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06/08/2015 – Written by Melissa Lisell

How do you make the most of 24 hours in Amsterdam? Explore the streets by foot, cruise the canals by boat, and enjoy watching the hustle and bustle from one of the many sidewalk cafes. 

After flying overnight from New York, LuAnn and I arrived in Amsterdam to find ourselves caught amongst the Monday morning commuter traffic. Luckily, we were not in a rush and secured a cab driver that took us directly to our destination.

The NH Schiller Hotel is located on Rembrandt Plein (Plein = Square in English). We were pleasantly surprised that our room was ready when we checked-in at noon! The receptionist gave us two options a quiet room or one with a view… We chose a room with a view of the square from our French balcony.

After freshening up and checking emails/social media using the hotel’s free wifi, we decided to set out to explore. The concierge gave us a map of the city and circled a few highlights of things we may want to visit. She knew the first item on our agenda was a canal cruise, so she pointed us in the right direction. 

NH Schiller Hotel
Rembrandt Square

We wandered down Reguliers Breestraat, taking in the smells of the restaurants and unique shops along the road. Within 5-10 minutes, we found ourselves staring at the beautiful clock/bell tower of Munttoren Church.  We snapped several shots before ducking into “Tours & Tickets” directly across the street. Here we purchased reserved seats for the 3:00 small boat tour and 6:00 reservations at Amsterdam’s Icebar. The friendly staff at Tours & Tickets directed us through the Flower Market and down Leidstraat to meet the boat at Lovers Canal Cruises. 

The Small Boat Cruise takes a maximum of 25 passengers at a time around Amsterdam’s narrowest canals and hidden corners by an open boat that is solar powered and environmentally-friendly.  There are unlimited photo opportunities as you pass homes of the influential, beautiful churches, the Opera House, Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge), and house boats along the canals. Our captain had lots of information and stories about the places we cruised by during our 1 hour tour.  (Helpful hint: Sit to next to the captain to hear everything. We sat behind her to have the best view but missed some of the information along the way.) 

Crooked Houses
6 Bridges perfectly aligned along the narrow canal
The Blue Bridge (really grey, but nicknamed because it is modeled after the one in London)
Skinny Bridge opening to let a boat pass through

After the cruise ended, we made our way back through the streets to a small sidewalk cafe. The grilled cheese sandwiches and creamy tomato soup were just what we needed to take away the chill of the day. The last big stop was at the -9.5°C Icebar located along the main canal in Amsterdam. We were only inside the Icebar for 10 to 15 minutes, but our hands felt frozen even with the provided gloves and large, heavy coats. It was nice to warm up inside the lounge with a Heineken after the short adventure. 

Finally, it was time to head back to the hotel to relax and start unwinding for the evening. Our plan was to enjoy a glass of wine at the bar in the lobby of our hotel. To our surprise, it was closed for the taping of a popular local program with a live audience and musical guests. (Jason Derulo was a recent featured guest on the program!)

We wandered down the square and found a bar/restaurant with pretty good prices AND wifi. That was the perfect way to catch up with clients, family, and friends while enjoying the European way of life.

A little before midnight, we decided our bodies were adjusting to the new time zone and could call it a night. We both slept soundly until 9 the next morning. Showers, breakfast at the hotel, and quick repacking meant we were ready to grab a 15 minute cab to the ship to start the next segment of our adventure. 

TIPS FOR AMSTERDAM: 

*Watch out for the trolley cars. They are in the middle of the street, without barricades or curbs, and obviously have the right of way over cars AND pedestrians. 

*Cruise the canals FIRST and then walk the city streets. You will have a better idea of the city lay-out, plus you will be able to avoid areas that don’t require a closer inspection. 

*There are smoke shops throughout Amsterdam. Just a warning though, these are not places selling tobacco so think twice before ordering a brownie! 

*If you are visiting the Icebar, make sure to wear long pants and close-toes shoes. 

*During the summer season, the sun does not set until 10 PM. Take advantage of the light and help your body acclimate to the difference in time zones by staying up late the first night.

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