Shermans Travel » Blog » Amsterdam
We’ve all been through our fair share of airports. Generally, I’m either running through them or waiting impatiently for my zone on my next flight to be called. But, according to CheapFlight.com‘s recent list, we should be taking a few extra moments to step back and enjoy our airport’s offerings. Read on to find out the awesome services right around the corner from your gate and read our list of top 10 airports for shopping! Read more
If a Mediterranean, Adriatic, or Baltic cruise is on your 2012 travel wish list, check out the $1,776 July 4th sale fares now being offered by Windstar Cruises (must be booked by July 6). Windstar, which operates three tall-masted luxury ships – 312-passenger Wind Surf and 148-passenger Wind Star (shown at left in Greece) and Wind Spirit – has lowered fares on 20 European voyages sailing from mid-July to mid-November (with some fall voyages priced as low as $1,476 and December Caribbean voyages priced from $976).
I have cruised around Europe extensively and have sailed on both Wind Star and Wind Surf. If, like me, you prefer smaller ships to the behemoths, you’ll enjoy the intimate ambiance, wonderful service, superb cuisine, and easy camaraderie that these ships offer. Here are few of my recommendations for itineraries among those on sale until July 6:
Giggles are muffled and eyebrows are raised when anyone mentions traveling to Amsterdam. After some perfunctory chit chat about the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, a pregnant pause typically lingers until someone asks the question: “Did you smoke marijuana?” Since the 1970s, tourists have flocked to Amsterdam to legally get high. Now, however, the laws have changed and, come May 1, coffee shops in the southern half of the country will cater only to Dutch residents who are registered members and possess a “weed pass.”
Of course, lawyers for the coffee shops are fighting the ban on tourists and hope to prevent the law from going national come January 1, 2013. However, I think it’s high time that other cities followed the Dutch and made local customs available only to residents. Here are just a few treasured traditions that locals deserve to enjoy without having to share with tourists.
Romance is revving up all over the place during the month of February, from sun-kissed beaches to sophisticated big cities. Here are 25 deals and packages – from Fort Lauderdale to Fiji, Maine to Madrid, and St. Kitts to Sedona – that you can still book to make this Valentine’s Day the most memorable ever:
IN THE U.S. & CANADA
The Grand Del Mar: Unplug and relax with the “Disconnect Package” at the luxurious The Grand Del Mar near San Diego (shown above at left) and you’ll get one night’s accommodations (with the room TV unplugged and upgrade upon booking if available), berry-infused champagne cocktail upon arrival, choice of a 60-minute couples massage, or a 2-hour horseback ride for two, breakfast in bed for two, and late checkout, from $795/night. Read more
When I stepped aboard the bite-sized Avalon Panorama, I had no idea what to expect from a ship built to navigate a quarter-mile-wide waterway. The 166-passenger and 47-crewmember cruiser (the ninth Avalon Waterways vessel to be inaugurated into the European river cruise fleet since 2006; two more are in the pipeline for 2012) sailed a five-night christening voyage from Frankfurt to Amsterdam on May 13 and docked at historic countryside and city ports on the Main, Rhine, and Mosel rivers.
Designed more like a floating hotel than a cruise ship – a characteristic of river vessels – the 443-foot-long Panorama is short enough for passengers to walk from the self-serve beverage station at the back to the outside viewing deck at the bow in less than five minutes. This ship trades commercial ocean liner facilities like casinos, theaters, and climbing walls for truly exclusive touches, such as floor-to-ceiling windows in public spaces and suites, insightful local tour guides, and the Silent Drive System for soundless cruising, so you can enjoy the rolling riverside without the background hum of a motor – at unexpectedly affordable prices.
Admittedly, Amsterdam isn’t top of mind when one thinks of cities ideal for a romantic getaway. And yes, parts of the city are more appropriate for yet another sequel to The Hangover than they are for a sentimental sojourn for two. Yet on a recent visit in April, my third overall, I discovered that the key to finding romance in this small city crisscrossed by canals and bridges, filled with museums, and overrun by bicyclists is to avoid wandering into the Red Light District and to stay in a fabulous hotel (with an equally fabulous restaurant). Here are four luxury properties you should definitely consider – all very different in style and ambience, but perfect for a journey à deux:
Spring usually means the arrival of warmer weather, blooming flowers, and higher airfare to Europe. Fortunately, KLM is breaking tradition and slashing rates on flights to London, Venice, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rome, Barcelona, Helsinki, Oslo, Prague, Madrid, Zurich, and Stockholm! This sale coincides with the start of festival season in Europe, so why not pop over to Budapest for the Palinka food and wine festival, Barcelona or Madrid for May Day fiestas, and Stockholm for the popcorn film festival? Fly now through May 15 from Chicago, New York, Dallas, or San Francisco for rates as low as $278 one-way.
Sample Fares (O/W)
• New York City – Barcelona: $278+
• Dallas – Amsterdam: $313+
• Chicago – London: $336+
• Miami-Budapest: $374+
• Washington – Oslo: $379+
• Houston – Venice: $384+
• San Francisco – Madrid: $419+
THE VALUE: Fares to Europe in April and May are often close to $500 each way, so this sale saves you an average of $400 round-trip.
THE CATCH: Taxes and fees are not included, and these one-way prices are based on round-trip purchases.
THE DETAILS: Click here to book your flight with KLM.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the best hotel deals in Europe.
Whether killing time or scrambling to find last-minute souvenirs, most of us are at one time or another saved by airport shopping. Yes, every airport comes with the standard magazine stands and tacky gift shops, but our top 10 airports for shopping take their retail seriously. We’re talking endless duty-free arcades, luxury boutiques galore, and, maybe most notably, small local retailers that supply homegrown items unique to the destination itself. And isn’t that what souvenir shopping is all about? These gateway hubs span the globe, from Portland to Dubai, and offer the traveler more than just a distraction before boarding – they provide a viable (not TSA-related) reason to arrive the recommended three hours before (international) departure time. Get a sneak peek at the goods with our Top 10 Airports for Shopping slideshow, then read our Top 10 Airports for Shopping article to plot your next layover.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.
I just spent a long weekend in Amsterdam, and as an enthusiastic, if not avid, cyclist, exploring this enchanting city – known as the bike capital of the world – on two wheels was an unforgettable experience.
And an adventurous one, too, even though I consider myself a moderate-level rider. The city’s infrastructure includes 249 miles of bike lanes, which constantly flow with the traffic of thousands of fellow riders. Add in trams, scooters, oblivious tourists, and a no-helmet philosophy, and intimidation can easily set in.
But here are a few tips to ensure your Amsterdam cycling experience is a smooth one, which you should definitely celebrate with a few beers in a canal-side cafe. Happy riding!
Don’t get distracted. You’ll be surrounded by Amsterdammers who, while pedaling, can talk on cell phones, weave through traffic, run red lights, transport one or two additional human passengers, and balance multiple bags and groceries – sometimes all at once – with virtually no effort. Don’t even think about trying to match up; just focus on getting to your destination safely. And your fellow cyclists are just part of the landscape: Be careful not to over-ogle the enchanting views of canals, bridges, and houseboats (photo above at left courtesy of Flickr/Andrea Schaffer). Instead, park your bike and wander on foot to really let it all sink in.
British Airways’ Europe air fare sale is the perfect way to spend that languishing Christmas bonus. Starting from just $397, round-trip flights span the breadth of Western Europe from Paris to Madrid to Frankfurt and more, departing from over 15 major U.S. cities on both coasts, with the lowest rates on routes from the Boston, New York, and Philadelphia heading to London and Edinburgh. Reserve your seat by January 27, and soak in Athens’ mild climate and Carnival celebrations or stroll through Florence’s art galleries and cathedrals unhindered by the crowds of summer, all the while paying half the rate of non-discounted flights.
Sample Round-Trip Fares (Before Taxes):
- New York-London: $397
- Boston-Edinburgh: $397
- Houston-London: $472
- Philadelphia-Madrid: $498
- New York-Rome: $519
- Philadelphia-Munich: $530
- Chicago-Amsterdam: $565
- Boston-Prague: $577
- Miami-Milan: $579
- Orlando-Rome: $579
- Washington, D.C.-Barcelona: $549
- Los Angeles-Milan: $649
- Las Vegas-Paris: $656
- Baltimore-Athens: $676
- And more!
THE VALUE: Save over 50 percent on regular airfare.
THE CATCH: The climate is similar to the States, so don’t expect to get too far away from the chill.
THE DETAILS: Visit www.travelocity.com to book your flight by January 27! Travel January 25 through April 12.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Visit our Savvy Flyer blog before you take off for up-to-date advice and news from the skies.
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