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.
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.
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.
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 Willet–Holthuysen, 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.
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.
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.