amsterdam City
Since the Airport is located in the middle, you save on the transportation cost to different locations. Apart from that you have to come back to Airport for your return trip irrespective of the place you are visiting. Since you may have to check out by 11 AM on the last day (or extend the check out to 3PM at an additional cost of minimum of 10 euros), you can easily avail the baggage drop felicity in the hotel. This was, you don't have to carry around your stuffs during the last day!

Okay, here comes the best part! Can you guess the location Schiphol railway station ? Well it is just beneath the same airport building [:)] You can buy the ticket from any of the ticket vending machines placed almost every where in the building! Or the Indian way, go and assemble in the queue in-front of the Dutch railway ticket counter. Here is the official link to Dutch Railways

Those who are using the ticket vending machine for the first time, just try out the ticket vending machine simulator, Please note all international debit / credit cards accepted plus euro coins as well. Please remember, you have to take ticket to Den Haag Central.

When I am at Den Haag Central, how to reach Madurodam?

This was the question when started from Schiphol airport, because I couldn't find out the tram provider from Den Haag Central to Madurodam. When we reached there, we took the left exit closer to the service center and voila! There is the Tram station infront of us. We need to take the Tram Line No:9 reach Madurodam. Now where to purchase the tickets? Well, there will be a van parked just close to the exit which is an official office for the Tram operator HTM. You will get the ticket for couple of euros. And that's it! Enjoy your trip to Madurodam in a nice Tram. Its just a matter of couple of stops and you will be there in 15 min max. When you get down at Madurodam, look just straight opposite to your platform, That is your destination [:)]

PS: When you buy a ticket, always opt the Day Return option which makes its cheaper deal.

Its time for some videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iruRuDLuco

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrGD3JzseBE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4bmwBcyreQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ4FTQ06LNs
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25-Aug-2010: Amsterdam City

Amsterdam !! Just like any one else, we too were in full spirit. After breakfast at Schiphol Plaza, we took the train to Amsterdam City. Here in one pic of sunflower maintained in the front of Plaza entrance:

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The building you are seeing in the left corner of the above photo is CitzenM Airport Hotel.

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When we reached the Amsterdam city railway station, man!!!! It is really crowded. Sorry I don't have photos of that very reason. We came out and decided to take the canal tour first.

Please note: City map for Amsterdam is not freely available any where. They are normally charged at 4 to 5 Euros.

However, you will get a city map, if you go to the tourist office, which is walkable distance from the railway station. Different bus / boat operators have left free brochures and city guide there. Just pick one. Since we were traveling with stroller for my son, we decided to keep our locations limited considering the comfort. You can not hurry when you have a kid and especially when there is a stroller!

We first decided to take the bus trip. Though we were attracted towards the double deck bus shown below:

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We deiced to take the open top one:

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Do you know why we choose this bus?

This bus was one of the CE series from ICBuses. Wanna know what is special about it? Well, it is a Navistar company and there are some on going rumors about Mahindra launching these buses in India under the Mahindra Navistar brand. So I really wanted to check the ride in this and the comfort level.

My verdict: If Mahindra can launch this in an cost effective way, this will redefine the normal bus segment in India. Though the seats where just normal seats, the comfort was really good and from the engine rev and the way driver handled it, I could imagine that the performance is outstanding!

Apart from browsing the city in the bus, they took us to one of the leading diamond factory. We were received with welcome drink (hot / cold as per choice) and taken for the factory tour. The officials explained the entire process of making diamond and the classifications. Following pic shows diamond in various stages, from raw to the finished with excellent cuts (dummy).

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They described how the diamond business started from India. There was an opportunity to buy diamonds from factory directly or from their jewelery showroom. The prices started from 500 Euros to 35K euros! Here I am with a finished diamond (dummy).

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Though there were lot of other options after this bus trip, we decided to take the canal trip. This was a nice experience. Here is our captain:

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And some pictures:

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After the canal trip, we were just explored the city streets [:)] Though there where more locations, we decided to skip for time constraints and other factors. I will post more pictures and videos soon.

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Here comes some more..

When we were roaming around, I spot this one:

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Recognize it? Yes, it is the scooter from SYM Scooters, the very best partner of mahindra2wheeler! Seems like SYM scooters are a hit there. It was easy to spot one or the other model where ever I went. I think, it is just matter of time that Mahindra prove themselves in 2 wheeler segment too!

Enjoy some more pictures:

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Hey Mukesh that bus is not real , those are miniatures!

Good thread Shynish , i liked the changing theme in the rooms. And all the pictures of the miniatures are just amazing!

BTW where is the rest of the report and pictures?
 

Akash

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Excellent pics Shynish. I love that miniature city. Eveything looks so real in there.
 
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