Just a casual rainy day. You sit up, sit back down again. Glazing into the far sunset dreaming of an escape, this was my reality. Nonetheless, as luck would have it, momentarily after the phone rang to be my savor. During this phone call, I discovered that in forty-eight hours I would be attending a weekend in Amsterdam exploring the culture (sponsored by Super Break). Along with a ship visit on Holland America’s latest ship, the MS Koningsdam. Somewhat like a child with candy, I beamed with excitement and pleasure; which then continued for the whole weekend.
Words cannot express the joy in skipping a three-hour drive to Gatwick Airport, to instead fly locally from Birmingham. Although sadly this is a rare circumstance for me, I grew quite fond of the airport. Much to my surprise (with delight), I didn’t even have time to take my sunglasses off before we arrived in Amsterdam with just a 2-hour flight that seemed to vanish in a few seconds (along with my tiredness). First impressions can only describe Amsterdam as almost two parallel worlds, with the side by the airport resembling the Sahara desert (or the African Plains) but the city seems to juxtapose. Amsterdam’s city center is filled with a fast buzz of excitement complimented by the relaxed areas to soak in the culture.
Initially, upon arrival in Amsterdam, I had to use the train in order to get to the city center. What most surprised me about the Amsterdam train service, is that there are no hand railings or bars. Sadly I didn’t have a seat on the train, so this did mean I got flung all over the train quite a bit, but all in good fun isn’t it! As expected the train journey was fairly short and is certainly taxi distance. In fact, on return, we instead decided to book a taxi to the airport which was very cheap. Inside the city center, much like London, everything is within walking distance and fairly close together.
Like a giant, I stood there, glaring up at the Mövenpick Hotel. This mammoth is a complex hotel situated right on the river, adjoining to the Amsterdam cruise terminal. When strolling through the reception, I gleaned that this hotel is primarily used for business trips. Everything was immaculate, and the staff were extremely helpful. Thus, before entering my room, I had very high expectations. The room itself was fairly standard, and I did feel somewhat disappointed by the dust prevalent. Resembling somewhat a parallel version of Holiday Inn. Adding a scent of luxury, I must say the bathroom was extraordinary; fitted with a large bath and jet-shower. Although we received very minimal sleep (after arriving back at the hotel for 3am-but that’s another story), the mattresses were reasonably comfy.
Organised by Super Break, we received a city tour of Amsterdam visiting the key cultural locations such as the Maritime Museum dating back to 1656 to the Chinese floating restaurant. Ship-shaped, the museum is suitable for all ages with video games and even plays in the museum to keep the little ones and teens entertained. Hands down-we had the best tour guide I have ever met in my whole life of travel. Though, frustratingly, I don’t remember her name; this was because she told us to call her “Mamma”. But of course, no trip to Amsterdam would be the same without visiting the red light district; which was included in our tour.
The theme of parallel, as I mentioned earlier, is replicated even within the city center itself. You do of course experience the historical element of the city, with locations such as the Van Gough museum and Anne Franke’s house. Nonetheless, there is a new modern aspect to Amsterdam arising with the accessibility created by the Trams and the modern facilities such as a Bull Machine situated in the town center. Like a breath of fresh air, Amsterdam seems to be updating itself to a modern traveler. Note to self; watch out for Trams as they creep up on you when you least expect it.
Wandering back to our hotel at around 3 pm, I actually managed to sneak in a few additional ship visits with my good friend Scott Anderson from the Luxury Cruise Company. Newbie for me, Scott managed to get us onboard four river cruise ships to have a wander around and compare to ocean cruising. With this being my first experience with river cruise ships, I found myself constantly chopping and changing my mind. Luxury was a key theme present on all the ships we visited, however, my favorite part of a cruise holiday is all the entertainment found onboard. Therefore, after visiting I still couldn’t make up my mind if this would be something that intrigued me to book.
For the majority of the river ships we visited, the facilities consisted of a restaurant/lounge, gym, spa, and mini-pool. One element that definitely tempted me was the cabins, which are all suites of course. With the latest Jacuzzi bath models, large balcony spaces and lounge areas; these resembled the top cabins available on mainstream cruise ships. So, after a day of exploration, my stomach began to churn with hunger.
Sit back, watch Amsterdam pass by you and indulge in a luscious steak; sounds like heaven doesn’t it? Subsequently, after changing into my Sunday’s best, I was treated to a three-course riverboat dinner with 360 panoramic views. Aside from in taking the breathtaking sights, the gourmet dining complimented the whole trip finishing on a high. Delicately I cut into the tender steak and savored the moist texture; soaking in all the flavor. Peering into the sunset, I was left in a state of sheer relaxation in indulgence. This is the real Amsterdam.
My Favourite Travel Accessories!
(click to expand)
**Disclaimer: Please note that in order for me to carry on providing free cruise & travel tips, I participate in affiliate marketing. At no additional cost to you, I earn a small fee on sales of these bestselling products. This allows me to keep the site up and running, and provide you with the best free guidance. Some of the links found on this page are part of my affiliate marketing.**