Tag Archives | Amsterdam

Get Laid Over in Amsterdam

Two hours here, four hours there. Frequent travelers abhor layovers. With the continuing downsizing of the number air carriers, layovers are becoming a way of travel life. The truth is after 30 minutes to go the bathroom, grab a snack, there is just nothing to do but look at overpriced chatskis and sit on those uncomfortable green faux leather chairs.

woman in Amsterdam

I Amsterdam. I am also tired because I just stepped off a 10 hour flight.

Layovers are real time wasters or they can be an opportunity to see a city on a time limit. You choose.

The Fighting Couple likes to purposefully plan layovers to maximize seeing and doing.  Our favorite layover spot is Amsterdam.    Most destinations offer cheap flights to Amsterdam.  Flying in and out of Schiphol International Airport makes it easy to see the sites of one of the world’s most dynamic cities. 1000 Fights has laid Amsterdam two ways: quick and overnight stay.

Quickie: Minimum time 5 hours (1 hour to get too and from destination combined, 3 hour touring, 1 hour to wait at the airport)

Once you fly into Amsterdam, Schiphol has lockers you can store your luggage. So if you are a “carry-on” everything you own traveler, it’s lame to carry everything around town. Store your stuff in a locker and take just the necessities for the day. There are storage lockers throughout Schiphol. It will cost you a minimum of 6 euros for a small locker and up to 11.50 euros for a large locker for 24 hours.


The front of the Anne Frank Musuem and House and the line to get into it.

Next purchase tickets at the train station, Schiphol Plaza, which is in the airport. It’s a 15 minute ride into Amsterdam. Once you get to the city, Amsterdam has a fluid bus system. Pay attention to how long it took you to get there and the train table to get back. While an Amsterdam quickie is exciting, it wouldn’t be fun to miss your flight.

On our first Amsterdam quickie, we had just five hours. We arrived in Amsterdam at 8 a.m. and moved through the airport and train to get to the Anne Frank Museum and House. The Museum is a 20 minute walk from Central Station, but we chose to take a bus to get us closer. We found the Museum just as it opened at 9 a.m. and waited in line to get in. Plan on a line. It’s one of Amsterdam’s most popular museums. We advise getting online tickets in advance. Having read Anne’s diary multiple times, seeing the bookcase covering the stairway and Anne’s room plastered with magazine pictures like it was 70 years ago was gut-wrenching. After walking through the House, the museum concludes with her diary. If you aren’t weeping by the time you leave, you have no heart. For more information on the Museum, see the excellent website: http://www.annefrank.org/en/.

After the Museum, head back to the train station and catch your flight to your next destination. You’ll feel like you’ve seen and done something meaningful other than just biding your time in the airport.

Overnight Stay:

Amsterdam fireplace

Beautiful inlaid fireplace from the Willet-Holtuysen House.

If you have less than 24 hours to stay in Amsterdam, use your time wisely. Go through the same drill as before, store your luggage, take the train, and get started on seeing the city! 1000Fights likes to find a site that is uniquely interesting to us. In Paris, it’s LaFayette’s grave. In Amsterdam, it’s the Willet-Holthuysen Canal House Museum. Our last name is uncommon so when we see a name similar to it, we jump at the chance to learn more. The Willet-Holthuysen House provides visitors the opportunity to step back in time when elegance and wealth joined to create homes that were more like museums than living quarters.

Abraham Willet and his wife, Louisa WilletHolthuysen, were collectors of everything fine and fabulous and the home is littered with art, silver, china, and sculpture and smothered in fine silks, marble, and furnishings. The ground behind the house is a mini-Versailles and the home reflects the French aristocratic style. The museum’s website gives visitors a sneak peak of all the beautiful furnishings, but a visit inside is much better than pictures. We liked the museum because it wasn’t crowded and we felt a special connection to the place.

Amsterdam Gardens

Mike in front of the Willets gardens. Our home garden in Idaho look just like this. Not.

A five minute walk from the Willets-Holthusysen house is the Museum of Bags and Purses. Yes, there is an entire museum dedicated to my first love: handbags. It’s the largest museum in the world of purses. Housed in a 1666 canal house, the museum boasts more than 4,000 items dating back to the Middle Ages. You’ll see the delicate designs made with silk, silver and ivory.

Handbag collection

Luci couldn’t be happier to visit the world’s largest collection of handbags!

There are handbags from the 17th century and as recent as 2007 made by Alexander McQueen, Prada, and my favorite the “Cupcake Bag” featured in Sex and the City Movie designed by Judith Leiber. The museum combines art and fashion. You’ll leave wanting several of the handbags. Save up ladies! Just buy some postcards instead to show your friends.

Finish your layover with a good meal. We highly recommend the Greetje.  You’ll be back eating airport food the next day.  Hey, you may even want to forget the layover and take a Amsterdam city break.

Spring Break Europe 2013

Spring Break Europe 2013: What is Hot right Now?

If you’re wondering what European destinations are still making the top slot when it comes to spring break, look no further.

We’ve enlisted our friends at beatthebrochure.com to help give us brief rundown of what’s hot in Europe for 2013:


It may not score highly for hot temperatures, but give Iceland a go for its stunning architecture and scenery of glaciers, ice fields and volcanoes.  It’s also a prime position to catch glimpses of the Aurora Borealis, that’s the Northern lights to you and me.  There’s fantastic terrain for hikers to conquer, The Winter Lights Festival in February to enjoy, volcanic thermal spas to luxuriate in and capital city, Reykjavik.  The best news is that holidaying in Iceland is still relatively affordable.

Holland Museum

Willet Museum Amsterdam. One of our faves!


We have long used Amsterdam as a stopover in route to destinations afield in Europe.  We always like to build in a day or two in the city.  There are so many things to do in Amsterdam!  Spring break is the perfect time to take in Holland’s famous tulips.  Yes, the city is noted for it’s dark and seedy underside.  But the Dutch capital has so much to offer for the arts, history and culture lover.  The city is home to an amazing Van Gough Museum.  2013 marks its 40th birthday and no doubt will be honoring the country’s most celebrated artist, Vincent van Gough on what would be his 160th birthday.  Take a morning and visit Anne Frank’s home.


Barcelona is still as popular as ever.  Could this be due to the fact that it is crowded with fantastic architecture, is the place to indulge in guilt-free café culture and has its very own beach?  Whatever the reason, Barcelona is a must-visit destination for spring breakers, if only to appreciate architect Antonio Gaudi’s own inimitable style of architecture throughout the city.  Check out our post about the 10 Best of Barcelona.  The mild temperature of the area makes this the perfect spring break location.  Better yet take in the Barcelona and Real Madrid match!

Istanbul Carpet

One of our treasures being wrapped up at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul


The next pick is a Fighting Couple favorite  Istanbul.  This welcoming city is an interesting blend of old and new.  A contemporary art scene, boutique hotels and plenty of retail therapy opportunities rub shoulders with historical places of interest.  Enjoy the best of both worlds, but be sure to check out Turkey’s latest discovery, the ruins of Göbekli Tepe.  As well as Istanbul’s Old Town, Midyat and Mardin are also worth exploring.  Don’t forget to get an unforgettable Turkish bath!


The once imposing Berlin Wall, now reduced to remnants and the city’s chequered past, are of course huge pulls for visitors.  After all who isn’t fascinated by Berlin’s history and this now physically undivided city?  You’ll also find the Reichstag and great art galleries and museums to explore here.  Berlin is no longer dark and cementy? (Is that even a word?)  It is now a vibrant metropolis offering couples romantic parks, and tasty eateries.

You cannot go wrong choosing any one of these lovely locations.  Get out and enjoy spring!  So do you have a fave European city to welcome in spring?

Drop us a line below in the comments section if you have been to Iceland, Berlin, Amersterdam or Barcelona!

101 “Other” Things to to in Holland

One of our fave European cities is the “AMS” (Amsterdam, Netherlands).  Amsterdam is a collage of different feels-old and young.  After our first visit, Luci commented:  “this is the youngest oldest city I have ever been.”  She could not be more right.  Despite the fact that the architecture is so historic, the population of the city is decidedly dominated by the 25-35 set.  AMS loads of fun at all hours.  We recently did a post on great layover plans for the city.

Many travelers today taint their view of the country based on two vices: Pot and Prostitution.   Unlike other “escape” locales like Las Vegas, with AMS take away the “SIN” and you are left with an amazing “CITY”.  Holland has depth.   Holland has a multicultural, vibrant and rich history and tradition.

In part to counter the unsavory image being projected to the world, legislation was introduced recently to prevent foreigners from patronizing the “coffee” shops.  To counter the notion that all  the Netherlands is good for is a “weed-cation”, the Netherlands Board of Tourism enlisted  New York comedian/filmmaker, Mark Malkoff to show Americans that there’s way more to do in Holland than smoking pot in coffee shops!

Here a four short clips from youtube  that are hilarious!!!  Watch every one, they are sooo funny!




One night in AMS

One of the great things about woodenshoeland is that every flight in the world stops there. Once on a flight from SFO to LAX I had a 2 hr layover there.  Amsterdam is truly a vibrant city.  So easy to get around.  Great young vibe.  This coupled with the fact that it is one of the most storied cities in Europe.

What to see during a layover?

1) Anne Franks House

Read the book, stand in line, see the house.

2) National Museum (Rijksmuseum)-candidly we were not incredibly awestruck by their expanse of their collection, by you must, must, must see the Night Watch by Rembrandt.  It is a massive painting that is uber-compelling.  Don’t go looking for the girl with pearl earing.  she doesn’t live here.  She hangs at The Hague.  But there are a lot of “hot” milkmaids…aka Vermeers.

3) Willet-Holthuysen Museum-Ok, so we may be a little biased on this one…as Mike may be distantly related to the former owners of this old mansion.  Located on a side street not far from Rembrant square is this well preserved, traditonal Dutch mansion.  For travel buffs, it is not to be missed as Mr. Willet was a travel buff of his time.  The house is filled with trinkets and souvenirs he purchased while getting his passport stamped all over the then known world.  Ok for those of you not into beautifully restored mansions, priceless art collections, statues and furnishings…there is the Museum of Handbags a couple of doors down.  I think that Luci is still there.

Where to Dine?

You really cant go wrong in the AMS.  Such an eclectic mix true to is mariner heritage.  We did seek out and were richly rewarded with a visit to Greetje.  The food was simply scrumptious.  A strong mix of traditional Dutch fare.  The owner Rene was an absolute pleasure.  Reservations are almost mandatory to get in.  Please, please help us vote them higher on Tripadvisor.  This is too good a place to be ranked #8.

Where to stay?

If you are on layover, this may limit your options.  We were, but with the exceltnt tram and train service we opted to stay in central AMS.  Where would be the ideal place for a couple of peace hating, fighting, ugly Americans to say?  Yep, you guessed it, two floors above John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s honeymoon suite.

Take the time to see AMS.  When scheduling your flights, take the 8 hour layover option there in lieu of the 2 hr.   Afscheid!