Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

8th April 2014

Amsterdam Miscellany
Posted by at 6.54pm | 2 responses | Out and About

I amsterdam city cardWe’ve come to the end of my Amsterdam blog pentalogy, as I round up some of the other highlights of my visit.

I amsterdam city card

This handy tourist card costs just €57 for 48 hours and gives free or discounted access to a whole host of attractions. It also has an OV-chipkaart built in to give unlimited rides on Amsterdam’s bus, tram and metro systems. It can be bought online, where you receive a voucher to print off and exchange for the card at a tourist information centre (there’s one opposite Centraal Station and another at Schipol Airport).

You also get a handy fold up map of the city to help you get around. Highly recommended.

Canal cruise

We had some time to kill on our last day, so went on a canal cruise. Holland International Canal Cruises leave from a terminal near the station and, as our I amsterdam cards included a free canal cruise, it seemed a shame to waste the opportunity.

Canal Cruise Robert on the canal

There was a brief delay as the captain seemed to be struggling with the boat. A reboot of all the systems (complete with Windows XP start-up sound over the PA system) did the trick, and we were soon on our way.

We briefly sailed out onto the IJ, passing the city’s cruise ship terminal, before returning for a sedate chug around the city’s canals. I did my best to ignore the annoyingly loud tourists sitting behind us so I could listen to the trilingual commentary.

I wish we’d done the cruise on the first day, as it was a great introduction to Amsterdam giving a good overview of the city’s sights. I also saw an even more fun way to get around:


I definitely must try that next time.


There is no shortage of great places to eat in Amsterdam. On our first night we ended up in De Bolhoed, a vegan restaurant which had been recommended by Ian’s guidebook. I was dubious – my general rule is that a meal without meat isn’t a meal, it’s a snack – but went ahead and ordered a tofu stir fry. It was delicious – when it eventually arrived. The apologetic waitress informed us that the bit of paper containing our order had mysteriously gone missing.

On the plus side, it did give Ian plenty of time to get acquainted with a new friend.

De Bolhoed Stir Fry Ian and Cat

On our second night we ate at Hemelse Modder. This was more like it – a big juicy sirloin steak. I devoured it eagerly, doing my best to avoid veggie Ian’s disapproving looks. There were plenty of conversations in English at the surrounding tables, so this restaurant is obviously popular with tourists – and for good reason too. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, you should definitely check it out!

Honourable mentions to the café at Centrum de Roos, which provided a very nice vegetable samosa for lunch, and similarly the café at Beurs Van Berlage, where I scoffed a ridiculously large burger. Well, I had a long journey ahead of me.

Beurs van Berlage


We booked into the Hampshire Hotel on Rembrandtplein which was a little on the expensive side but very comfortable, with wi-fi thrown in (a Godsend for Ian who had no data roaming for the duration of the trip). It’s very near a tram stop on a direct line from the station, and within easy walking distance of many tourist attractions.

Hotel room

My only real quibble was that the bathroom has a glass partition instead of a proper door. There is frosting on the middle section of glass – enough to cover naughty bits – but be prepared for every sound of your ablutions to be heard by your companion. It’s fine as long as you’re quite good friends and don’t mind a slight shortage of privacy.

Still, if you’re going to Amsterdam for a few days, you could do far worse than this place. The area around the Rembrandtplein is full of bars and restaurants, so it can imagine it could be a bit noisy at the weekends.

If you go, tell them Robert sent you. You won’t get a discount or anything, but it might start a conversation.

Public transport

Transport in Amsterdam is uniformly excellent. We relied on the trams to get us around and – apart from one time when we got confused and ended up going in the opposite direction to that intended – it was a trouble free experience.

The Netherlands is light years ahead of the UK on smart ticketing. Pretty much all ticketing is in the form of the OV-chipkaart, Holland’s equivalent of Oyster or ITSO – except theirs has already rolled out nationwide and is used for all tickets – even a “normal” single or return ticket is encoded on a chip.

Metro train Tram

At this point I’ll send you over to Ian’s blog for his review of the Amsterdam Metro.

De Engel van Amsterdam

The only gay bar we checked out while there. It was Wednesday and perhaps because of that it was fairly quiet. I entertained myself by looking at the flyers they were giving out, including one advertising “kilt night” at a local bear club. I couldn’t persuade Ian to go, worse luck.

Amsterdam’s emblem

Incorporates the letters “XXX”, which is nothing to do with the more familiar usage of the letters, but amused me nevertheless.

Amsterdam XXX

They’re everywhere, and they have a habit of sneaking up on you unannounced. Several times both Ian and I stepped without looking onto what we thought was the footpath, only to have some irate cyclist ring his bell at us. It’s great to see so many people cycling, but you really do have to keep your wits about you.

So, that was Amsterdam. It was a fun visit, but a brief one. It’s such an exciting city and I know that I barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer. I want to go back there, as soon as time and cheap advance train fares allow.

Amsterdam night

Oh, actually I’ve just remembered one more thing…



Whatever they’re selling, I want to buy it.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses
  1. Comment by Ian
    8th April 2014 at 8:29 pm

    You left out all the (cough) James Bond locations we visited.

  2. Comment by Andrew
    9th April 2014 at 3:38 pm

    “as soon as time and cheap advance train fares allow”

    Can I please direct you to

    From £50 Return if you book well in advance & time wise it will whisk you to Schiphol in 1 hour & 20 mins, you can be there by 8:45am & in the city by 10am meaning you can really make the most of a short trip there!