Second Christmas?!?!?

Amsterdam Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 49 › view all entries
Amsterdam Centraal Station
I arrived in Amsterdam around noon on Second Christmas, a holiday for the Dutch as well as much of Europe. The airport was packed! It took me about an hour to make my way from my arrival gate to the Schiphol Airport main concourse (aka Schiphol Plaza) and to find an empty baggage locker to stow my carry-on. I think I was dazed and confused from being sick and from the flight because I had trouble finding the Schiphol Train Station. My eyesight was failing me because low and behold the Schiphol Rail Station was smack dab in the center of the plaza and I was wandering around right in front of the ticketing booth!

With my rail ticket in hand, I took the escalator down to get into the interior of the station and the platform.
Me and Koninklijk Paleis...a much better pic
Unbeknownst to me at the time, I could have saved a half a euro if I had used the automated ticketing kiosks (3.60 euros) which are scattered throughout the plaza and the arrival areas instead of purchasing the ticket from the man-operated ticketing booth (4.10 euros). Oh well, I will keep that in mind for my next visit to the Netherlands. At the train platform, it was freezing cold for this So Cal girl...I could see my exhaled breath waft into the air like cigarette smoke. As the train drew closer to the platform, it swirled the cold air into gusts which chilled me to the core! I quickly jumped aboard through the nearest open train car door so I can get warmed up.

The ride was relaxing and I enjoyed watching the scenery change from flat green fields to suburbs to the city center.
The Dam and the National Monument
But train ride seemed to take longer than expected or perhaps I was too eager jump off the train and to walk about the city! As soon as the train rolled into Amsterdam Centraal, I was up from my seat and ready to go!

I followed the masses of people out of the rail station and onto the street...it was so cold...I could feel my face numbing and my contacts drying out. From the station, I headed down the main thoroughfare, Damrak, and passed by many storefronts selling souvenirs. One storefront had quite a line...they were selling paper cones filled with piping hot frites fresh from the fryer. I wasn't hungry yet so I made my way further down the street to the Dam.

For second Christmas, there seemed to me to be more people out and about than I thought there would be.
Nieuwe Kerk at the Dam
When I got to the Dam, I gazed at the Koninklijk Paleis and its very ornate bell/clock tower. I really wanted to go into the palace but it was closed for renovations. The Nieuwe Kerk was open with the Hidden Afghanistan exhibit but I opted to just photograph its exteriors because I didn't want to pay the admission fee. Directly across from the Koninklijk Paleis is the National Monument built in memoriam to World War 2 victims. Its stone carvings looked very intricate.

From the Dam I walked south along Rokin (which Damrak merges into). Following my map of the city center, I turned right on Spui. As I walked along Spui, it intersected Kalverstraat which is a famed shopping district in Amsterdam. I felt like I was in Frogger dodging the on-coming wave of pedestrians walking up and down Kalverstraat doing some after Christmas shopping.
Begijnhof courtyard and 17th and 18th century homes
 

A block from Kalverstraat, Spui opened up into a lovely and serene square also called the Spui. From the Spui, I spotted the entrance to
the Begijnhof, the only medieval inner courtyard in Amsterdam. Historically a Béguinage, a "compound" used by Beguines (a Roman Catholic lay sisterhood), the Begijnhof Chapel and Church are now part of the English Reformed Church. 

The door was ajar so I walked through it and then down the hallway to the inner court. The Begijnhof was so peaceful. Even though there were other people out and about, there was still an air of respectful silence. The only audible sounds were the faint melodic singing of the choir coming from the Begijnhof Chapel. The chapel was open for viewing but I decided not to go in for fear of disrupting their prayer services.
View of Beurs van Berlage from Beursplein
Knowing me and my clumsiness, I probably would have knocked over some priceless religious artifact or tripped on a wooden pew. Besides, I wasn't appropriately dressed to enter a house of worship. Anyways...much of the courtyard was cordoned off, either for privacy or repair, so I couldn't view some of the gable stones on the Béguinage buildings....oh well I'll just have to make a return visit in the near future. =D

I walked back up towards Centraal Station. Along the way I passed the Beursplein, next to the Beurs van Berlage building, where I had to navigate through a crowd of people in front of not one but two separate waffle kiosks. The scent of fresh made waffles was everywhere but I restrained myself from eating one because it was just too damned cold and I would have to remove my warm gloves to eat with a knife and fork!

It was around 4pm and I was planning on heading back early to the airport so I can view some Dutch artwork at the Rijksmuseum exhibit and grab some dinner before my connecting flight to Scotland.
Poor boat house =(
As I headed the to the train station, I passed the Damrak Jetty where a persuasive young tour operator convinced me to take a canal cruise with Reederij P. Kooij Canal Boat Tours. The selling points were the guided tour in English and a heated, fully enclosed seating area. The 6.50 euro fee for the cruise was well worth it because the boat took me to areas of Amsterdam that I would not have time to see if I was just strolling through the city.

By 5 pm, dusk was settling in over the city and it was getting much colder so I head to the train station and bought my ticket back to the airport from the yellow ticket kiosk to save me half a euro..woo hoo! After grabbing my stowed gear from the locker I wandered around Schiphol Plaza trying to find something I wanted to eat.
The Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge over the Amstel


I then remembered reading a review by tvillingmarit about Brasserie Restaurant so through passport control I went up to Lounge 2 to get to the restaurant. I sat at a table in an empty section outside of the restaurant and I had an unobstructed view of the main airport concourse so I could watch the comings and goings of fellow travelers. I hadn't even been served my beverage yet when a family of 4 were directed to the section by the hostess. And just my luck they decide to sit right next to me when there were about 15 open tables in the area! I ordered way too much food and I didn't want to take the rest to go because it'll just be another package I would have to lug around.

After 2 hours of waiting around at the gate, I boarded the plane bound for my final destination...Scotland! SHOOT...I forgot to check out the Rijksmuseum art exhibit!!!










Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Amsterdam Centraal Station
Amsterdam Centraal Station
Me and Koninklijk Paleis...a much …
Me and Koninklijk Paleis...a much…
The Dam and the National Monument
The Dam and the National Monument
Nieuwe Kerk at the Dam
Nieuwe Kerk at the Dam
Begijnhof courtyard and 17th and 1…
Begijnhof courtyard and 17th and …
View of Beurs van Berlage from Beu…
View of Beurs van Berlage from Be…
Poor boat house =(
Poor boat house =(
The Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge ove…
The Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge ov…
Look...that home in the middle is …
Look...that home in the middle is…
Beurs van Berlage from across Damr…
Beurs van Berlage from across Dam…
Me and Koninklijk Paleis...still w…
Me and Koninklijk Paleis...still …
Koninklijk Paleis...too bad that i…
Koninklijk Paleis...too bad that …
The hustle and bustle of the Dam
The hustle and bustle of the Dam
The National Monument
The National Monument
Koninklijk Paleis from the Nationa…
Koninklijk Paleis from the Nation…
Much better
Much better
Koninklijk Paleis...darn the elect…
Koninklijk Paleis...darn the elec…
The bell tower of the Koninklijk P…
The bell tower of the Koninklijk …
Entrance to Begijnhof in the Spui
Entrance to Begijnhof in the Spui
Ornamental doorway to Begijnhof
Ornamental doorway to Begijnhof
Inner courtyard of the Begijnhof
Inner courtyard of the Begijnhof
Me in the Begijnhof
Me in the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Inside the Begijnhof
Begijnhof courtyard and the surrou…
Begijnhof courtyard and the surro…
Chapel entrance
Chapel entrance
The church towering over the Begij…
The church towering over the Begi…
Me further inside the Begijnhof co…
Me further inside the Begijnhof c…
More of the Begijnhof courtyard an…
More of the Begijnhof courtyard a…
17th and 18th century homes in the…
17th and 18th century homes in th…
Map of the Begijnhof courtyard
Map of the Begijnhof courtyard
Placard about the Begijnhof
Placard about the Begijnhof
Entryway to the Begijnhof from Ged…
Entryway to the Begijnhof from Ge…
Begijnhof courtyard surrounded by …
Begijnhof courtyard surrounded by…
Clocktower of Beurs van Berlage
Clocktower of Beurs van Berlage
Cool building ornament on Beurs va…
Cool building ornament on Beurs v…
Beurs van Berlage from the Damrak …
Beurs van Berlage from the Damrak…
View from the Damrak Jetty
View from the Damrak Jetty
On a canal boat tour with Reederij…
On a canal boat tour with Reederi…
Montelbaanstoren in the Oudeschans…
Montelbaanstoren in the Oudeschan…
Canal cruising in Amsterdam
Canal cruising in Amsterdam
Replica of the Dutch East Indiaman…
Replica of the Dutch East Indiama…
The backside of the Dutch East Ind…
The backside of the Dutch East In…
The Scheepvaart Museum (The Nether…
The Scheepvaart Museum (The Nethe…
Look the building is pictured in t…
Look the building is pictured in …
One of the many canal bridges
One of the many canal bridges
Cruising under the very ornate Bla…
Cruising under the very ornate Bl…
Gabled canal homes
Gabled canal homes
Munttoren (Mint Tower)
Munttoren (Mint Tower)
Munttoren on Muntplein
Munttoren on Muntplein
The worlds narrowest street...sor…
The world's narrowest street...so…
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk
Oude Kerk
St Nicolaas Kerk
St Nicolaas Kerk
St Nicolaas Kerk
St Nicolaas Kerk
More gabled canal homes
More gabled canal homes
Camera tricks on the train
Camera tricks on the train
Overlooking the main concourse of …
Overlooking the main concourse of…
Amsterdam
photo by: pearcetoyou