Showing posts with label Amsterdam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amsterdam. Show all posts

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Honeymoon: From Amsterdam to Paris

We had approx 2.5 hours before our scheduled departure to Paris. The initial plan was to travel by budget air to Paris. Even though the flight time is 1 hour, but we will need additional time to clear customs/immigrations, it could add up to a couple of hours. Hence, the next best alternative was to travel by train. With the extra hours we had on hand, we headed to explore the airport.
 The lift to Panorama terrace, which offers a fantastic view of the aeroplanes and aprons. During the winter period (begins the last Sunday in Oct), the terrace is opened from 9am till 5pm. During the summer (begins the last Sunday in Mar), it will open from 7am till 8pm. This is also the location of KLM Cityhopper Fokker 100, which was modified to be a viewing exhibit. We didn't have time to head over there though :(
 It was so windy once the lift doors opened that Leecher had to don on his jacket. Looking much like an Eskimo, lol!
 The lower level was more of a smoking place, so we got into the life once more and headed up to the upper floor.
 Spot the air traffic control tower. Call me biased, but nothing beats our iconic Changi control tower :) It got too cold/windy for us to bear, so we headed down.
 Schiphol station is situated directly below the airport. With our online tickets, we arrived at the platform waiting to board the Thalys train that will take us to Paris :)
Thalys is a joint service offered by 3 railways companies (Belgian, French & Dutch). Henceforth, it was our choice of shuffling b/w Amsterdam & Paris. Even though a one-way trip takes around 3 hours, but you save the hassle of clearing immigration & heading into city. The train stations are located near the cities & well-connected to their underground lines. If you book way in advance, tickets can be relatively cheap. We only managed to book our tickets 2 weeks before actual departure, so we paid a premium for it.
Someone catching up on lost sleep, lol! I was then tasked to stay awake, keeping an eye on our baggages. 
You can always head to their Thalys bar if you are hungry. They offer an extensive menu of hot dishes, sandwiches, desserts, pastries, snacks etc. You can also stay connected on the train with their WiFi onboard, provided you are travelling on a certain class. Alternatively, purchase WiFi credits at the bar to stay connected :)
Time to alight from the train! 
We have arrived in Paris :) Paris Gare Du Nord is one of the 6 large railyway stations. This is also the busiest railway station in Europe, with approx 190m travellers in a year.
The trains stood out in the station due to their striking red body :)
Train stations always have a certain charm around them :) Even though the station wasn't as famous as Grand Central Terminal in New York, it has made its appearance in several movies, like the Bourne trilogy. Wasting no time, we had to navigate our way to the hotel. 
We made our way from the train station to metro line. Navigation was relatively easy, similar to the Tube in London. When planning for the trip, I found that a decent hotel in central Paris is relatively expensive. Since we'll be staying for 1 week, the hefty price tag spent on hotel alarmed me, lol! The auntie side of me screamed "That money could be used to buy another bag", lol! I managed to locate an alternative source of accommodation, but the place wasn't available for 2 days. Hence, we had to stay at a hotel for 2 days before moving over.
We stayed @ Hotel Royal Magda Etoile, a 3 star hotel near Champ Elysees. It was a stone throw away from Charles de Gaulle-Etoile station, which saved us the hassle of dragging our heavy luggages on the street. 

I have booked for double standard room type & they kindly upgraded us to a suite. Even though it was a suite, the space was still very tiny! I'm thankful for the extra sofa/space to put our luggages.

The kind hotel staff even left a tray of surprise on the table for us :) A bottle of champagne, nibbles and a hand-written note. This little gesture does make a difference, doesn't it? 
Royal Magda Etoile Hotel
7 Rue Troyon 
75017 Paris
Tel: +33 1 47 64 10 19

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Honeymoon: First Meal in Amsterdam

An extremely busy Sunday - attending Yen's baby girl shower in the afternoon, came home and packed my bags for my flight later tonight. I'm heading off to London for the annual sales conference :) A long 14 hours journey, but I'm looking forward to having my in-flight meals + entertainment again!
We had a 3-hour wait before our scheduled departure time to Paris. The first thing was to look for a place to sit down for a nice meal :) Even though we had breakfast on board, I was still hungry. Hence, we went walking around the airport in search of food.
 There was a wide variety of options available, ranging from pizzas to sandwiches, etc. We even spotted Delifrance *chuckles* No, I didn't fly all the way to the other end of Earth to try out Delifrance. I was looking for an authentic Dutch cafe to have my 1st dutch meal. Instead, we ended up at Pronto the Ice-cream Bar.
If you have a craving for an Italian ice-cream, then this is the place to go. There is a wide selection of homemade ice cream, but we didn't have any of those.

Well, at least the cashier is quite cute, lol! 
Thankfully, the menu had English translation, which made ordering a breeze.
When in doubt, just point to items on the menu. We weren't sure of the serving size, so we only ordered 1 main & 1 dessert to share.
Hot chocolate to start the day :) This version is quite mild, as compared to those that I tried during the trip. This contained more milk than chocolate, which made me feel less guilty about drinking it.
Cheese, Ham & Eggs sandwich; our healthy breakfast fix.
I just couldn't resist ordering their waffles. This was actually the reason why we chose Pronto, for I spotted a kid eating this! I knew I had to try this, lol! Waffles were crispy and literally coated with dark chocolate sauce, heavenly. 
Let's tuck in!
Pronto Ice Cream Bar
Schiphol Airport, Schiphol Plaza
Opening Hours: 7am till 10pm daily

Friday, July 12, 2013

Honeymoon: Arrival at Schiphol Airport

We finally arrived at Schiphol Airport @ Amsterdam after a long 14 hours journey. I was just glad to get off the plane & begin our honeymoon journey! The start of our 14 days adventure in Europe :) In fact, I was slightly nervous for this is my first time in Amsterdam & was worried about having to navigate our ways. I'm thankful for the wonderful  people that helped us throughout our trip. 
It was almost 6am (local time) when we touched down at the airport. A quick call to mummy dearest to keep her informed of my whereabouts. The weather has actually turned chilly & I conveniently left my jacket in my check-in luggage :(
Leecher was well-prepared, wearing his long-sleeved shirt.
Someone strolled his way through the airport while I had to quicken my steps to keep my body warm.
Even though Schphiol is ranked as Europe's 4th busiest airport, we managed to clear immigration with ease! The airport was pretty easy to navigate too. I was attracted to the stores, but I had to zoom my way to the baggage belts.
Retrieved my jacket, sparing me from the cold weather outside :)
Headed straight to the travel agent counter to purchase the Amsterdam passes for the rest of the journey. Usually, I'll be the one planning our itinerary. This time round, I had to delegate the task to sit-and-do-nothing-Leecher for his contribution towards the trip. He gamely opt for Amsterdam while I planned for Paris.
 Finally, it was his turn at the counter.
Came back grinning like a kid with his "achievements", lol!
The Amsterdam-Holland Pass is ideal for it is an all-in-one city pass saving both money & time. You can choose b/w 2,5 or 7 free and/or reduced entrance tickets to must-see attractions, museums and public transport in Amsterdam & other popular Dutch cities. Based on Leecher's research, he reckoned we should buy the 5 free pass. Each package comes with a guide book & a Holland Pass discount card. The pass can be bought at GWK Travelex offices in the major cities as well as the airport.
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