Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Amsterdam & Eindhoven ~ What, Where, Why & How!





A couple of weeks ago I told you about the pitfalls of booking a European City Break using our trip to Amsterdam as an example, catch up HERE if you missed it. This week I wanted to let you know how we got on and if it’s worth your time and money booking the hotels we did in Amsterdam and Eindhoven. 




Getting There:





If you remember our flight was to Eindhoven not Amsterdam so we had to get the bus & train to Amsterdam once we’d arrived. Flight time to Eindhoven from Dublin is 1 hour 45 minutes but it really felt a lot less. I have to add that when we were waiting for our passports to be checked the two immigration lads in Eindhoven airport were hilarious. They were having the chats & laughs with a room full of people as they were checking everyone’s passport.

The bus to the Train Station is right outside the door of the terminal, you can get bus number 400 or 401 costing €3.70pp for the 20 minute journey. Tickets can be bought at the machine outside the airport, from the driver or by using the machine onboard the bus, just be aware that the machine on the bus is exact change only and you can only buy one ticket at a time.

At Eindhoven train station you can purchase your tickets in the machines dotted around the station, you can’t buy a return ticket to Amsterdam so we bought them one way costing €20.50pp. There is a shop located beside the platform so you can stock up on a snack, coffee, wine or beer for on the train as it’s a 1 hour 20 minute journey.

Hotel:


Our View from the 10th Floor - Heart Eyes Emoji - Daily


You might remember I chose Hotel Tropen in Amsterdam for our two night stay and paid €87.75pp for two nights B&B. Our tram left from right outside central station in Amsterdam - Prices below. We opted for €12.50 for 48 hours. Tram 9 brings you to the door of Tropen Hotel (you can see the stop in the picture above); it’s 10 stops and about 20 minutes. 


Tram prices in Amsterdam -
ALWAYS remember to tag off as your card will be disabled if you don't!

It was perfectly located in the green heart of Amsterdam so there were a few beautiful parks and green areas interspersed throughout the district. The ideal photo op is right on the corner, the world famous “i am Amsterdam” sign as you can see above. 
The view from the lads' room on the 10th floor - Museum Tropen & the People's Park 

The hotel itself was bright and airy with historic artifacts on display throughout the lobby. We had two rooms on the 10th floor so we had uninterrupted views of Amsterdam. The breakfast room was bright with huge windows open onto one of the most used parks I've ever seen. There's something very soothing about scarfing pancakes & bacon, while watching Tai Chi classes & avid joggers. 

Make your own infused & herbal tays at breakfast - Fancy!

The bar wasn’t open at the advertised times but they sell beer at reception; €2.50 for a bottle of Heineken. There are loads of bars and restaurants to choose from right on their doorstep, no matter your taste, so we weren’t that put out at all.
Things to Do





Visit a Brewery:



Less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel brings you to Brouwerij 't IJ a craft brewery located beside a windmill. It was too cold while we visited but they have a large beer garden which would be lovely in summer. They have 8 craft beers on tap some of them a whopping 9% proof so just be careful which one you order!

Or Two:

Teaching the Gorgebags to make more than Tay


From out hotel we took the number 3 tram 3 stops to the Heineken Brewery. Here I’ll tell you one of my top tips, take time to look in your hotel lobby for discount vouchers or mini cards for local attractions as they really do save you money. We took one for the Heineken Experience and saved €1 each on admission. I know it doesn’t sound much but €4 is €4 at the end of the day! 



We paid €17pp, this included two drinks. While it is a self guided tour you can hire an audio guide but save yourself some money & download the app for free, all details are in reception at the brewery. We were lucky we went early in the morning but by the time we were leaving at about 1 o’clock the queue was around the block. 

Don't trust this guy - Wort is the WORST!

Save yourself some serious queuing time and €2pp on admission by booking online before you go. Tickets are not timed so you are still free to make your mind up when you’re there as to when you want to go. We enjoyed the tour and getting the chance to pull our own beers and even BE brewed ourselves! If you go make sure you ask to be brought up to the 6th floor for the roof top bar where you can use your token to get another beer or a soft drink.

Go on a Canal Cruise...or not:

The ducks were LOVING IT!


You can’t go to Amsterdam and not do a canal cruise, well OK, you can, especially if it’s raining; there really isn’t any point. Here our mini discount cards came into play again; we received a €5pp discount so only paid €11pp for a cruise with the Lovers Company located at Central station. 

Unfortunately one of the boats broke down so we were left standing in the lashing rain with about 100 other people with no information. Yes we should have just walked away but we weren’t thinking at the time. It was a bit of a waste as we got to hear the great commentary all about the UNESCO World Heritage canal district but see none of it as the windows were fogged up and soaked with rain on the outside.

Things to Eat:



Famous Dutch waffles - they're waffley versatile!

As you travel around Amsterdam you’ll see loads of chip shops these sell mainly just chips with your choice of a long list of sauces. The Dutch really do like their chips or “patat with mayo”. We hopped off the tram at Dam Square to lunch like a local and tried their chips; they were much like ours just without the vinegar. A set menu of chips, sauce & a drink costs €4.50.





If you fancy a steak then Gauchos is the restaurant chain for you, they are dotted all over Amsterdam. We were starved when we go off the tram at Rembrandtplein so we didn’t have to walk far to find a Gauchos. The food was good, service was great and the prices are the same as Dublin.




If you’ve never had the experience of dining in the dark then a trip to Ctaste is a must. We had gone a few years ago for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed it so this time we opted for Sunday Brunch so we could bring Sue’s two lads for the experience. Don’t worry there are no blindfolds, your party is formed up outside a double set of curtains and you all hold the shoulder of the person in front. You are then led into the restaurant by your waiter who will sit you at your table and take your drink order. It’s very strange and I was completely outside my comfort zone as it’s PITCH BLACK. 

Presentation on Point at CTaste!

There are some awkward moments when everyone at your table is quiet and then when everyone tries to talk at the same time. But you soon get over that and with surprising ease the conversation will start to flow. We had an (excuse the pun) eye opening time, especially with Sue’s 18 year old son. She has an amazing relationship with both of her lads that I only hope to mimic with my children; there are no taboo topics in her house. 

At brunch Adam spoke so candidly and asked for advice on a whole range of subjects, it must have been that the darkness just made it easier to speak freely in front of me. The food was fresh and tasty, just to let you know, while you don’t know what’s on the menu before you dine as that’s half the fun you do have the option to request certain foods are left off of your plate, for example, I asked for no fish. Our brunch lasted just over 2 hours and cost €25pp.
Eindhoven

Getting There:

One of the MANY modes of transport that afternoon

This is still a bit of a sore subject for me, you see while we had hoped to get to Eindhoven on Sunday afternoon with plenty of time to wander around and get a feel for the place, fate had a different plan. Due to railway works we ended up taking a detour from our train via bus to another train station that ended up adding over 3 hours (!) to our journey. To be fair, the Dutch country side is beautiful and we were herded (yes herded) with little or no fuss but 3 hours, lads?

Hotel:



As we were only staying one night I chose the Queen Hotel in Eindhoven, it’s located over a restaurant on one of the main squares. While I wouldn’t normally opt for a hotel above a busy restaurant with late night bar, I went ahead with this for a number of reasons; we were staying on a Sunday night off season; we were right in the middle of things, we were only staying one night and it was a short stroll from the train station to the hotel. We paid €28pp room only. 

The rooms were lovely; the lads had a room to the front of the hotel overlooking the square while we shared a room to the rear. By the time we got to Eindhoven all the shops were closed but we had a look round and we were probably lucky as I would have bought one or six things. There seemed to be a definite continental feel to the city - as in mostly pedestrianised with many, MANY shops, bars & restaurants. All good things. 

The famous Queen Burgers & Schnitzel for Sue!

We dined at the hotel restaurant out on the heated patio area with blankets over our knees. They had a great set menu of 3 courses for €20pp washed down with a few local Bavaria beers. The silver lining to missing out on the day shopping is simply that we have to go back again as we missed out on the full experience of Eindhoven!

Tell us, have you been to Amsterdam or Eindhoven? What did we miss? Because we'll certainly be paying return visits to both!

If you were following along on Snapchat, we'd love to hear what you thought! 

What did you enjoy, what not so much & what would you like to see more of when we're travelling - you see we've several trips already planned this year & have every intention of bringing you all along!



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