80 Days In Europe: 6 Hours in Amsterdam, Netherlands


A 6-hour Layover in Amsterdam
April 24, 2016

This past spring, I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam again while en route to Lisbon from Prague. For some reason, flights on April 24th were really expensive with most tickets running from $350+ one-way. So, I opted to put my Delta miles to use for a $450 business class flight on KLM. The flight cost me 25,000 miles which came out to about 1.8 cents per mile (most are worth about 1-1.2 cents or less). The best part was selecting a longer layover, 6-hours to be exact, in Amsterdam since I had been wanting to visit the city during the spring time anyway.

The first time I had visited Amsterdam was December 2012 and on a whim. At the time, I was itching for another vacation post Costa Rica earlier that fall, so I decided to visit my sister in London for New Years and took a little side trip to the Netherlands for a few days. One of my favorite memories in Amsterdam was taking the canal river cruise at sunset and seeing the city light up the night sky. I was fortunate to be there during the annual lights festival in December where different light-art installations light up the night sky throughout the city. It was beautiful. The most stunning light installation was the tulip that hung over the canal waters near the Opera.

While beautiful in the winter, seeing Amsterdam in the Spring offered a warmer and brighter experience, literally. Not only was the temperature higher but the sun stayed out longer compared to the sun setting at 4pm in the winter, more people were on bikes, flowers lined the narrow streets, and there were a ton of smiling faces happy to shed those heavy winter coats.

The train to Central Station from the Schiphol Airport is only 20 mins, making Amsterdam a perfect layover city. Since I had seen most of the city and museums during my first trip, I had no agenda this time other than to walk around, see the spring flowers, and eat poffertjes at The Pancake Bakery. Poffertjes are mini Dutch pancakes traditionally served with butter and topped with powered sugar. What makes these little delicious bites of goodness unique is that they are made with yeast and buckwheat flour creating a light and spongy texture–this also makes them dangerous to the waistline because I could eat platefuls of them.

Close to The Pancake Bakery is Anne Frank’s House and no matter the time of year, you will always see a line wrapped around the corner. I remember walking though the house being both saddened and humbled as I read the entries from her diary. Making my way along the canals, I passed by Het Grachtenhuis, my favorite museum in Amsterdam. While small, the museum is perfect for anyone who has a desire to learn and understand the history of how and why Amsterdam was built the way it was and as the ‘first green city’. From the museum, I made my way to the Bloemenmarkt, the flower market, and then to the Rembrandt House Museum. As my quick layover trip neared its end, I headed back to the central station via Oudezijds Voorburgwal towards De Oude Kerk church strolling a different side of town that I had not yet seen.

A few more landmarks and places to see:

  • Pieter Cornelisz Hooftstraat, the 5th Avenue of Amsterdam
  • I Am Amsterdam sign, near the Rijksmuseum
  • Rijksmuseum
  • Van Gogh Museum, housing the largest Van Gogh Collection
  • Hermitage Amsterdam
  • Grachtengordel-West, my favorite area to stroll around
  • Cafe American, restored art-deco styled cafe in the American Hotel
  • The Royal Palace
  • The Opera House
  • Coffee houses, be prepared to receive a little more than coffee

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