On 22 November I was sent on my first real business trip (I do not count the Czech Republic and Slovakia :-)). In particular, to the Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam.
Departure from Prague
The departure was at 12:55 from Prague. So I booked a taxi in advance, which will take me from our Prague office to the airport. I use in Prague only with Tick Tack taxi because I know they are fair. From Michle to Václav Havel Airport, the trip cost 858 CZK. Another advantage is that you can pay directly with your credit card and they even take American Express cards, which is a great advantage for me. All corporate expenses should preferably be paid by the AMEX (American Express) company card.
Through the Internet, I have already checked in, so I already had a boarding card with an assigned seat number for the flight back and forth. At the airport, theoretically, it would be enough just to go straight to my gate and wait for it to open.
Because I did not have much to do, I only planned the luggage. The attendant, however, noticed that the baggage would probably have a size problem, so they would not take it to the plane. So they suggested me to try the size of the bag in their test box. And indeed, because of the wheels / the upper hand, the bag did not fit. Fortunately, the man was so good, and he forgave me for a baggage check-up fee. I went on board only with a hand bag with papers and a wallet.
Before departure, verify that your hand baggage really meets the parameters of hand luggage to avoid unexpected problems and additional charges.
At this point, I had plenty of time, so I just went through the airport back and forth. But I remembered that I forgot to pack a toothbrush (I had a paste). So I tried to find a toothbrush at the airport outlets to sell. All I found was one electric brush for about $650. Fortunately, it was not such a problem as it turned out, see below 🙂
Arrival to Amsterdam
The flight was very short. As soon as we reached normal flight heights, the captain reported that we were getting down on landing. The flight lasted about 1:20.
After landing I went to pick up my checked suitcase. To my surprise at the time I reached the check-in belt, the suitcase was already available, so everything went so fast here and I did not have to wait and could go straight.
My stay was booked in Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport, which is near the airport. Moreover, I knew the hotel have its own shuttle service from the airport to the hotel and back, so I just had to find where I had to wait. After a while, the minibus arrived and took me to the hotel in 10 minutes.
Hotel Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport is a really nice hotel with very good guest reviews, which is why I chose it. It offers really complete service and the services are at the top level overall. The hotel has a total of 330 rooms and 13 floors, while on the ground floor there is a reception, a bar and a restaurant (where breakfast is always included). The first floor is reserved for conference rooms and a gym, which is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Upon arrival, I logged in to the reception desk, where they wanted a credit card (again accepted AMEX) and a passport. They then handed me a card from the room including internet access (WiFi and LAN connection in the room). I had room number 707, which was on the 7th floor.
I went to the restaurant for a light dinner in the form of a sandwich (for 4.50 € :-)). I just asked at the reception where the nearest shop was where I could buy a toothbrush. The lady told me that I did not have to deal with such things that they were ready for me and gave me a new toothbrush and a toothpaste 🙂 Then I noticed that it was written directly in the information for the stay that the hotel offers its guests basic things (soaps, shower gels, shampoos, creams, toothbrushes, pastes and other things), other things you can borrow (typically electric items such as hairdryers, shavers, hair irons, etc.) or buy directly at the reception – officially called Odds & Ends menu of must-have item to buy, borrow or enjoy for free. That really suits me 🙂
From Wednesday to Friday, I did my job, so I did not have time to explore Amsterdam. But the advantage was that I stayed there over the weekend so I could go to the city at weekends. So I bought a 3-day ticket for 25 €, which allowed me to travel by train anywhere in the city + to the airport and by bus, metro, tram or ferry + airport express by Niteliner and Connexxion.
On Saturday I went by hotel shuttle to the airport, where are many different connections to all corners of the city. I decided to take a train to Amsterdam Zuid, where I wanted to travel somewhat on foot or by bus / tram to the center. Here, however, the first complications occurred. I’ve found that walking on foot is not entirely appropriate, because it’s very far in the center. Moreover, there was no direct connection to the center, so I did not know how best to get to the center.
So I decided to go by subway, which had a stop near the train and went straight to the center. So I went back to the metro / train station. The metro was there, and after 15 minutes it did not move. Then the metro driver came and told all the passengers that they should get off because the metro would not go on.
I wondered what to do next. The subway was out of order, the tram had no direct connection to the center and I did not dare to search for any follow-up links. All I could do was just take the train back to the airport and then another train to the center, specifically to the Amsterdam Centraal station. I lost almost two hours by traveling, but what could I do 🙂
From the station I walked down Damrak Street. Immediately after a few meters, the first surprise was the sex museum (Amsterdam Sexmuseum). Well, I did not go inside, 5 € is not worth for probably complete nonsense, but there were a lot of people people in a queue, so it’s probably popular 🙂 However, on the way back I had fun talking about it with the hotel transport driver and he told me, that he was there and that it really is not worth the 5 €.
So I went on and walked through another museum with a strange theme – Vodka Museum Amsterdam. However, I went to what I was aiming for – Madame Tussauds, a well-known wax museum. However, I did not go in because I was there a few years ago with a school during an exchange stay. I just wanted to see if the museum is still there.
Then I crossed one of the many city canals and went back to the station. But I went through a path that led through the famous Red Light District, a red-light district where you pass one night club next to the other, in which the half-naked ladies walk behind windows and try to lure the visitors. In addition, there are also of course many sex shops and other similar businesses.
Next, I went to Nieuwmarkt square, which is besides cheese markets and the 15th century Waag, which was originally a city gate.
Opera byla mým posledním cílem. Vydal jsem se tedy zpět směrem k nádraží a po cestě se zastavil u baziliky svatého Mikuláše a vlakem jel zpátky na letiště.
Opera was my last goal. I headed back to the station and stopped on the St. Nicholas Basilica and went back to airport.
I planned to go by train to Amsterdam Zuid (yes, I was there the previous day :-)) to check out Google’s offices next to the train station. Then, Beatrixpark, Vondelpark, Van Gogh Museum, I Amsterdam sign and last check out the Apple Store in Amsterdam, which was next door.
So I headed by airport shuttle to the airport, where I got on the train to Amsterdam Zuid. At Amsterdam Zuid Station, I headed to the Google’s offices. However, there was nothing interesting about it because the building in which the office does not have even Google logo. As if there was no Google at all.
So I went across the station back and continued on to Beatrix Park, a park built in 1936-1938 named after Queen Beatrix. The park at first glance looks like surrounded by colleges, but it probably will not be true 🙂 Immediately when I entered the park I met a hidden bunny.
I was also heading to Vondelpark, a public park named after poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel. This park is really big and beautiful. There is plenty of greenery and water. And it is widely visited by athletes of all kinds. There are many runners, but also footballers and other athletes of all kinds (yoga, strengthening, etc.). Basically, there are some sporting people at every corner.
From Vondelpark I went to the Rijksmuseum, a Dutch National Museum of Art, Crafts and History. I did not go to the museum, but there is also the I Amsterdam symbol. But on the way, I met two other attractions. The first was a showroom of Tesla, which attracted me because Tesla is not officially available in the Czech Republic and it is a car that I would like to have some time. And the other was a street full of shops with extremely expensive brands such as Guess, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Armani, etc., before which they parked super-luxury cars like Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Audi R8, Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG etc. At the end of this street was the Tesla showroom 🙂
The Van Gogh Museum is also close to the Rijksmuseum, including the Museumplein Square and Park. I did not go to the Van Gogh Museum (museums do not take me :-)), but I went through the park to the concert hall Royal Concertgebouw. This concert hall, thanks to its acoustics, is considered one of the best concert halls in the world along with the halls in Boston and Vienna. The square and the adjacent grassy area of the Museumplein also serve for many different athletes. By the time I was walking, there were several groups of people playing football (soccer). At the beginning of the grassy area in front of the Rijksmuseum, there was an artificial ice skating area.
As the last point of my trip to Amsterdam, I had a local Apple Store. Although I’m not an Apple fan, I’ve never been in the Apple Store, I wanted to look at it. When I reached it, I discovered a crowd of people waiting in front of it (probably because of the Black Friday discounts). However, I did not join the bunch and continued on.
Now I’ve already had everything to go, so I headed back to the airport, from where I headed back to the hotel. However, because I did not want to go the same way, I decided to take a bus (Airport Express) instead of a train. Which was a good choice, because I met other places such as Olympic Stadium.
Return to Prague
The way back was fine. I went straight to the airport, I arrived less than two hours before the plane’s departure.
Because I had my boarding card again picked up from the Internet and printed and had no baggage for check-in (just hand baggage), I could go straight to the security check and wait in front of the gate. I did not know which terminal is for me. So I asked the information where they sent me to the other side of the airport that I should go to terminal 3 and it would be part B or C. So I went through the whole airport and walked to parts B and C where I wanted to go through the turnstile. But it did not want to let me in. So I asked the attendant if she could help me, but when he looked at my boarding card, he said I had to go to the other side of the airport to Terminal 1. But I was there a while ago, and they sent me here. The man was still verifying and saying that I really need to go to Part M of Terminal 1. So I went back and looked for part M, where everything went well.
The flight was even shorter than to Amsterdam, we flew approximately 1:05. We flew in the dark, so I could watch the night Amsterdam from a height that is really beautiful. It was much nicer than Prague. I would compare it with night Toronto, which is also very nice.
Interesting from Amsterdam
When you go to the center of Amsterdam, you smell of marijuana everywhere. Amsterdam is known for its coffee shops with freely available marijuana.
Trains in Amsterdam are weird. When I was waiting for a train from the airport towards the city center (Amsterdam Centraal), the platforms 1 and 2 had a train in that direction. After some time of waiting, when the train had arrived, they told us that people going to Amsterdam Centraal (the final stop) should stay on platform 1 and people going to the previous stops should move to platform 2.
In the Netherlands there is a lot of bikers everywhere. Indeed, a lot of people ride a bike to work or school. Usually, crossing the road is not a problem, but crossing the cycle path is a problem because there really is one cyclist after another. This is also related to the fact that schools and various buildings have really huge car parks full of parked bicycles.
Besides cyclists, small motorbikes (scooters) can also ride along bicycle trails. And besides, the drivers of these scooters may not even have helmets, so you can meet the screaming scuffers without a helmet with a marijuana clutch in their mouth (as a fact :-)).
When using public transport (including trains), you have to buy a ticket that always has a chip. And before each boarding, you have to “beep” on a station before you enter a platfrom. This is what people from Prague know, and at metro it works just with ordinary tickets. The difference, however, is that when you get out, you have to “beep” your ticket again. Including when you just switch from one transport to another. I do not know why this is so, maybe someone in the comments below the article will explain 🙂
At least Amsterdam has huge support for electric or at least hybrid drive. For example, business men and businesses do not have to pay any road tax on these cars. So, for example, the overwhelming majority of the taxi in front of the airport are the pure electric cars of the Tesla Model S, which are standing there and passing through the columns. And overall there is a huge number of other electric or at least hybrid cars including, for example, buses.
You may come to a shop where they will not accept credit cards issued in another country. It happened to me in local Albert, for example, where I wanted to pay by a card. The first attempt did not work out and the payment did not take place. So the service asked me if it’s a credit card, so I said yes. They told me that credit cards are not accepted and that I have to use debit cards. So I pulled out my second card, which is debit, but it did not work either. The cashier then said they are taking cards issued only by local banks or cash. So I had to choose cash but I found that the ATM only gave me a multiplier of 20 € and I needed 21 €, so I had to choose 40 € because it was only 20 or 40 and 20 would not be enough .