A Trip to Amsterdam – I

It was time once again to flee from work and most other responsibilities, and journey away to strange and distant lands. I realized I hadn’t used my passport in ages, so I felt it was time to blow the dust off it and head off to someplace interesting.

I asked around a little: Which place is more fun for a single adult male – London, Paris, or Amsterdam? The answer was clear, and given the title of this post, you should be able to figure out which city won.

I have this opinion that when you are flying to a foreign land, you should go via that country’s national airline. True, for some countries, you probably don’t want to do that – but those tend to be places you go to because you have to, not because you’re on vacation. But when you have the option, it serves as an introduction to that country. The flight crew will speak English, of course, but they’ll do it with an accent. If you’re getting food, no doubt the serving ware will have been designed by someone from that country, and will be in an appropriate style. Perhaps even the food itself will feature the national cuisine.

Anyway, I was happy to see that I could get a good deal on a round trip from new York to Amsterdam via KLM, the Dutch national airline. As it happened, I had saved up enough money so I could afford an “Upper Class” ticket. I was not going to sit “in steerage” for seven or eight hours…..

Many airlines have their own names for the “Deluxe” level of service. Business Class, Prioirty Travel, World Class, and the like. “First Class” has generally been dropped as far as I can tell. To make it easy on us, I’m just going to refer to it as “Upper Class”, since it strokes my ego.

With regards to the introduction to Dutch culture, KLM’s safety video was done through stop-motion animation of over 1,000 hand-painted Delft blue tiles.

One of the perks was the little “amenities” kit. Eye mask, toothbrush (with a cap over the bristles) and the world’s smallest tube of toothpaste, earplugs, and disposable socks. Enough fabric so you can take off your own shoes and socks and put them on for comfort while you try to sleep, but I wouldn’t trust them to survive even a hand washing.

I decided to doze off instead of watching any of the in-flight entertainment. Arrived at Schipol on time, and made it through Customs with no trouble. A pre-arranged shuttle got me to my hotel – well, as close as the driver could get, given that the place wasn’t on an actual street and there was a police station right there….

The Inntel Hotel at Amsterdam Centre really is effectively right in the center of anywhere you’d want to go. A five minute walk from the train station and Damrak Square (where a lot of canal boat tours dock), two minutes from one of the major shopping streets, a bike rental place three doors down, and a trolley stop a literal stone’s throw away.

The room was tiny but comfortable – and when you’re on vacation, do you really intend to spend a lot of time in your hotel room? The one amenity that they didn’t have was the humble washcloth. Large towels for the whole body, medium ones for the hands and face, but no small ones for actually washing and scrubbing. Maybe it’s a Dutch thing.

More to come!

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