Journey through Europe: first stop Amsterdam

Updated: May 3

It's not a joke when they say that Amsterdam is a city of bicycles. I never saw a bike parking garage before!

This is near the main train station, Amsterdam Centraal.

We arrived in Amsterdam for the start of a many-stop trip through a few European countries. We flew KLM who offered (a few months ago) an excellent price. Amenities on board were few (a blanket but no pillow, sub-par airplane food, no salt and pepper) but a very gracious and professional crew, and the main thing: we got there!

We managed to figure out how to get tickets and which train to get to the center. We reserved our first night in a hotel downtown, the Ibis.

After a sleepless night, it was hard to get up from the bed, but we were hungry and I was craving fish. I remembered rollmops from decades ago, bought on the street. I don't know if those exist anymore. We located a seafood restaurant called Seafood Bistro. Herring was not on the menu, but our wonderful waitress Corina offered us one raw herring filet with chopped pickle and onion: fresher than the freshest sushi. Plus fried calamari, shrimp, cod, and steamed mussels. It was more than enough food even if it was breakfast, lunch and dinner combined!

The old city is as beautiful as ever, even if it is geared towards tourists. We were out on a weekday at an odd hour, so we had the restaurant all for ourselves and the streets were not crowded. The next day, after a mostly sleepless night thanks to jet lag, we were scheduled to go to Keukenhof to see the famous Dutch tulips (April-May is prime viewing season). We had already reserved tickets online before leaving the US, and bought a subway ticket. However the Keukenhof website didn’t mention that there was an additional cost for a dedicated bus after the subway. It would have been cheaper if we had waited to purchase an all-in-one ticket at the bus stop.

We forgot our woes once we arrived at Keukenhof. There are so many flowers! Tulips of innumerable types, daffodils, crocus; a pavilion dedicated to orchids; fragrant brightly colored hyacinths… the weather was gray, the blooms weren’t all as open as we would have liked them to be, but still, so much beauty to enjoy.

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