Overnight Ferry from London to Amsterdam

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London to Amsterdam on a Floating Hotel

Our trip to Amsterdam began via plane from SFO to London. Yes, we could have flown straight to Amsterdam, but I found a flight to London for half the price, and that’s just how we roll. We arrived in London fairly early as it was a long overnight flight and they are 8 hours ahead of San Francisco. I should mention here  that we also planned a quick trip to Paris, then Germany to see the kids, then back to Paris. We took the Eurostar back to London to spend a couple days before catching our flight back to SFO and we didn’t have time to backtrack through Amsterdam.

Tip on timing: When scheduling and booking, do not forget that you are usually arriving the next day – we have come across many people traveling from the USA to Europe that forgot to take that into account, and have missed their connection, had a hotel booked for the wrong night, missed a tour time, etc.

We booked a rail and sail package (online) from Liverpool Street Station to Amsterdam through the Stena Ferry Line. Check them out, they are awesome, seriously! Out of all the things we have done in Europe, this portion of this particular trip remains one of my husband’s all-time favorites. With the rail and sail package – we could have gotten off at any Dutch train station, we chose Amsterdam.

Rail N Sail Packages

Tip: Booking the overnight ferry, even booking a comfort class outside cabin, was less expensive than booking two airline tickets and a hotel room, and the trip was much more pleasant and less harried.

We took the train from the airport to Liverpool Street Station. Most of the airports in the London area have a train/tube connection that will spirit you to anywhere in the London vicinity, and it will be cheaper, and take less time than a taxi. Every time, honest. We had traveled rather lightly this trip with only carry-ons. 1. We didn’t want to take a chance of missing our train and/or ferry waiting for a missing bag. 2. We didn’t want to deal with TSA over things like toothpaste and disposable razors.  Since we had traveled so lightly, we needed to get a few personal items. Yes, trains stations in Europe are different than ours, they can be a great place to shop, the big ones are well stocked, and are not overly expensive. You can find €1 snacks and drinks, €3 combo meals, inexpensive toiletries,  scarves, batteries, phone chargers, clothing, umbrellas, reading material…you name it.

After filling a reusable, insulated M&S grocery bag with drinks, sandwiches, and a few other goodies, we got on the train towards Harwich. I should point out here that the ferry has several restaurants and a bar, but we were beat from the flight, and just wanted our floating hotel room with the ability to stretch out in a real bed. If you know you want dinner at one of their restaurants, purchasing one before sailing can save you money.

We arrived at Harwich train station a little after 7:00 pm and the embarkation point for the ferry was right there, we didn’t even leave the building. They started loading the ferry at about 8-8:30 and we were in our room by 9 pm.  We booked a comfort class cabin with a window, and we found the extras to be worth it, but if you just want transportation, a bed and a shower, and to save a few bucks, go for a standard.

The ferry was just awesome and to be honest the cabins offered much more than most American cruise line cabins. There was a FREE stocked mini bar all set up for us. There was a coffeepot, coffee packets, tea bags, sugar, mugs, and wine glasses. The fridge contained a variety of ice-cold spirits, Dutch beer, Italian wine, sparkling water, club soda, juice, and an assortment of tiny bottles of liquor. The counter above the fridge was stocked with fruits, nuts, chips, and a few other snacks. The beds had premium bedding, fluffy pillows, and were uber comfy. The bathroom was immaculate, roomy, and well stocked with towels, shampoo, and other incidentals. There was even a tv with several channels that was to be available all night and free wifi.  After showers, we ate our combo meals we brought from the train station. We put our heads to our pillows and barely felt the ship leave the dock.

We didn’t wake until we felt the ship docking in the morning about 6:30 or so. The docking was so smooth that I doubt we would have even been awakened had it not been for the great night’s rest. We took our time getting up, had some muffins we had purchased at the train station, and some fruit from the mini-bar. There seemed to be no rush to get you out quickly, like on an American cruise ship…loved that! As we made our way down the gangplank, and out of the ferry building …the platform was right there. Yay! We had to change trains at Rotterdam and the trip took a little more than an hour.

Tip: You can even book one of those cabins if you take the ferry crossing during the day. The time of a day trip is much shorter, so it is much cheaper. If you want/need a quiet restful place for you to work or little ones to nap, I’d suggest looking into it.

We didn’t have Honey yet, when we took this trip, but they do allow pets on board for a small fee. They must travel in your car, or stay in an on board kennel if you book a cabin.

There is a post about Amsterdam you may want to check out ~  if you haven’t done so already 😉

Stena Line – Celebrating 50 Years


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Don’t Accidentally Buy Pot Brownies in Amsterdam

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Don’t Accidentally Buy Pot Brownies

Amsterdam, Anne Frank Museum, and Keukenhof

Trip Report

Where we stayed

Our apartment in Amsterdam ~  we used airbnb to book it

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Hubby, Marc, checking out the wifi

We paid less for an apartment for 3 nights than a hotel would have cost us for 1 night. Hotels in Amsterdam = EXPENSIVE!

This is a link to the apartment we stayed in, loved it, hostess was awesome!

Our Apartment

I personally love staying in apartments when traveling and I have a post coming about that process soon!

We got to Amsterdam via an overnight ferry from London. Check out rail and sail packages from Stena Line. I have a blog post all about it.

Stena Line

 

Day 1: Welcome to Amsterdam

The train station in Amsterdam was minutes, by foot, from our apartment. We were really glad we had light luggage because it was a walk up (no elevator) and we were on the 3rd floor. (Remember, in Europe, the ground floor is 0, so this really means 4th floor in USA speak.) We checked out our new digs, and settled in for an hour or so, checking out the wifi, the kitchen, etc.  Then we went out to explore the neighborhood. We walked up and down several streets and then it started to drizzle. As we headed back toward the apartment, we decided that I would pick up a few simple groceries for the next few days, and some pastries from the coffee shop, while Marc went to the corner pizza shop and ordered and waited on a pizza for our dinner. I did not get the brownies in the window I had had my eye on. It went something like this.

Me: <smiling> Hello, English?

Young man behind counter: Yeah….English is fine.

Me: <pointing> I’d like a couple of those brownies, please.

Young man behind counter: Sure. What dosage?

Me: Dosage? Like size? They look all look the same?

Young man behind counter: <laughing softly> Ma’am, do you want marijuana brownies?

Me: <blank stare>

Young man behind counter: Uhhhh…These have pot in them, some light, some medium, some heavy – dosage – we have different flavors too

Me: Uhhhh, any normal … just chocolate ones?

Young man behind counter: Try the café across the street. In Amsterdam, coffee shops sell coffee, pot, and items with pot in them.

 Welcome to Amsterdam: We sell pot legally.

I probably should have read this before our trip.

Don’t accidentally buy pot brownies in Amsterdam

We had pizza and leftover muffins for dinner. No brownies.

Day 2: Anne Frank Museum

On the emotional side: Prepare yourself for this. I could barely speak by the time we left. Bring tissue.

On the practical side: Be prepared to walk a lot, stand a lot, and climb stairs. Buy your tickets online and print them out before your trip. The downside to this is that you must book a specific day and time.  The upside: You will save time. We saw people wait more than 2-3 hours (in the rain) to get in. We know this because a lady in a bright red raincoat with ducks on it, was just entering as we were leaving and we had been inside well over 2 hours. Pretty sure she was the only tall redhead in a red raincoat with ducks on it in the vicinity.

Anne Frank Ticket Sales

Since we had purchased our tickets online, we walked past the super long “snaking around several buildings and across several side streets” line, past the main entrance. To the left of that entrance, there was a little window with a locked door beside it, for tours and times, and a little sign stating they didn’t sell tickets there. I was ignored until I held up my tickets. We had gone to the area early to eat lunch, shop, and explore the area, but we didn’t find as much to do in the area as we thought we would. We had a 5:30 pm tour time stamped on our tickets and we were ready before 2 pm. Hmmm, what to do? I explained to the nice lady at the counter that we were early and very jet-lagged as we had just arrived in Amsterdam. I went on to explain that were afraid we were going to fall asleep and miss our time if we went back to our apartment and came back. I asked if it was possible to go early. She smiled and said she needed to check the queue. 3 minutes later, we were buzzed through. I can not promise that this will happen, but if you find yourself in a similar situation, it may be worth a shot. Incredible walk through history. Again, bring tissue.

Day 3: Keukenhof ~ The Happy Place

After the emotional rollercoaster of the Anne Frank house, Keukenhof was the happy place. Flowers, windmills, great little cafes, huge Dutch shoes, and a giant human leapfrog pad, what more could one ask for? Again, we bought tickets online before our trip, so no standing in line once we got there. We probably saved 20-30 minutes or so by having our tickets in hand.

Tickets to See the Tulips

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We spent the time around visiting the Anne Frank Museum and Keukenhof, walking along the canals, visiting windmills, and Dam Square.

DAY 4: Bye, Bye Amsterdam, Hello Paris

We took the TGV train from Amsterdam to Paris. It took about 3 hours.

I probably should have read the book below, before our trip.

Rick Steves’ Amsterdam, Bruges & Brussels


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