May 15th, 2012
We flew from London to Amsterdam on a one and a half hour flight, which was quite rough. The weather in Amsterdam in early May is cool and a bit rainy. The high’s were ten to sixteen degrees Celsius.
My first impression of Amsterdam was that it a pretty city and a totally different atmosphere than London, (Quite a different feel from London which had a classier, more reserved feel). It’s a young crowd, vibrant, busy and anything goes. At 2 AM, this city was just getting started!
The train is about 4 Euros from the Schipol airport to the central station. Our hotel, the NH Grand Krasnapolski was about a five minute walk from the train station.
This hotel is rated at a four star property. The location is excellent, as was the included breakfast, but it is an old hotel and in need of renovation. Some of the rooms have been renovated but ours was not one of them. It was big and clean but very dated. They also charged $17EUR/day for WIFI!!
We did a mini city tour as part of the conference, which included such fun as a canal cruise, a walk through the red light district, chocolate tasting and a beer at a local brewery. We also booked a wine and cheese candlelight canal cruise through Viator, available on our uniglobevacation.com website. It was two hours long, the guide was awesome and very Dutch, plus it included Dutch cheeses, two bottles of wine and a night walk through the red light district. For 20 dollars it was a good value.
I found Amsterdam to very expensive; more expensive than London. Coffees and pastries would be 20 Euros and the average lunch cost for two would be at least 50 Euros if you had a drink with lunch.
Amsterdam is a great walking city with most museums and tourist attraction being within walking distance if the city center. It’s known for its cheeses, chocolate, deft blue China and orange soccer gear….and let’s not forget the wooden shoes and tulips!
I really enjoyed my time in Amsterdam and it’s definitely for those who are young, young at heart and who don’t mind lots of walking.
May 10th, 2012
Well, we have just completed our three day stay in London and loved every minute of It! OK maybe not the sore feet and tired legs, but everything else, for sure! In a nutshell, here is my official top 10 list for London and the reasons why:
1) Westminster Abbey
For 19 pounds you can enter the Abbey and have a self guided audio tour. Far and away, the most magnificent building I have ever been in and it’s incredibly to think it was built and some of those tombs were placed there almost 1000 years ago….plus let’s not forget the recent Royal Wedding of William and Kate, which adds to the star appeal for some of us!
2) Tower of London
We bought our tickets for 18 pounds each through the Hop-on Hop-off London Tour company. This saved us a few pounds and meant we didn’t have to wait in the ticket lineup. We were there for about three hours but could have easily spent a few days exploring the gory history of prisoners, torture and kingdoms being overthrown. The best part for me was the crown jewels, which are also held there. The 52 carat diamond in the scepter was amazing!
3) Imperial War Museum
The entry was free, but the accept donations. This was definitely the best war Museum that I have been to; great, detailed displays with the history of each item. I particularly liked the interactive displays, such as the Holocaust memorial, the Blitz display and the display showing what life in the trenches was like. We could have easily spent a full day here.
4) British Museum
This also had free entry, but the recommend a five pound donation. We only had two hours here before the closed and we hardly touched on it. The have over 6 million items on display and many that we saw were dated back to 600 BCA to 200 AD. Amazing items and history, but it would take you a month to get through everything properly. Go when you have lots of time!
At the British Museum
5) Royal family
We were lucky enough to have our hop on tour guide tell us that the queen was opening parliament the following day at 11am. We walked down and witnessed all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with that and it was the highlight of the trip for me. Next time, I would research if there are going to be any events going on while we are here in hopes of seeing some of that again. It doesn’t get much more British than seeing the Queen!
Queen’s Speech procession
6) Buckingham Palace
The palace itself is a site worth seeing as well the changing of the guard which takes place around 11 AM most days.
We went to at least one or two different pubs each day. The food was always good, at a reasonable price and they had great atmosphere. There are at least two to three pubs on each block so it’s easy to try a new one each time.
8) Hop on Hop off tour
This is a great way to orient yourself to the city and to see the places that might not be walking distance from your hotel. We did the Big Bus tour and the red line has live commentary which is very entertaining.
9) Covent Garden Market
Grate shopping for all tastes as well as lots of el fresco dining options and live entertainment; a busy, lively, fun area. It is also right near the theatre district the pubs and restaurants can be very busy in the late afternoon and early evening prior to the shows starting.
We could walk to all of these attractions from our hotel and saw so much scenery along the water, such as parliament, big Ben the Thames, the London eye, not to mention the people watching. Taking the time to wall around really gives you a feel for the city……take good Shoes!
Next stop Amsterdam!
May 9th, 2012
Swanky Savoy! Top 10 reasons to stay here:
1) The doorman discreetly asks your name as you pull up so the girl inside can call you by name and have your room key ready
2) They take you to your room for private check in
3) The rooms are gorgeous
4) They have heated towel racks
5) They make the best shortbread and homemade strawberry rhubarb jam Ever!
6) The location can’t be beat -you can walk to almost anything
7) Free wifi, I dislike paying for wifi at expensive hotels when it’s now free at most budget hotels.
8) Where else in London would you go for afternoon tea, if not the Savoy?
9) When they turn down your room, they place the slippers beside the bed, ready for your use
10) Its a once in a lifetime experience and the service can’t be beat!
The Savoy entrance
Stay tuned for my top 10 things to do when you have three days in London!
Delta Premium Economy-Worth It?
We decided to try Delta Airlines Premium Economy seats for our trip to London. The flight from Minneapolis is eight hours and we are both tall people. The premium economy seats are $80 more per person, per direction. The website said you would get more leg room, more seat recline, priority meal service and free spirits, in addition to free wine and beer served in all economy. The only real selling point for us is the extra room. I am currently on board and would say that we easily have double the leg room and 50% more recline than the seats located behind us. Combine that with still having three available meal choices to choose from, and I’m sold! We also chose the middle section that has three seats. We each took an aisle and hoped for the middle to remain free, which it thankfully did, giving us even more room to stretch out. All in all, our Delta flights have been good, on time and with lots of seat-back entertainment options. A good choice for this international flight, although you have to watch as not all their 767 aircraft have been reconfigured with the seat-back entertainment and it would have been a long flight without it!
Next stop – London and The Savoy.