Monday, June 18, 2012

Europe 2012: Amsterdam

Our second trip to Europe was a bit more ambitious than the first.  It involved traveling by plane, train, bus, boat and taxi - not to mention walking everywhere.  In order to get to our first destination, Florence, we had a very long day of travel.  First we flew from Texas to Amsterdam and spent 6 hours there before hoping a flight to Rome.  Once in Rome we took one train to the central train station (Roma Termini), waited around for an hour, then caught the train to Florence.  We left Texas on a Wednesday afternoon at 3pm local time and arrived to our flat in Florence Thursday at 9pm local time.

Excited to be on our way (and thankful for window seats)!

When we were planning the trip we took note of the six hour layover in Amsterdam but didn't think much of it.  As our departure got closer (they day before we left, in fact) I started considering what we were going to do with all that time.  I researched the Schipol airport and found it had a lot to keep us busy, including a small museum and casino in addition to the usual shopping, eating and drinking options.  However, a train to the center of Amsterdam only took 15-20 minutes and cost just over 10 euros round trip.  We decided on the plane that we would store our carry on bags in airport lockers and venture out into the city.  

After almost 10 hours in a metal tube, we landed at 7am local time, stashed our bags and headed out.  Since we had packed for Mediterranean weather we were unprepared for the chilly Amsterdam morning.  Luckily I had a sweater and pashmina I brought to keep me warm on the plane and Corey is pretty immune to cold weather.  We found caffeine at a Starbucks then grabbed train tickets and rode into the city.

We had no map and no idea what to do given our lack of planning and the early hour.  That was okay with us, wandering around is half the fun of traveling to new places!  After meandering through narrow brick and cobblestone streets, we stumbled across a beautiful church.  Unfortunately it was closed but we snagged a few shots of the outside before continuing on.  

We also walked along the canals, imagining what it would be like to live in one of the many houseboats, passed by many "coffee shops" prominently advertising their various offerings of marijuana, and ate breakfast of pastries and fresh-squeezed orange juice in a teeny cafe.

Centraal Train Station

Walked out and tired we took the train back to the airport and relaxed for an hour or so until it was time to board our flight to Rome.  Once in Rome we caught the train to the city center and finally our train to Florence.  Stay tuned...