Hi! I am Dr. Nina Piyush Vaidya and I would like to share my experience of our trip to Netherlands, Austria. Czech and Germany.
I started planning before three and a half month and the day wise itinerary was ready before a month. I did all my reservations through internet and it came to an unbelievable low price with utmost comfort.
We are a family of five adults and we rented a car from Car trawler. Our car was Skoda Octavia Wagon from SIXT with big dickey. Renting a car proved to be like a boon to us. We could explore the most beautiful places on our own. We could do this with utmost comfort and no stress of carrying luggage.
You need to have your national plus international driving licence to drive the car in Europe. If you are a resident of a country where there is right hand drive, do not worry, you will get acquainted within 2-3 hours of driving. Instead of renting a car with navigator which costs you 10Euros/day extra (we were to hire the car for 26 days), we bought our own navigator.
DAY:1 We picked up our keys for our rental apartment and of the car from Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, with all the necessary information. It was 11 am; we entered our apartment address in our navigator and started following the instruction. It was the first day and very first experience of left handed driving so instead of reaching our destination within 30 minutes we took two and a half hours. It was a very good learning experience and there after everything went on smoothly. I speculated this & so I kept half day free for driving orientation. We started our tour from 4pm. We visited the flower market- a unique market with lots and lots of varieties of flowers, flower bulbs, attractive pots and everything related to flowers. You name the colour and that coloured flower was there in that market.
At around 6:30 in the evening we took Canal cruise for 75 minutes (we had e-tickets with us) and experienced true Amsterdam. Then we walked around in the beautiful, electrifying city of Amsterdam till late night.
DAY:2 We took our breakfast at our apartment, I prepared lunch and packed it. We started for Keukenhof Flower fields at about 9:30am and reached there at around 10 am. We were having the online tickets for car parking and the garden so we could enter the garden without standing in a queue (You get concessions if you buy online combo tickets and these tickets are open tickets so there is no compulsion to visit that place on a particular day. Ours was valid till 31st Dec 2014.) We entered from the extra entrance and thoroughly enjoyed Wilhelmina, Juliana, area around bulb information and the area around main entrance of the garden. Then we had our lunch at a beautiful resting area made near a water body. There were small dining tables with chairs set on a wooden projection on the water and the whole area was surrounded by innumerable, colourful tulips. What else you need!!!!! Post lunch we went for Oranje Nassau, Willem-Alexander, Beatrix and the Wind mill along with the flower fields on its back side. The magical display of tulips was just beyond imagination. We enjoyed every moment in Kukenhof tulip garden. The photos shown on net are just information. There is a lot more to see, enjoy & experience in that garden. We also blossomed along with tulips in that garden. It was 5 pm and we started for our apartment in Amsterdam. We had evening free for Amsterdam city so we went to visit the Red Light District. Our children did not accompany us for this. If you can walk around with zero thought level of your mind, it is a worth visiting place. I could not detach myself so I got disturbed.
DAY:3 We took our tea at apartment, packed breakfast and lunch with us and started at 8 am. We reached Madurodam, Hague at 9am, had our breakfast and entered the amazing world of miniature architecture. Each and every building surprised us. The trains actually running on the tracks, buses actually running on roads, planes landing on airports, cruises sailing on water and what not!!!!!!!!!!!
Everything very tiny, cute but accurate!!!! It took two and a half hours and then we proceeded for Panorama Mesdag, a unique 3D panorama theatre-must visit place. At around 1pm we left for Delft to visit the Royal Delft pottery factory. I got information from internet that they actually show us the process of making the pottery and if you wish you can try your hand. It was not so, you can just visit the factory. It was good but not worth spending 11 Euros/px. I found it too expensive. We proceeded for Volendam, had our lunch on reaching Volendam. It was a beautiful Dutch countryside drive till Volendam but our joy knew no boundaries when we reached our destination. Volendam is extremely beautiful, typical Dutch cultured town. We walked till the jetty and caught a ferry for Marken, another Dutch country side town on the other side of Volendam. (We had e-tickets so could skip standing in a queue). Marken was a real good experience. We visited the wooden shoe factory-must visit place. Our Netherland trip specifically planned during these days was for Flower Parade. Today was 2nd and the Flower Parade was to start on 3rd. We knew that on the previous day evening an exhibition of all the decorated stages and cars was held at Noordwijik-The host town. We left Volendam after having our evening tea and snacks for Noordwijk. The best decision!!!! The exhibition was unbelievable. I have gone through the ‘you-tube’ videos and images of Flower Parade but those were not even 50% of the actual one. An amazing experience, electrifying atmosphere. I had to pinch myself repeatedly to confirm that I am not dreaming!!!!! To our surprise the replica of actual Flower Parade started at around 9:30pm with beautifully dressed bands and amazingly illuminated cars & stages. Apart from various bands there were other performers on road and on the huge stages as well. According to our actual plan we were to watch flower parade the next morning from Sassenheim. We came to Noordwijk for the exhibition and we were so lucky that we could watch the Flower Parade in a much better way. It ended around 11:00 pm and we started for our apartment in Amsterdam.
DAY:4 After having our tea & breakfast we started for our Amsterdam city tour. The local transport services including the tram service are very good in Amsterdam so we purchased 24 hour day pass for all of us and started our tour. We visited Beginhof, Dam square, Central Station, The Heineken experience and ICE bar( we just had a look as we are non-drinkers), Rambrandtplein Square, Leidseplein Square and walked around the canal. We ended our city tour sitting leisurely at Vondel park-huge park with so many things to do- cycling, skating, ground play, running, walking, sitting, picnic, photo shoot etc.
TIPS FOR AMSTERDAM:
• Amsterdam is a costly city especially during Tulip season
• Driving in the city becomes frustrating at times because of the cyclist and narrow internal roads. It is better to visit the city by tram. Tram services are excellent.
• Parking is very costly. If you are going to visit only Amsterdam then do not hire a car. If you are going to visit Netherlands and other European country than complete your city tour and near city excursions first through local transport and then hire a car. That will save you much of your money.
• Flower Parade and Vespa Scooter Bulb tour are two MUST DO THINGS in Netherlands but you cannot do both in same visit because usually Flower Parade is held towards the end of flower season so you find the bulb fields empty.
• You can further save your money by staying at the out skirts of Amsterdam or in towns like Sassenheim, Noordwijk etc. We thought that by staying in proper Amsterdam we would enjoy more but the transport services are so good that staying any where would end up with enjoyment plus you save money.
• Spare at least half day for Volendam and Marken. They are true DUTCH EXPERIENCE!!!!
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