Amsterdam – day 1.

We left Albuquerque at 1:10 PM on Tuesday, April 14, and we arrived in Amsterdam at 11:10 AM on Wednesday, April 15.  There was a brief stop in Atlanta and two flights and two fights with Delta airlines. Eight hour flights are not the most fun thing and neither of us slept much, but we were energized by the adventure ahead when we arrived in Amsterdam.

{I am in no way a travel expert, but a few tips do come to mind after our recent trip.  I’ll throw those in for the bargain price of free – because that’s probably what they’re worth – in these trip recap posts and you can do with them as you like.  The ratio of serious to joking will vary and can be interpreted at your discretion.}

Travel tip #1:  If possible, don’t fly Delta. 

There was a brief moment of panic when we tried to buy train tickets at a kiosk and the machine said our credit card was declined.  It’s scary to be so far from home with limited Euros in cash and not have that credit limit in all its glory.  There was also a cell phone issue – Kevin tried to call the credit card company and was yelled at via Dutch recording.  I went to try out the credit card in a nearby store (good news!  the kiosks just don’t accept ‘foreign’ cards.  Cards were fine!) and he called Verizon (good news!  you just have to add a + to the beginning of the number to call out.  Phone was fine!).  I got a couple of 24 hour transport system passes from the store and directions about which bus to take, and we went on our merry way.

Travel tip #2:  Exchange money before leaving home.  Kevin learned that we could exchange dollars for Euros at our bank, so he did that the day before we left on the trip.  It was nice to have the Euros on hand immediately, and we got a better exchange rate. 

Travel tip #3:  Call your credit card company(ies) to advise them of your upcoming trip.  Do this even if you’re not planning to use a credit card.  It’s just good to be prepared.  We had done this and still had a moment of panic, but that moment would have been lots of moments if we’d forgotten this step. 

Travel tip #4:  Call your cell carrier to get an international data plan and learn the tricks of placing phone calls from whatever country you’ll be visiting.  Maybe the + is standard internationally, but we certainly had no clue.  My phone was on airplane mode through the entire trip and I would connect to wifi occasionally.  Kevin’s was mostly on airplane mode, but we had the option to turn it back to cellular if we needed the map app or to make a phone call. 

We were on that bus for a looooooong time.  Then we switched to another bus and rode it for awhile.  It was a great way to get an introduction to the city and see parts of town that we otherwise wouldn’t have seen.  Definitely not the most direct route to our AirBnB accommodation, but it all worked out okay.  Finally we reached the proper stop, walked a couple of blocks up the proper road, found the proper cigarette/magazine shop where our host had left the key, and let ourselves into the proper apartment.  The place was as described and we were satisfied, so we dropped our bags and headed out to find some food.

IMG_0031^ Living room, kitchen, and the awesome backyard. ^

Lunch was at Grannie’s, very nearby the apartment.  We sat outside, soaking up the lovely sunshine and getting our first taste (literally) of the Netherlands – delicious sandwiches.  We chatted with a local sitting at the table next to ours and this would be a foreshadowing of our favorite part of Amsterdam:  the people.  They were really friendly and helpful.

This was also our first taste of the difference in dining out there versus home.  People linger over meals and really make an event out of it.  It’s rude for the server to bring the check before it’s requested.  This was an adjustment for us – accustomed to the can-I-get-you-anything-else-no-okay-here’s-your-check style of ‘Merica.

Travel tip #5:  Research dining etiquette of the area you’re visiting.  Do you ask for the check?  Wait?  Tip?  Don’t tip?  So many unspoken rules of the table!

The afternoon included a nap on the fantastic back deck and garden of the apartment and plenty of cuddles from the friendliest cat either of us have ever met.  Sugar is her name and she came with the apartment.  We’re cat people (as you – hello – know if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time) so we thought it was great, but non-cat people would definitely be overwhelmed by Sugar’s paws-on approach.

IMG_0027

Our host (not Sugar…the human host) stopped by to show us a few things about the apartment and answer any questions we may have.  Then Kevin and I set out to explore the neighborhood a bit.  We found canals (classic), ice cream (win), and a dinner spot (double win).  Dinner was at Tast oe Amsterdam – I had pasta, Kevin had sole.

IMG_0028

IMG_9857

We were tuckered out and called it an early night after dinner.  It was a great first day in Europe!

 

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17 thoughts on “Amsterdam – day 1.

  1. Nicely done! I forget – had you guys been abroad before this?

    Also, I’ve never had an issue with Delta. I’m sad you did! (I’ve flown them a lot since my Dad lives in Atlanta and that’s their hub).

  2. These are awesome tips! Mike and I are planning to travel out of the country together for the first time this year and next so I will definitely refer back to this for reminders!

  3. You look so cute standing there with your ice cream cone! (And very European with the blazer and the boots!) I like that you guys rented an apartment instead of just a standard hotel–your backyard does look really neat! Traveling internationally is ALWAYS stressful….there are just so many unknowns!

  4. Great tips! A lot of times people hear that you can just go to a bank or ATM and exchange money in country, which is great as long as there are no hiccups. But if there are, it’s sure nice to know you have some local currency in your pocket and wont’ go hungry! So glad you guys had such a fun trip, and that apartment looks lovely!

  5. You guys trying to buy train tickets at the kiosk reminds me of our first day in Italy. It was on a Sunday. We took the free airport shuttle to the center of the city where we then got on a bus. We tried to pay for our tickets on the bus and found out quickly that you have to buy tickets at the tobacco shops. So we got off the bus and started looking for a tobacco shop. And discovered that they aren’t open on Sundays. Thankfully a bus driver took pity on us and let us pay him directly. That definitely would’ve been helpful information to know ahead of time from one of the many travel books we read, ha!

    So, what happened with Delta that caused the fights?

    Look at you with your ice cream! Looking so adorable! :)

  6. That kitchen floor!! *gasping with awe* Me likely.
    I can’t believe you got an apartment with a cat! How appropriate for you two. The yard is beautiful, and your first day sounds like a winner (minus credit card and phone troubles).

  7. Dang that sounds like a great first day in Europe! I can’t believe that was her backyard…I thought it was your lunch spot at first! Aww I love how the kitty came with! I totally wouldn’t mind staying somewhere with a friendly dog :P

  8. I’m interested in your experience with airbnb, like how you set it up and everything. I always wanted to try it. Amsterdam is beautiful!

  9. i learned some of your travel tips the hard way, too. i had my wallet stolen on the plane when i went to dublin, and finding money was nearly *impossible.* luckily a girl i had met at the airport lent me $400 until i could make it to the american express in rome (advantage of amex is that they have international offices and will give you cash in a bind!!). also – when i studied abroad in italy, my first meal was forevvvvver because i didn’t realize i had to ask for the check. it all becomes a funny story in the end :)

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  12. AH, these pictures!!! I’m clearly really behind on my blog reading, so sorry for the influx of comments that’s about to happen…I’m so excited to read all these Europe posts! I love these tips…so many things that you wouldn’t just think of on your own! Also, that cat looks so sweet :-) I love that she came with the apartment!

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