We landed at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at 6:00 a.m. We had great hopes of being able to grab a few hours of sleep on the plane, but again, that didn't pan out. I think perhaps Steve snoozed for half an hour but I just couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep. Oh well...a shower, a change of clothes and we'll be ready to explore Amsterdam. We only have today and tomorrow, so we must maximize our time here!
After disembarking from the plane, we bid farewell to our fellow African Adventure tour group...with the exception of Joe and Betty. They, too, are spending some time in Amsterdam...bonus! We have someone to navigate into the city with! So after getting through Customs and gathering our luggage, we found the kiosk to purchase our train tickets. No longer on a tour Steve and I felt like babes in the woods! Joe and Betty have had some experience in Europe so we followed their lead. We then headed down the escalator to find the right train. Of course, we had to ask folks questions along the way but all were very helpful. At least language wasn't an issue...most people in Amsterdam speak English!
Once we arrived at the Amsterdam Centraal Station, we figured we could likely just walk to our hotels. We had noticed an Ibis Hotel next to the station when we arrived, and since we were staying in an Ibis Hotel, albeit not that location, we thought that we would walk over there and ask directions. So off we trekked in the pre-dawn darkness.
The girl at the reception desk was very helpful...she gave us a map, marking out the directions to the Ibis Amsterdam Centre Stopera Hotel on it. Only about at 20 minute walk...no problem, the walk would do us good! She did the same for Joe and Betty...their hotel was also about a 20 minute walk but in a different direction from us. We both went in our separate directions, agreeing to either meet back here at 1:00 or, if our hotels had internet, we would try contacting each other via email.
As Steve and I were walking, it started raining...sheesh, figures! We had our umbrellas but our luggage was getting wet. Steve spotted a Starbucks on a street corner where we thought we should be turning to cross a canal, so we decided to stop in there, have a coffee and a snack then confirm with the staff our location. The fellows in there were wonderful on this early Sunday morning! Boisterous and happy...they had just put up all of the Christmas decorations and they were certainly getting into the Season! Ummmm...guys...it's only November 6!! LOL!
After our coffee and snack, we continued on and had no problem finding the hotel. While at Starbucks, I had gotten on their WiFi and downloaded the walking directions on Google Maps...and that was the start of what absolutely worked wonderfully while exploring both here and France! I just had to have WiFi to start so I could download the route...and all was good!
We ended up being able to get into our room right away...they didn't have one with a double bed ready yet, but we could take a room with two single beds that were side by side (literally right beside each other...no space between them)...okay, that will work! The hotel rooms are small and "ultra-modern" with a unique fiberglass pod or module bathroom (too bad we didn't get a picture of it!).
We had internet, so after checking out the map as to where Joe and Betty were...I sent an email to them suggesting we meet at 11:30 at a spot that would be about half way for each of us (We picked The Grand Amsterdam). They agreed...so we had showers and got cleaned up and were soon out on the streets of Amsterdam following my trusty Google Map directions.
And so begins a wonderful time in Amsterdam...and many, many pictures!
Joe and Betty were waiting when we arrived...and then we headed out to explore. First of all, we thought we'd find someplace for breakfast. With so many choices....and dodging so many people out walking Amsterdam on this Sunday afternoon... we finally picked one. CAU Restaurant. We had a great breakfast and prompt service...even the very friendly owner kept checking on us. Steve for the first time in a long time was finally enjoying eating again!
Then it was time to continue exploring...
We found our way back to the hotel and had a bit of a nap before dinner. We had planned on going out of the hotel to check out one of the local restaurants but were worn out so decided to just go downstairs to the restaurant. The idea of having a quick dinner, then returning to the room to "veg out" in front of the TV was just too appealing!
So we split a burger...turns out the only thing that was actually split in half was the burger. It came already separated with a full order of fries and salad...and was delicious!