Consider joining Travel With Chardoul on Paul’s next group venture. This one includes several days in Amsterdam, then joining other passengers on a ship that spends the next seven nights going up the Rhine River, through the Netherlands, Germany, touching on France, and then debarking in Basel, Switzerland. Then an additional two nights in Lucerne and a final two nights in Zurich before returning home.
Although I have written the material below for those who have already signed up for the “Captivating Rhine” trip assembled by AmaWaterways, if this synopsis of the trip intrigues you, why don’t you contact me and I can give you specific details of cost and the way to join our happy crew. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. But the last time I checked, the ship – that has a maximum number of staterooms – is filling up. AmaWaterways and other cruise lines are not having having difficulties filling their ships for 2021 as many who had signed up for 2020 cruises were forced to cancel and there is pent-up demand for others for 2021 cruises. One advantage that I can provide is a reduced rate as a group.
The first we will be exposed to the Netherlands is flying into Amsterdam Schiphol, one of the world’s busiest airports. Located slightly south of the city, you will be impressed by the total flatness of the land on the approach.
Take a look at the process of flying into Schiphol (AMS on the International Airport Code) on a Boeing 747. This flight was from Miami and made its land approach (“feet dry”) at 146º, that would be from the southeast, changing to 090º (east) and eventually to 360º (due north).
Note that even though the plane is landing in the Netherlands, the only language that you hear over the various radio circuits is English. This is the standard language for all air operations worldwide, even though this was a KLM airplane. Look at all the gauges, dials, and displays both on the dashboard and above the pilots’ heads! They have to observe and use every one of them. Here is the landing.
Once we land, we clear customs and passport control, then get our checked bags. I most highly recommend that you purchase some Euros from your local bank at home as the exchange rates in airports are generally not very favorable. Besides, you don’t want to hold up others in your group. As I am writing this on 2 August 2020, the exchange rate is 1€ = $1.1779. I will find the AmaWaterways agent who will be there to greet us and take the group to the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky for our two-night stay. Located in the central city, this hotel truly is grand.
The hotel is about 50 meters from Dam Square, considered the city center (can’t get much closer than that!). Although the population of Amsterdam is 1,140,000, it is a very walkable city as the major sites are fairly close. As the canals form a series of semi-circles spreading out from Dam Square, you will get used to crossing many bridges to move out from the center. The tram system is quite efficient and our hotel is only one kilometer from the Central Station. [Centraal Station — note the Dutch spelling]
What I am setting up here is a series of short articles that I have written that will give you a feel for what we will be doing.
So that you can get a feel of the general geography of Amsterdam, here is a Google interactive map of the city.
You will see that our hotel (if this is the one that we get) is about 200 meters from the Rembrandt House (Huis).
Short Description of Central Amsterdam
The city is often called “Venice of the North” with it canals and a great charm. Unlike other urban areas that we have visited, Amsterdam is only 800 years old, with a great growth during the “Dutch Golden Age.” As the land all around is at or below sea level, Amsterdammers have created a labyrinthine-like network of over 165 man-made canals, with a total length of about 60 miles. To cross these canals, they built 1281 bridges! You will see many houseboats and of course the quaint cobblestone streets.
Like many cities, there are distinct neighborhoods. Maybe the most vibrant is Jordaan. Originally it was a working-class area, but it has been gentrified. Its charm is in part the maze of streets and canals, colorful building façades, eetcafés (that are similar to Parisian bistros), great little bars, gourmet restaurants, specialty shops and art galleries. There are also open-air markets. Don’t be surprised or offended if you see people smoking joints in the coffee shops. It IS legal there.
Always keep an eye out for the various gable types Amsterdam Gables
Near our hotel is Westerkerk. Anne Frank could hear the bells pealing from her hiding place as it was near the edge of the Jordaan district. Rembrandt moved into his house in 1658 to take advantage of the cheaper rents.
Many of you have the Dutch experience of only flying into and out of Amsterdam. If you want to learn more about the history of the Netherlands, click on Netherlands
Click on the various URLs and pictures to get a better graphic portrayal of what we will see and experience.
Things To Do In Amsterdam
We will not have a lot of free time, but consider the following possibilities:
- If you get an I Amsterdam City Card (can get 24 hour, 48 hour, or 72 hour pass), it gives you access to over 70 museums and attractions including Rijkmuseum, Van Gogh, Rembrandt House Museum, NEMO Science Museum, discounts at restaurants, canal cruises, public transport (I would not recommend any longer than 24 hours).
- You can get the card on line or at one of three visitor centers – ask at hotel desk
- You get some skip-the-line privileges
- You can visit Haarlem
- Rijksmuseum for Old Masters https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en
- Van Gogh Museum https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en
- Stedelijk for modern and contemporary art and design https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stedelijk_Museum_Amsterdam
- Hermitage Amsterdam https://hermitage.nl/en/
- National Maritime Museum https://www.hetscheepvaartmuseum.com
- Rembrandt House Museum https://www.rembrandthuis.nl/ticket-shop/prices-and-information/?lang=en
- Tropenmuseum https://www.tropenmuseum.nl/en
- Anne Frank House https://www.annefrank.org/en
- Narrowest house in the world at Singel 7
- Smallest church in Amsterdam in Nieuwendam, in Amsterdam North
- Heineken Experience, in downtown Amsterdam https://www.heinekenexperience.com/en/
- This is a museum rather than brewery since 1991
- Brew Your Ride, 4D adventure inside a bottle of beer
- At Stadhouderskade 78
- €18 includes two chilled beers. Is €3 discount for online purchase.
- Tour is 90 minutes
- Mennonite church “hidden” on street. At Singel 452. 1017 AW Amsterdam
- Coster Diamonds. Collection of diamonds greater than one carat. https://www.costerdiamonds.com
- At Paulus Potterstraat 2-8. 1071 CZ Amsterdam.
On Wednesday 4 August, after a hotel breakfast, our Travel With Chardoul group will meet with other shipmates and travel north for about 30 minutes through polder country to Zaanse Schans. This is a relocated town as old buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries from all over the Netherlands were brought together. It includes a collection of windmills, people in regional costumes, and interactive exhibits on chocolate making. You can watch artisans make wooden clogs (the word sabot is important. These wooden shoes were standard foot ware throughout the low areas because they were impervious to the continual standing water. Just a few sizes were made, and if I remember correctly, there is no distinction between left and right. Wearers got the “correct” size by adding layers of stockings. Historically, early machines had wooden gears and escapements. If a “wrecker” wanted to stop work for whatever reason, he would remove a sabot and throw it into the gears. Thus the word “sabotage.”)
Thursday, 5 August, after breakfast, we will check out of our hotel and get a panoramic tour of Amsterdam to see some of the bridges, canals and cobblestone streets. Then we board our ship, AmaMora. I am assuming that it will be docked somewhere on the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal. It will take a few minutes to get to our individual cabins. This is a good time to unpack (YEA! Nothing in suitcases for a week!) and get a feel for where things are aboard the ship. Take a look at this information on our ship to get a preview of the orientation process.
I recommend that you leave the ship for the rest of the day and do some exploring on your own. The ship will be moored about a mile or so from the Museumplein where most of the major museums are located (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Rembrandt Huis Museum, etc.) ship’s company can recommend how to get there and back. Dinner will be served aboard the ship.
At this time, I do not have specific times for events, but with your check-in aboard AmaMora, you will get a detailed time schedule.
Friday, 6 August, we leave the ship and board a small boat to explore some of the city’s canals. We will see tall narrow houses along the water, the Skinny Bridge and the Anne Frank House. Some of you will remember that we did something similar in Paris and St. Petersburg. Then we return to the ship and prepare for our departure. Remember: for the next week, all meals are aboard the ship – unless we get a shore excursion that keeps us away from the ship at meal time.
For those who have never been on a river cruise, the initial departure is quite festive. As most of you have staterooms with large windows, you can watch from that vantage point, or you can go up to the top deck to get a 360º panorama. I have put together some mental meanderings on the first four days of the Rhine that you might want to check out here. The Rhine: An Informational Essay Take a look at my short history of Germany, because we will be spending the majority of our time there. You might want to go through the material within that history. It also has our daily schedule of what we will be seeing until we depart the ship on 12 August.
For the Swiss extension from 12-15 August, here are details for that. When we Leave the Ship