Amsterdam

Hello Everybody.

Here are my tips on what to see, where to eat and what tour is worth to take in Amsterdam. I’m including pictures of everything and a map of the city.  All the addresses are hyperlinked and you can easily found all the information.

I booked my Eurotrip kinda last minute, a month before going, and found a great package (flight and hotel) deal on tripmasters.com. That website has the best packages, at an unbeatable price and you can easily customize them. I stayed at the Hotel Nicolaas Witsen in the museum area. That small hotel was in the perfect location close to the museums, the tram, and the market. The service was also excellent.

Things to know:

  • You can walk everywhere or take the tram. The tram works until 1am.
  • Just drink Heineken or Amstel
  • The currency is Euros.
  • You might think I’m including a lot of stuff in a day, but everything is next to each other and going from point A to point B takes no more than 5 minutes.

3 days in Amsterdam:

Day 1:

Start with the museum area. It is also a great area to stay. Very lively and safe at night.

Rijksmuseum is  Holland’s National Museum. The entrance fee is  17.50 euros. The famous Van Gogh Museum is right next to it and the entrance is 17 euros. Get your tickets online to skip the crazy line.

If you are planning to go to the museums, stay an extra day.

Stop by the “I am Amsterdam sign” in the middle of the museums. It is a very crowded attraction. The best time to be able to found a picture with nobody but you on it is early morning. The sign is also in the front of the airport.

Take a break at the café right next to the sign, the Cobra café, perfect place to enjoy the sun and the traditional Beef croquet, fries and Heineken.

From there you can walk to Vondel Park. Rent a bike to enjoy the park and the lake.

At night, go to the Leidseplein lively neighborhood right across Vondel Park. The Square is surrounded by a bunch of cafes including Bulldog Coffeeshop, the most famous smoke café.

Day2:

Go to the Albert Cuyp Market situated by the Heineken Experience. It is the perfect place to get all of your souvenirs. The market is open every day but Sundays. Try the Stroopwafels, the waffle with caramel inside.

Then head to the Heineken Experience tour. Whether you are or not a beer fan, this is a very interesting tour and tasting experience.

Continue with a canal boat cruise. The tour starts right in from of the Heineken ExperienceDuring the cruise, you will pass by Magere Brug – The “Skinny Bridge”, the Jordaan Neighborhood or Muziektheater, the city’s opera and dance venue.

From there, take the tram to the flower market, Bloemenmarkt.  All of those flowers, those colors; you will fall in love with this place. You can walk to the Begijnhof, a former religious cloister for women. The Begijnhof, founded in the 14th century, is now a residence for elderly women

Finish the day by taking the tram to the Anne Frank House. If you didn’t reserve any ticket online,  going there the later is better. The line is less after 6pm and the house is open until 10pm. Don’t forget to check Westerkerk square, a bronze statue of Anne Frank graces the square outside the 17th-century Protestant church where Rembrandt was laid to rest.

At night, head to the Red Light District. Start your walk at condomerie het vvlden vlies. You can then head to the Oude Kirk, the old church. The walk through the Red District is very quick unless you have some business there. Head towards the Dam square to see the square, the Royal Palaceand the New Church.

You have to end the night at the in de Wildeman by the Dam Square. It is one of the must go bar in the world per CNTraveler.

Day3:

In the morning take the windmills tour. The Viator tour is the best one. Take the half a day tour including the Zaanse Schans windmills, you will specifically visit the oil mill, Marken Clog Maker and you will end by taking the boat to Volendam Cheese Factory. Make sure you are on time because they leave EXACTLY on time. If you get there early, go get fries with mayo from Vlaamse Frites, you won’t regret it.

Finish the afternoon by going to the Rembrandt Museum and admire some of the world’s finest art painting. At night stay in the area at Rembrandt Place. That square has all the best restaurants and clubs in town. What a great place to finish the trip.

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Budapest

Hello Everybody.

Budapest was elected number 2 best cities to visit in 2015 by CNTraveler and with my guide you will see why. Here are my tips about what to see, where to eat and what tour is worth to take in Budapest. I’m including pictures of everything and a map of the city.  All the addresses are hyperlink so you can easily found all the information.

I booked my Eurotrip kinda last minute, a month before going and found a great package (flight and hotel) deal on tripmasters.com. That website has the best packages, at unbeatable price and you can easily customize them.

Things to know:

  • The best place to stay is on the Pest side which is the modern side of the town, anywhere close to the Danube River. If you end up staying farther, no worries, the transportation system is excellent and very easy to use. You can just take the bus and get to the Danube River in 5 min
  • Just drink beer or their Vodka
  • You are not a dessert person…Well you will be there. They know what a Café is.
  • The currency is Florin but most places accept Euros.

3 days in Budapest:

Day 1:

If you love those city tours you catch one on Vorosmarty Square, however I think you can pass.Just in case, see information for a free city tour .You can do that free walking tout by yourself.

Start by the Danube Promenade by the little princess statue. You will have a great view of the Buda Castle and the Danube. Then walk towards the Vorosmarty Square and the Lion Fountain. That Square is at the end of the Parisian Arcade. Built in the early 20th Century, the Parisian Arcade was once an ornate and lavish shopping center and it hasn’t change; you can found all the stores there. It’s a great meeting point for shopping or to grab coffee. Indeed, on that square you will found the famous Gerbeau Café. That café is a must go to grab coffee or to have dinner. What a beautiful and romantic setting that place is. Next to it, there is a pastry place called Cafe Dorortya; try one of their hungarian pastries Malnas Turotorta or Dobos Torta.

From there, walk towards St Stephen’s Basilica. No need to climb stairs, you can just get elevator tickets and go by the bells to have a 360 view of the city. From the top, you can see the small street that will take you to Chain Bridge.

Before getting to the bridge, go towards the Hungarian Parliament Building (Az Országház). If you want to go inside, you need to book a tour 1 day ahead. The outside of it is breathtaking. You will have a chance to see it again from the Chain Bridge and the Castle. On the way back towards the Chain Bridge, you will pass by those Shoes on the Danube. It is a memorial.

Take the Bridge now. Szechenyi Chain Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Europe, and the first permanent bridge to connect the Buda and Pest.

Cross the Bridge. Welcome to Buda.

Take the Funicular and found yourself in the Castle District Area. Visit the Royal Palace (Budavári Palota), the Matthias Church (Mátyás-templom) and the Fisherman Bastion (Halászbástya). You need tickets for the Church and the Fisherman Bastion. You have to go inside of the Church, all the walls are covered by decorations. For the Bastion, it is not worth getting tickets. A  part of Bastion has to be accessed with a ticket but the other part does not required a ticket. Go there and look at the most spectacular views of the Danube and city.

In the alleys from the Palace to the Church, you will see the sign for the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth of Buda Castle is situated in a complex of caves and cellars underneath the Buda Castle district. The Labyrinth of Buda Castle has four circled mini-labyrinths: a Labyrinth exhibition, a project room, a cafe and a restaurant.

Once done, you can walk down to the city. There is nothing to do on the Buda side which is the old part of the town. Come back to the Pest side.If you feel like Italian restaurant, go to Trattoria Pomo D’oro by St Stephen’s Basilica. For Drinks, you can go to Aria Hotel Budapest that has a great view rooftop. The other great bar/club is Otkert.

Day 2:

Start you day at the Gellert Hill. The Walk to the top, start with the visit of a Church inside of the Mountain. Then continue for 20 minutes and you will get to the Liberty Statue (Szabadság Szobor). Sitting atop Budapest’s Gellért Hill, it is a soaring symbol of the city. The Citadel that was once behind there is not anymore.

Take a break and go to one of the  bath and spa Budapest is famous for.  The 2 most famous ones are The Széchenyi Bath & Spa and the Gellért Fürdő (Gellért Spa & Bath). But I want to suggest you to go to Rudas that was just renovated. It has a covered pool but you can go on the roof and have a great view of Gellert hill.You can rent everything there from towel, to shower cap. They offer message services. Just know they don’t accept euros but only Florin and credit cards.

Early evening, enjoy a cruise along the Danube and discover why they call Budapest the city of light. The evening sightseeing cruise that starts at 8:15pm is combined with a sound and vision show. The boat departs from the center of Budapest and makes an hour round trip in the city.

For the Bar scene, head to Szimpla, the most famous and must go ruin bar in Budapest. Situated on Kazinczy Street, that street is full of bars and clubs back to back. Be ready for a bar hopping night.

Day 3:

Start your day at the Great Market. You can buy all of your souvenirs on the 1st floor and have traditional food for lunch. Have a Langos, which is fried bread with cream cheese and anything else you want on it.

From there walk to the National Museum and the Great Synagogue (The Dohány Synagogue). Then you can walk or take a metro to the Terror Háza (House of Terror). The building is a museum functioning as a memorial to the victims of both Fascism and Communism.Take the metro to Hősök Tere (Heroes Square), located at the end of Budapest’s main shopping street, Andrássy Avenue (Pest’s greatest boulevard). Heroes Square is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then walk to the Vajdahunyad vára (Vajdahunyad Castle). During the summer and fall, residents and tourists can boat leisurely on the lake, while in winter it becomes an ice skating ring. The Castle is open from 10 am to 5pm and it’s free.

At night, get tickets for the Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház). That opera is beautiful.