December 29, 2005 in Travel

Amsterdam: Day One: Running on Fumes

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Despite the fact that I had been off since last Friday (December 23rd), I failed to pack for my trip to Amsterdam until the very last minute. This meant that with a 7:30am flight on the 28th, I only managed to get about 3 hours sleep. Nonetheless, I arrived in Amsterdam ready to experience as much as possible during the next 4.5 days.
And less than an hour after arriving at Schiphol Airport, I was in downtown Amsterdam. The train to Centraal Station was very quick. And in a matter of minutes, I was then at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. Since my room was not yet ready, I stored my suitcase and began walking around.
First stop was De Bijenkorf, Amsterdam’s answer to Harrods in London, Macy’s in New York and of course, Marshall Fields, in Chicago. The store was beautifully decorated for the holidays and that put me in a really good mood. Such a good mood in fact, that within minutes of being in the store, I almost purchased a long black wool coat. But in that I’d only been in the city for a short while, I thought it best to look around a bit more. As such, moved on to the Magna Plaza Shopping Mall. Not much in there excited me, so again decided to move on.
But not to more shopping. First to lunch at Cafe De Oude Wester at corner of Rozengracht and Prinsengracht. Then on to one of the nearby museums, The Anne Frank House. It took a while to get in, but was glad that I waited in the cold. While I hadn’t read the published version of Anne Frank’s diary, I was nonetheless familiar with her story and as I climbed the steep stairs over four floors and went from room to room, I felt strange. Strange as I was within the very house that had shielded the Frank family for 25 months before the Nazis discovered and deported them. Strange because it was such a sad story but one that I’m glad got told through her published journal.
After the museum, I then walked around the Jordann area looking at the impressive architecture and stopping to browse some of the funky shops in the area. Yet again, I resisted the urge to buy anything.
As time was getting on, I then walked back to the hotel and was excited to learn that my room was ready. I was tired and looking forward to getting a nap. However, when I got to my room, I was most disappointed. The room simply wasn’t adequate. The hotel was supposed to be 5 stars but the room was a single and reminded me of one you’d find at Holiday Inn (no offense to that chain). It was bland and uninspiring and apparently was on the wing of the hotel that hadn’t been updated in oh, about 30something years. So after kicking up a fuss, I got them to switch me to one of their neighboring hotels the NH Barbizon Place since they didn’t have an alternative room at this hotel; more importantly one in the size that I had reserved. I was bummed to be away from Dam Square which would be the center of a lot of the action on New Year’s Eve, but I just knew I wouldn’t be happy staying at NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. Not in that room with the single size bed. I mean, I haven’t slept on one of those since college.
Anyway, this hotel chain, NH had set the bar high when I stayed at their hotel in Barcelona and this was one was somewhat of a let down; despite the very majestic lobby. Having said that, they redeemed themselves with my room at the NH Barbizon Place. And after dinner at nearby Al Argentino Steakhouse Restaurant, I was happy to get a good nights rest.

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