Saturday, February 20, 2016

                                                   AMSTERDAM & Surrounds
                                       (48 hours is too little!!)

So coming out of their winter, now is the time to visit. If you haven't planned your Amsterdam visit yet, best you do it now.  To view the Tulips in full bloom, you need to be there from Mid April and not later than end of May. Did you know that Tulips are not indigenous to Holland ? (actually a wild flower growing in Central Asia) but it was the Dutch that made them famous (and maybe even vice versa). You should put in a visit to Aalsmeer, the world's biggest flower auction, just a mere 30 minutes from Amsterdam. An experience not to be missed.

Amsterdam is such an easy destination to reach, for us Namibians . Take the direct flight from Windhoek to Frankfurt and rail from there into Centraal Station, or take the flight via Johannesburg to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and also rail from there to Centraal Station. These may not be the cheapest options but definitely the most direct, and if you only have a week or two holiday, you should consider the saving of money vs saving on time. Spend as much time as possible
"on the ground", at your destination. 

The Dutch Capital may be small (in comparison to other European Capital Cities) but it definitely does not lack in sightseeing to suit all tastes. The "cultural punch" that this city offers outweighs so many of it's counterparts -  The Rijksmuseum (with new Exhibitions by the way) ,  The Van Gogh museum ( but don't be fooled into thinking all his famous work is exhibited there)  and a visit to Anne Frank's house, the German born Jewish Holocaust victim, is also not to be missed. Be warned though, the queues are always long even if you have a ticket, so you need to set aside some time for these visits.

If you are visiting the Rijksmuseum, I suggest you do so with a guide. It can be very overwhelming, and if you are there just to see the highlights then spend the money to book a guided tour. You are then sure, that you will not miss out on anything - and anyway- these guides have a wealth of information that you just won't get from reading the identification plates on each artwork. Even the audio self guided tours that you can get is not as great as it is when you are with an actual guide.   

The area around Centraal Station, Dam square and Damrak, can be somewhat " seedy" but you cannot avoid this area, as a lot happens here. If you miss Dam square, you haven't really
" seen " Amsterdam. It is from here where you explore the medieval city centre, The Queens palace, and of course the famous "de Walletjes" a.k.a. the red light district.

If you are into shopping, you need to visit the famous department store chain De Bijenkorf
( Literally meaning the bee-hive) with it's flagship store at Dam Square.  Some fantastic High-End shopping can be done here. The place being a " hive of activity" ( excuse the pun )

The Dutch pea soup is to "die for" and is a must amongst the Dutch food which is varied and delicious. Rembrant Plain should be visited if you are looking for great cafes & restaurants. The street cafes at Rembrant Plein, is the perfect spot to sit and enjoy a drink and meal, whilst watching tourists (plenty of these) and locals enjoying the long summer days.

Watch out for bicycles. In Amsterdam they have right of way. I dubbed them " killer bikes" You really need to keep your wits about you when walking in Amsterdam. There are marked bike paths but these are between the road and the sidewalks, and if you are not attentive or careful, you find yourself walking on the bike paths and they don't stop for you and you become a victim of " bike rage " if you are in their way.

The town of Delft is also worth a visit. Besides visiting a working Delft Factory, you are taken back into history here. The famous artist Johannes Vermeer was born in Delft.  I found a beautiful painting in a small little "antique" shop just off the main square in Delft, which now proudly hangs in my entrance hall here at home. It is no Vermeer, but still a beautiful reminder of my trip to Amsterdam and surrounds.

If you have time, you must visit the quaint fishing village of Volendam, about 30minutes by Bus from Amsterdam and then take a ferry to Marken. You can even fit in Zaanze Schans, if you have a full day to spare. I loved getting out of the " hustle and bustle " of Amsterdam for the day and spend time here.  In Volendam we spent time in a Cheese Factory and had fresh fish at the harbour. We took the ferry from there to Marken and got to see how Dutch Clogs are made. At Zaanze Schans, you get the chance to visit a working windmill.

I will recommend a visit to Amsterdam, to any of my clients and friends - young and old. There is so much to see and do.  I would even add Amsterdam to my list of choices for Honeymoon destinations.

If you need to book your next holiday, you need to contact myself and my travel consultants, here at XL The Travel Professionals.  With our first hand experience of many destinations world-wide, you cannot miss out on choosing us to book your treasured holidays.

We love to travel -  we love planning your holidays.

We can be reached at Tel +264 61 253528 , e-mail or come visit us in Maerua Mall Windhoek. You can also check out our website

We look forward to being part of your travel experiences
Best wishes until next time
Chantell van den Heever