Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Amsterdam Central

Fri, 5 June 2015

Today we would be going back to Amsterdam to catch our flight back to Kuala Lumpur the next day. Our flight from Rome to Schipol was scheduled at 10.25am. We took the Leonardo express train from Roma Termini, just a walking distance from our accommodation at Friendship Place to Rome Fumiciano Airport (FCO) at 7.30 am which took 32 minutes and cost EUR14. The boarding gates at FCO were a bit cramped and we had to take the bus from our boarding gate to the plane. We were served healthy and yummy Beemster cheese sandwich and stroopkoekje biscuit on our KLM flight.
Fumiciano (FCO) airport, Rome

stroopkoekje biscuit

beemster cheese sandwich

 We arrived at Schipol at 1pm and waited for our free shuttle bus to Bastion Hotel, which is only about 10 minutes from the airport. Again, the reason we stayed  near the airport was because we couldn't get good deals at Amsterdam central due to the peak season and we probably made bookings quite late. Our room at Bastion was way better and spacious than Ibis Hotel that we stayed just a week earlier (Bastion was fully booked during that time). Electric jug kettle was provided with complimentary water, tea and coffee sachets (yeay!) and the bathroom was also spacious.

our beedroom
kettle provided!
spacious bathroom
Bastion hotel facade

We rested a bit and made our way to Amsterdam Central via the hotel shuttle van to the airport and then took the 197 bus to Central. We planned to buy the GVB Amsterdam Day ticket which cost EUR 7.50. We read that it could be bought from the bus driver, so we asked this before boarding the bus. We were told yes, so we boarded the 197 bus. When we wanted to pay, we were told it cost EUR 5 and it was a manual paper ticket. So I felt a bit awry then asked is this a day ticket, but was told it was a one way ticket only! Apparently there has been a misunderstanding between us and the driver. But since we already paid and the bus was already moving, we relented. Please note to just buy the Day ticket from the Tourist Information Centre at Schipol to be safe.

We alighted at Leidseplein then walked towards the Bloemenmarkt which is a floating flower market . It was already 4.30pm by now so we couldn't make it in time to Albert Cuypstraat market which closes at 5pm. Oh dear, we missed it yet again as on the first time we were there, it was already closed. Looks like we have to re-visit Amsterdam since we also didn't get to visit Keukonhof Garden with the famous tulip as it was only opened from 20 March to 17 May only in 2015. For 2016, it will open from 24 March to 16 May. Do take note of the dates if you plan to visit.

Indeed the Bloemenmarket is very pretty with all the flowers and plants. Beware - cannabis plants are also sold here! There's even a cannabis starter kit! We also bought some souvenirs here. We noticed that the price of souvenirs are controlled as it is the same at all the shops, including at the airport. We didn't bargain as we felt it was reasonable enough - and very pretty!

Bloemenmarket by the Singel canal

pretty flowers at Bloemenmarkt
cannabis starter kit

Walking along the city of Amsterdam didn't feel tiring at all although it was already the start of summer and getting hotter (men can be seen without their shirts already!) as it was a sight to behold - the canals and old buildings. The canals of Amsterdam has more than one hundred kilometres of canals, about 90 islands and 1,500 bridges and has it dubbed as the Venice of the North. The three main canals, Herengracht, Prinsengracht, and Keizersgracht, dug in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age are listed under the Unesco World Heritage site. Fact excerpted from here

trams and buildings

shops in old buildings

monuments and buildings


flower and canal

canals of Amsterdam

We felt hungry already by now so we decided to find the Indonesian restaurant nearby Albert Cuypstraat market which I saw earlier. We stumbled upon Iboenda instead and had our late lunch there. It was a mixed rice with dishes concept so we chose the set with rice, 1 meat and 2 vegetable dish for EUR 8.95 We chose the daging rendang, tempe and tauhu. It was amusing to eat something from home in a foreign land, and to see a mat salleh order them with the dish names in its native language! It was a huge portion, so we shared our meal.

Iboenda facade
mixed dishes
our meal
part of the menu

It was raining while we were eating, but by the time we finished it has already subsided. We then walked towards Rijkmuseum to catch the 197 bus back to Schipol, not before taking the mandatory picture at the I amsterdam signage nearby and stroopwafel and cheese shopping at the Henry Willig cheese shop which was near closing time already. Note that you could also buy the stroopwafel and cheese from the supermarket and I got myself a Beemster cheese since I really liked the one on the KLM flight. We then called it a day to rest and pack our bags as we would be going back to KL the next day at noon. Time flew so fast!

I amsterdam sign near Rijkmuseum
Miffy found near Rijksmuseum

It has come to the end of our 1 week adventure covering Amsterdam, Milan, Venice and Rome. Such an enriching experience to get to see the people, culture, architecture and history of the various cities.
Thank you so much for the valuable and memorable experience, Netherlands and Italy.



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