Mobile phones
Getting around

Amsterdam, Delft

10.6: Copenhagen -> Helsingör -> Amsterdam
11.6: Amsterdam
12.6: Amsterdam
13.6: Amsterdam -> Delft -> Copenhagen

Back to the Denmark 2014 travelogue

Overview and overall impression
This was a brief three days visit to the Netherlands. I've been travelling to the Netherlands frequently until 1999, even living there for two years between 1992-94, then no longer visited the country as I moved to Munich. It was the first time for my wife and the kids to the Netherlands. She overall enjoyed the country and stated that there is more to see compared to Denmark. Both Amsterdam and Delft are very picturesque cities with plenty of life and local culture.

The cost of travelling in the Netherlands is higher than in Germany, although not as high as the one in Denmark. We paid 134 Euro/night for a room in the Meininger hotel (conveniently located near a major train station).

Also in the Netherlands we ate mostly in ethnic restaurants (Italian, Chinese) and didn't try out the local cuisine.

The hotel we chose in Amsterdam (the Meininger) was conveniently located a bit west of the city centre, but adjacent to a major train station (Sloterdijk). It was a bit expensive, but overall a good deal considering the comfort level and the location.

Money  / Exchange rate (June 2014)
1 Euro = 1.35 USD
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with a Cirrus/Maestro ATM card. You won't need traveller cheques.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards
Prices for roaming have significantly fallen over the past years, making it economic to roam in the Netherlands with a German SIM card. So this time we purchased some data roaming packages.

Internet access
Since the hotel had no working WLAN in the room I used the 3G phone as a mobile hotspot to download my emails and surf the Internet.

Mostly sunny, some clouds, no rain, max. temperatures around 23-24°C.

Health / Vaccinations
None required for the Netherlands.

VISA / Entry requirements
Visitors from developed countries can enter the Netherlands without a visa or get a visa on arrival. Visitors of other countries need to get a Schengen visa.

No issues here. The Netherlands are a safe country.

Getting around
We used public transportation to get around in the Netherlands. This was easy, as the hotel was adjacent to the Sloterdijk train station, from which trains arrived and departed very frequently. There are several operators offering boat tours across the canals of the historic centre.

10.6: Copenhagen -> Helsingör -> Amsterdam
Meininger hotel Amsterdam City West. 134 Euro for a nice room, relatively basic, but functional. Small, but good toilet with good shower. Wooden floor, A/C in the room, windows can't be opened, flat screen TV, phone. The WLAN in theory exists, but doesn't work. Located adjacent to the Sloterdijk train station, very convenient to get around with public transportation. Shared kitchen in the basement with one washing machine and a dryer.
Weather: slightly overcast in the morning, sunny blue sky in the afternoon. Quite warm in Copenhagen, more fresh in the evening in Amsterdam. No rain the whole day.

The flight from Copenhagen takes off with some delay and reaches Amsterdam shortly before 10pm. No free drinks or food on the plane, except for tea and coffee.

Once in Amsterdam retrieving the luggage is quite fast. We take a taxi to the hotel at 10:20pm (40 Euro), arriving there at 10:50pm.

11.6: Amsterdam
Meininger hotel Amsterdam City West
Weather: Sunny blue sky the whole day. More fresh than in Copenhagen, probably 23-24°C.

In the evening we take a train into town (2.60 Euro, trip takes a few minutes). Apparently there are about 20 trains per hour connecting Sloterdijk with Amsterdam Central station.

We have a dinner at an Italian pasta restaurant (take away pasta, quite delicious) in Amsterdam central station. Then we have a brief look at the area in front of the station.

There is an operator offering a boat trip of the canals costing 15.50 Euro and lasting one hour. Only a couple of hundred metres away another operator is charging only 9 Euro (5 Euro for children).

We take this boat trip at 8:30pm. This brings you across the canals. Picturesque views of the old houses in Amsterdam. Passing under low and narrow bridges. I wonder if all operators do the same itinerary or if there are different itineraries.

We are back around 9:30pm, then get back to the hotel.

12.6: Amsterdam
Meininger hotel Amsterdam City West
Weather: sunny in the morning, some clouds in the afternoon. Sunny again in the evening. No rain.

We leave the hotel after 5pm and catch the next train to Amsterdam Centraal. Once there, because Shirley and the kids are hungry, we have some noodles at the Italian fast food noodle restaurant in the train station.  Later we realise that we could have had dinner in one of the countless restaurants of the old town.  It's just that we don't know right now where they are.

Then we start walking along the Damrak street into the old town. Lots of public works and roadworks are ongoing, which mess up the scenery.  Actually the entire city centre is quite messy and crowded.

Very scenic old town with old, tall Dutch houses. We spend the next few hours until about 9pm exploring the area and discovering curious places. A shop selling cannabis drinks for instance. Tourist shops selling unusual souvenirs.

In the evening, while I'm in town taking some blue hour shots, Shirley calls and tells me the the hairdryer is broken. We'll buy a new one tomorrow.

13.6: Amsterdam -> Delft -> Copenhagen
Hotel Cabinn Metro, Copenhagen. 935 DKK for a quadruple room (which became two twin rooms). Rooms are small, but quite high tech. LCD TV, water boiler, table+chair, tiny cupboard for clothes. Soft bed. Toilet with shower, no hair dryer. Very slow staff. Reception doubling as bar (people in front of you at the reception buying coffee and drinks). Outside parking costs 100 DKK/day.
Our room is not available (that is any quadruple room) because the hotel is overbooked and they gave our room to somebody else. Which is very strange because we have a booking with booking.com and if we don't show up they can charge us in full the room price. They instead give us two adjacent (but not connecting) double rooms. They give us the parking for free as an apology.
This hotel is not bad, but overpriced, and the reception could be faster.
Weather: Sunny, blue sky the whole day. Some thin clouds every now and then. A bit windy and fresh. About 14°C at Copenhagen airport, sky without clouds.

We check out of the hotel at 12pm, leaving the bags there. We then buy a train ticket to Delft (54 Euro return for two adults and two kids). Then we catch the 12:18pm train to Delft (5 minutes delay).

The train trip proceeds smoothly and there are plenty of empty seats to choose from. Fast, free WLAN connection on the train.

Doing a day trip to Delft is a good idea, because Delft is a very pleasant and beautiful, without the chaos and mess of Amsterdam. Beautiful canals bordered by tree and old houses in Dutch style.

The train reaches Delft around 1:20pm. Construction works ongoing, because a new and flashy train station building is replacing the old, historic one.

We walk into the old town and have a good lunch in the Peking Chinese restaurant near the town hall. Staff speaks mandarin. Good food, although not exactly cheap.

Shortly before 3pm we start exploring Delft. Near the restaurant there is the market square with the town hall and the Nieuwe Kerk church. This church has a tall tower (supposedly over 100m tall) from which there is a good view of Delft and the surroundings.

We walk up this tower (6.50€ for me and my two girls; Shirley prefers to watch the event going on in the market square). It's amazing with how much energy these two little girls climb up the tower. I barely manage to catch up with them. They walk up almost non-stop. The staircase is a very narrow and steep one, winding up the tower.

We spend a bit over 10 minutes on the top, then walk down again. We'll spend the next couple of hours until 5pm in Delft. I must say that this is a very touristy place, nicely choreographed, in an idyllic setting.

We catch the 5:20pm train to Amsterdam. This is now very crowded (initially we can't get a seat) and the WLAN also does not work. I guess there are too many people using it. Also connecting to the Internet with the mobile phone works so-so. Probably I'm not the only one using mobile data.

We reach the Sloterdijk station around 6:20pm. It's impossible to continue until Amsterdam Centraal, because there is a fire along the rail track. Supposedly the firefighters are taking care of it, but it's unclear how long the train will be stuck here.

Was thinking of buying a new hairdryer in the Saturn outlet near Amsterdam Centraal, but this probably won't be possible due to lack of time.

So we get back to the hotel and at 7:10pm we get a taxi (41 Euro) to the airport. Trip takes only 20 minutes.

There we check in and go through security. I'm randomly selected for additional screening, even if I have no metal items on me.

In the duty free area (quite big by the way, plenty of shops) I buy a new hair dryer for 65 Euro. Cheapest model is 12 Euro, i.e. prices are competitive.

Free WLAN at the airport, but apparently only for 2 x 30 minutes.

The plane leaves with some delay (should I be surprised - SAS already had some delay in Copenhagen) at 10:05pm and lands in Copenhagen at 11:10pm.

Copyright 2014 Alfred Molon