THE DUTCH CAPITAL IS A POPULAR STARTING POINT FOR EUROPEAN RIVER CRUISES:
Amsterdam to Budapest River Cruise – Avalon Waterways – Day 1
A twenty minute taxi ride from Schiphol Airport and we were at the NH Amsterdam Center Hotel where all cruise passengers were to meet. There are actually three NH hotels in central Amsterdam so luckily, we had the full name of the one that we had to be at. Two rooms were reserved for passengers to freshen up, but apart from that facility we were all gathered in a rather crowded conference room.
We arrived in Amsterdam early in the morning, and as the NH Amsterdam Center Hotel was quite central, just across from the lively Leidseplein Square with its many cafés and restaurants, we wandered off to explore and to get something to eat. We found this small café that had a great range of bagels – what a find – and with a nice cup of coffee, that made us human again after our thirty hours journey from Sydney. If you fancy a posh breakfast or afternoon tea, the Café Americain, with its resplendent dining rooms, is just opposite.
After lunch we met our cruise director, Hendrik Jan, at the Welcome Cocktail Reception. Hendrik gave a brief introductory address and then to fill our time for the rest of the afternoon we had the choice of doing an optional trip to Zaanse Schans to visit this museum Dutch village with its famous windmills. At the end of the visit we would be taken straight to our river boat at 5 pm. The other option was to stay in town until it was time to transfer to the MS Poetry at 4 pm.
Tony stayed in town as his mum was arriving in the afternoon and he was to pick her up from the airport, so I was charged with going to Zaanse Schans to take photos of the place. Yes this model village is a rather touristy place but worth a visit as it gives visitors an insight into the traditional Dutch way of life in the past. We saw demonstrations of making cheese, clog-making and most interesting of all was the opportunity to climb to the top of a windmill. Windmills are usually seen from a distance and I never realized that sails make such a loud noise when it spins round. Zaanse Schans is a pleasant place to spend a few hours as you can see from our Zaanse Schans album.
The MS Poetry was moored near the city centre and the check-in process was efficient. When were escorted to our stateroom, we were pleased that it looked very comfortable for a 15-day cruise. At dinner we got to meet a cross-section of our fellow travellers and observed the excitement and interaction amongst the 150 passengers whom we would be travelling with for the next couple of weeks. This was our first Avalon European river cruise so we were quite excited as well.
Dinner was very nice, so that was reassuring. After dinner there was piano music in the lounge, or you could head back into town to check out Amsterdam’s fascinating nightlife. After our long journey from Sydney, we were happy to remain on board.
Photos of Amsterdam: Amsterdam Photo Gallery
Photos of Zaans Schans: Zaanse Schans Photo Gallery
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