We began our Amsterdam planning like you would expect- with an offer to watch the children! Amsterdam seemed like the perfect place to spend a night! I had train tickets that were good for anywhere in The Netherlands. Every now and again tickets in The Netherlands go on sale.
My husband had been to Turkey previously and wanted a Hamam (Turkish bath), but the tellak (bather) was out while he was there, so I planned to stay at a spa and booked hamam baths for the two of us. I chose Spa Zuiver because it was close to the train station and had a bus that was right out front that would take you to the city center. The spa offered a package that allowed a hamam treatment along with access to the spa itself, robe and slippers, and a smoothie at their Body and Mind restaurant. The package at this time was about 300 euros. The treatments were the bulk of the price running about 80 euros each. You could choose to opt out of the treatment and that would save you a ton of money.
With the trip booked, we needed to know when the train would be running from Sittard (our closest NL city) and to Amsterdam. The NL Bahn site offered up to date information in order to plan the trip. Just input information about when you would like to leave and when you would like to get there; the site generates train departure and change times.
Now off to Amsterdam! We packed lightly because we were taking the train. This is a European must! Do not be the silly American trying to navigate big bulky luggage on the train and through cobblestone walkways.
We showed up to the train station and located the little yellow stamp box that we had to use to stamp our prepaid train tickets. This validates them for use. Then we went to find our train only to discover that the train was under repair and we would have to take a bus to the train change instead of the actual train. Oh well! Live and learn. The trip was smooth and not too busy. We arrived in Amsterdam with plenty of time to spare. A taxi took us around the block to the hotel and was about 12 euros. Taxi fare includes taxes and a standard 15% service charge. To be absolutely sure look for the words inclusief BTW en service. So no worries about tipping unless you wish to.
The hotel was having a tennis match, lucky us, so the lobby was packed with spectators and players. We checked in and had our bag held and went to the spa to change. The staff provided us with bracelets to use in lieu of money, so anything we needed would be placed on the bracelet and compensated at the end of the stay. The changing rooms were co-ed. The bracelets opened our lockers (free) and we nervously changed into our robes. Although I had read up on the spa vigorously beforehand, I was still nervous about the European spa experience in the nude. Clothing is not optional, it is prohibited. Nevertheless, we wore our robes when we were waiting for the tellak to call us in. The hamam was wonderful! It is a very awesome experience, for more information check out the website in the link below. There is even a video. The spa was an experience. The best part was the wading pool that was inside and outside. The water was non-chlorine, so instead it is treated with a salt-like substance. Very relaxing!
After the spa we changed and got ready for the nightlife. We spoke with the staff at the bar downstairs for a good hour and found out some really great places to visit and the do’s and don’ts of the city central. Do visit the red-light district and sex museum (it’s on your things-I-never-really-wanted-to-do-but-must-do-now-that-I-live-here bucket list). Don’t even stop to acknowledge the drug peddlers on the street. Do follow the locals to find the best hot spots. Don’t bother going to any of the main bars on the strip. Do go into the ally’s and crevices to find the best deals on drinks and or food. Don’t take a taxi to the city. Do take the inexpensive bus there, taxi back. Do wear comfortable shoes. Don’t wear heels on the cobblestones, you will break your ankle. Do plan to party late. The Dutch usually don’t even go out until 1 or 2 and party until the sun comes up.
We took the bus downtown and saw as much as we could before becoming too tired to do anymore. We met a lot of really great people. Mostly locals because they were more than willing to talk and even to show us around. We saw the red-light district. (Don’t even think about taking their pictures.) We saw the beautiful swans in the dirty canals, the coffee houses, and most everything in that area. For more information on how to plan your trip and cater to your interests check out this link. We took a taxi back to the hotel and crashed. In the morning we woke up and enjoyed their free buffet breakfast and checked out of the hotel. The train ride back lulled me back to sleep and before we knew it we were home and back in the arms of our babies. It’s nice to get away for the weekend, but even nicer to be home!