Wednesday, October 31, 2012

United Silver...What I didn't think was possible. Plus maximizing a mileage run and hotel promotions

Back when we started this blog I was just easing into the idea of trying for elite status on some airline next year, throwing this year out of the question because of time and work. But then I added a bit of work travel I was not expecting and an extra trip to the west coast and realized that I was only about 5,000 miles away from United Silver.

I know that some of the benefits can be obtained with the United Mileage Plus card, which I already have, but I was interested in some of the other possible benefits, including the possibility of upgrades (of course) though that is slim, priority screening and best of all the possibility of Economy Plus. 

My parents live in Seattle so at least a couple of times a year I make the trip from Seattle to DC and I always pay for Economy Plus to give me a little extra room on the ride over. If I could avoid paying those fees a couple of times a year it would really save me some money. 

So...for the past few weeks I have been looking for mileage runs to try to cross 25,000 miles on the year when The Flight Deal, which you have to follow on a regular basis for all things mileage run, posted a deal for BWI to LAX for $191 all in. I quickly booked two tickets for Kelsey and myself and now I when all of my travel is done I will be 500 miles short of 25,000 and will need one short run to help push me over. 

The best part is that while in LA Kelsey and I have each booked one night at the Radisson in Anaheim near Disney Land so that we can take advantage of the Radisson Stay One Get One promotion. We can use those earned free nights to book a night in December in New York City before we go to Europe and save another free night for another trip where a cheap hotel (read: free hotel) room is needed. 

The best way to get to your travel goals is to look at where you stand...what you want to do...and the best way to get there in as few steps as possible and for as little money as possible. :) 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Omni Dallas Downtown

A few weeks ago I traveled to Dallas for work and had the opportunity to stay at one of the newest hotels in the Omni family, the Omni Dallas Hotel, which is located in downtown Dallas and is connected to the Dallas Convention Center. 

I landed at DFW and hopped in a cab with a few colleagues from work and we were at the hotel in about 30 min after hitting a slight traffic jam (it was right in the middle of evening rush hour). The fare for the four of us was around $60 total, so not that bad from an airport. 

The first thing you notice about the Omni is just how massive the building is. I know that everything is bigger in Texas, but this hotel is HUGE for a downtown hotel. The hotel is 100% non-smoking and it has 1,001 guest rooms and suites. We pulled up to the front area of the hotel and we were quickly assisted with our bags and directed to the three large front dest kiosks, but only one was staffed so it was a bit of a wait to get our room keys. 

The floor has two sets of elevator banks, one is from the ground floor to the 14th floor. The other is for floors 15 and above. I was placed on the 14th floor in a king room. The hotel has a slight bend to it and I was lucky to have a room on the bend which gave me a bit more room that some of the other rooms in the hotel. It made it almost feel like a "corner" room rather than a traditional room. 

The room its self was very impressive. It has a very modern look with bright and vibrant colors spread all around it. It also features tons of Dallas inspired arts pieces, and I don't mean your traditional "hotel" art, there were some really beautiful canvas and oil paintings in my room and in a colleagues room I saw. 

The room has a big sitting area and work area with a desk and a king bed with two huge bedside tables and set of dressers. The bathroom has an open stone shower, which is not my favorite because the control is at the back of the shower and you have to walk out of the water to even adjust it a bit. But, my favorite part of the bathroom was the tv in the mirror!!! I have heard of hotels that have this feature, but it was really cool to see in person. We all had fun asking others if they had seen the tv, some didn't even notice it until we told them about it. The room also had other little features that I loved, you had to put your key in to a slot in the door to operate the lights. Which I know is very common in Europe, but it was nice to see it making its way to the states. There were also little lights on the bottoms of the bedside tables that would only activate through motion detectors so if you had to get up in the middle of the night you would have a light on the floor without having to turn on other lights.  

Entry way and Closet 

Fridge and Coffee/Tea Maker

Sitting Area and Desk with view of Dallas



Sitting Area

Bathroom (Notice the TV in the mirror)
htOne of the coolest parts of the hotel was that the outside lit up in different neon colors at night


One of the coolest parts of the hotel was that the outside lit up in different neon colors at night: 

The hotel its self, as I mentioned, was absolutely massive. They have three floors of conference rooms from tiny to ballroom size. There were at least 10 meetings going on while we were having meetings in the hotel as well and you never knew it by just how many rooms they had. They also had great catering services. This was not your conference chicken affair. I had a delicious tortilla soup, salmon and salad both days that hit the spot.

There are also three restaurants in the hotel along with two "lounge" areas. There is a sports bar that has  tons of tvs for whatever sport you might be interested in, they also have a great outdoor patio which is nice to sit out on after a long day. One of the other restaurants was a steakhouse style place that is a bit more upscale. We went to dinner at their third restaurant, Texas Spice, the night we arrived. The restaurant is very focused on food that is local and sustainable so there was a good variety of local dishes. I had a salad with arugula, goat cheese, peppers and a jalapeno buttermilk ranch. For my main I hada bbq pork pizza with onions and a delicious bbq sauce. Everyone seemed to like the food and I would recommend it if you are looking for a close place to eat.

This hotel is really impressive. The rooms are very nice, the food is good and the location in downtown Dallas is great. I would love to stay here again! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lufthansa Amsterdam-Frankfurt, Senator's Lounge Frankfurt and Lufthansa Frankfurt - Dulles (747-400)

Dulles Lounges and United Washington Dulles - London Heathrow
London Day One
London Day Two
London Day Three
London Day Four
Overnight Ferry London - Amsterdam
Amsterdam Day One
Amsterdam Day Two
Lufthansa Amsterdam-Frankfurt/Senator's Lounge Frankfurt/Lufthansa Frankfurt - Dulles

It was an early morning for us on our last day as we got ready to head back to the states. Our plane left Amsterdam's Schiphol airport at 9:00 am and we left our hotel around 6:45 so that we could check out of the hotel and head to the train station.

There is an airport shuttle from the hotel that is available for around €25 per person, but you can easily take the train from the Centraal station for €6 each and it only takes 20 min.

So, after checking out of our hotel and walked to Dam Square where we picked up the tram to the Centraal Station which took about 5 min. After getting off we proceeded into the station and went to buy a ticket for the train when someone saw our suitcases and asked if we were headed to Schiphol. We said yes and she handed us two tickets, apparently someone had left them in the machine. the lady who gave us the free tickets, thank you! To the people who forgot their tickets, I hope you made it to the airport alright! If you don't have quite our luck with the tickets, remember that you need to have cash for the automatic ticket machines because they do not accept American style credit cards, only "chip and pin" cards.

The Schiphol stop is the third stop on the train and the announcer on our train made sure to announce the stop twice in English in addition to Dutch to make sure to help travelers who need to get off for the airport.

We left the train and headed up the escalators into the huge arrivals hall and looked for our flight. It's key to figure out which terminal your flight is leaving from because if you go to the wrong terminal you will have a long walk back to the correct terminal. We found our flight to Frankfurt and headed to the Lufthansa check-in desk. We were immediately helped at the First/Business check-in desk and our bags were checked all the way through to Dulles and the agent handed us our boarding passes. From there we headed to the premium security line, which seemed to be moving just as fast as the regular line. But I think that was mainly due to the guy in front of me who was trying to sneak through a full rod and reel fishing pole with fishing wire in tact. The supervisor advised him it wasn't allowed and he was having none of it and made sure to hold us up in the process.

After finally getting past the angler and his rod/reel we headed into the departures lounge area which has all of the Duty Free shopping. This is generally where you can wait until your gate is announced, it will be in one of the terminals that stems off the main waiting area and most are a 10-15 min walk from the departures lounge, so make sure you leave time once your gate opens. We decided to see what food was available in the Lufthansa lounge. Unfortunately the lounge in Amsterdam is a contract lounge with the other StarAlliance airlines and a few smaller airlines. To find the lounge you have to make a U-Turn after going through security and head up the escalators and it will be hidden away on the left hand side.

The lounge was large in size, but the offerings were very small. Just a few pastries and coffee/tea. But, it hit the spot for a quick breakfast before flying. I was trying to save my appetite for the Senators Lounge in Frankfurt as well as the flight back to Dulles.

Breakfast Offerings 

Amsterdam Lounge

Food/Drink Offerings 
After catching up on the news from the states on CNN in the lounge (You can't avoid it when you are two news/politics junkies from DC). We started our 15 min walk over to the B Terminal for our flight to Frankfurt. The inbound aircraft was a bit late in arriving so we were late to board, but once it started it was quick and efficient. The aircraft was an Airbus A320 and we were seated in Business Class in seats 2D and 2F. For Business Class seats on intra-Europe flights the middle seat is simply blocked off and not used. But, I ended up sitting there on the descent just to see as we headed for landing. The flight was a quick 45 min hop just right above the clouds. The service was really really nice, the flight attendants served us a light breakfast and drinks quickly in those 45 min and were very nice. We landed at Frankfurt and had a really long taxi to the gate.

We got off the plane and found that our flight to Dulles was leaving from Terminal Z and we landed in Terminal A. We followed the signs to Terminal Z and had to clear a form of immigration before being allowed to transfer into the new Terminal. It took literally two seconds with the immigration officer and we both had a fresh new stamp in our passport!

Once in Terminal Z we found the sign to the Senator's Lounge and made a direct line for it.

Lufthansa Display in the Terminal 

Senator/Business Lounge Frankfurt 
We were quickly admitted to the Senator Lounge and headed up the staircase to the main area. This lounge is HUGE but it was mostly full with passengers which made it a bit difficult to find a space to sit down. The lounge has a lot of comfortable arm chairs and a couple sets of high tables. There also appears to be a business center (the lounge has wi-fi as well) as well as showers if you should need them.

The best part, in my opinion, was the food offerings! There were a ton of little snacks and a few hot items. I made sure to take advantage of the hot dog and sauerkraut option and a nice Octoberfest beer. I figured it would be the closest I would get to Octoberfest for now, so why not!

Sorry...forgot to take a picture before eating :)

Kelsey enjoying the lounge

I of course had the plane spotting view!
 We enjoyed the lounge for about an hour before our it was time to head to our 1:00 pm flight back to Dulles. I managed to take a few pictures of the lounge on the way out.

Set of Showers

Food/Beverage Area

High Tables 

Had to take a picture of two A380s 
The flight from Frankfurt to Dulles has been, for the most part, switched to the brand new Boeing 747-8 and that was the main reason that I wanted to fly this route so that I could try out the new Lufthansa Business Class product. We were not lucky in this case because we got the one day of the week where they were flying the older 747-400. The difference, as you probably know, is that on the 747-400 the Business Class is on the bottom deck, but it is reversed on the 747-8. But, I was still happy to be flying the 747 in any form because it meant that I would get to fly in the nose of the plane!!! I have always been fascinated by the 747 and the bubble. My dad is the third generation in his family to work for the Boeing company so I have always been around Boeing planes and known their specifics to talk about with my dad and grandfather. So I was really excited that I would get to brag about riding in the nose of the 747 after this ride.

The boarding area was PACKED and you could tell how full this bird was going to be for the crossing. Everyone started to line up on both sides of the boarding area and there were no less than six boarding agents to get us on the plane. The gate was equipped with the new self-boarding systems along with separate lines for the First/Business Class passengers and Economy passengers, but the gate agents used neither. First/Business was called through the Economy gate and we made our slow one-by-one progress through the one gate agent processing boarding passes. The guy in front of us had some problem with his boarding pass and proceeded to yell at the gate agent and slam his bag on the floor in frustration...needless to say I don't know if he actually made it on that flight as I didn't see him again.

We passed through the boarding gate and got on an escalator down to gate level and took a left to door 1L where we boarded and took a left to find seats 2H and 2K. The seats were the old Business Class seats which are the angled lie flat version, but they are really really old....for most of the flight we had trouble getting them to actually move to where we wanted them to move.

Boarding was completed slowly, but we didn't mind and were offered champaign, orange juice or water for the wait. I gladly accepted some champaign and got settled in.

Kelsey settling in to our seat

Nose of the plane and seats in row 1

Pre-Flight Champaign

Actually Quite a Bit of Leg Room
 Once we were airborne the service started with more wine/drinks and a package of spiced walnuts. Kelsey selected the Sauvignon Blanc while I selected the Riesling. I made sure to sample both, for science and review purposes of course, and the Sauvignon Blanc was sweet at the beginning with a nice dry finish. The Riesling was sweet all the way through with hints of blackberries and strawberries. It was very delicious.

The menu was had quite a few selections and I ended up going with the Beef Salad, the Chicken Leg, and the Cheese Plate. Kelsey went with the Beef Salad, the Ravioli, and the Curd Mousse.

The beef salad was interesting, I wasn't expecting it to be cold, but after a few bites I got used to the flavor, but I don't think that I would go out of my way to order it again. The chicken on the other hand was brilliant. It was full of great "satay style" flavors and the vegetables were cooked perfectly and paired all together with the rice. I wish I could have had another portion of this and I would go out of my way to order it again. The cheese plate was very fresh and had an interesting sun-dried tomato pesto on the side.

Kelsey hated the beef salad but she said that her ravioli and curd mousse were very very good. The stewards in our cabin just kept coming by with more courses, bread baskets and wine so we were very full by the end of the service.  

Walnuts and Wine 


Champaign On Offer 
White Wine Pt. 1 

White Wine Pt. 2
Red Wine Pt. 1
Red Wine Pt. 2 

Beef Salad 

Chicken "Satay Style" 


Cheese Plate and F

Curd Mousse 

 The flight was very bumpy for the whole crossing. The seat-belt sign was on for about 4 or 5 hours of the 8 hour flight so that made it a bit worse for the comfort level, but that's to be expected every once and a while. But those old Lufthansa seats are just not that comfortable. As I mentioned earlier they would struggle to get into the desired reclining position and when you wanted to put it into a recline mode it was very weird that it went up in the air almost to get to the recline position. I put it into the angled-flat position for a bit to try and sleep, but I kept sliding down so I just decided to watch movies and tv instead.

The United flight with the full lie flat seats and great entertainment options really spoiled us at the beginning of the trip and I was sad to see that the Lufthansa flight was a bit worse in comparison. But, the service of the Lufthansa crew was absolutely second to none and made up for all of the shortcomings. I would love the opportunity to fly the new Business Class product, or dare I say First Class sometime in the future.

Just before landing a snack was offered and both Kelsey and I got the Breaded Chicken with Potato Salad and Lingonberries, it was also served with a Tomato and Cream Cheese Tartare with Pumpkin Seeds and Linzer Tart with whipped cream. The chicken was cold, but paired with the potato salad and lingonberries it was delicious. The tomato and cream cheese tartare with pumpkin seeds was horrible in my opinion, it just tasted off, but others on the plane seemed to enjoy it so it might have just been me. The linzer tart was a perfect sweet finish to our long adventure.

Snack Menu


We landed at Dulles and got into the huge immigration line, but it was all made better by the nice immigration officer who said "Welcome Back Home" and we were off to catch the Metro and rest up from our amazing adventure.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Amsterdam Day Two: Anne Frank House, The Nine Streets Neighborhood and Dutch Pancakes

Dulles Lounges and United Washington Dulles - London Heathrow
London Day One
London Day Two
London Day Three
London Day Four
Overnight Ferry London - Amsterdam
Amsterdam Day One
Amsterdam Day Two
Lufthansa Amsterdam-Frankfurt/Senator's Lounge Frankfurt/Lufthansa Frankfurt - Dulles

It was our last day before heading back to the states and I think that our constant on the go travel had finally caught up with Kels and myself. We woke up a bit later than we had been (8:30 am :p) and headed out to find a quick place to grab breakfast. Luckily we found an amazing place right off of the Dam Square area. The bakery had all kinds of pastries and doughnuts with lots of frosting. I.e. the only kind of doughnut. Kelsey got a doughnut of some kind and I got a delicious banana muffin. Both were really good and only around €2 each.

From Dam Square we got aboard the number 13 tram and took it three stop to the Westermark stop and then took an immediate right on Prinsengracht street/canal. Two blocks down the street on the right hand side is the famous hiding annex of Anne Frank.

The old storehouse building and hiding place for the 8 individuals during World War II has been preserved and turned into a museum. Entrance to the museum €9.50 each, but is worth it to see the small hiding environment that is detailed in Anne Frank's famous diary. The museum does a great job of weaving stories from her journal to make you feel like you are in the moment. This was my second time through the museum/house and I learned new things I had missed last time, it is worth every penny.

From the Anne Frank house we decided to walk through the next neighborhood which is a trendy area aways from the cookie-cutter tourists areas. There were dozens of vintage clothing shops and trendy boutiques that Kelsey had no trouble finding...I swear it's like she had a shopping radar in her head. :)

After walking around and grabbing a quick lunch at a restaurant in the area (nothing remarkable I am sad to report) we headed back toward our hotel to pick up a riverboat for a cruise around Amsterdam on the canals.

The tour we choose was operated by the "Rondvaart" company and was located at the intersection of Rokin and Oude Turfmarkt streets. The tour lasted about an hour and cost €9 each. The tour is conducted in English, Dutch, French, Italian and Russian which is always funny to hear as the narrator gets to each language and you hear a laugh or gasp as everyone else wonders what they are missing. But the tour takes you through some of the main canals and explains how the canal system works, points out most of the landmarks and also points out some of the unique features of Amsterdam architecture  For instance, you will notice that on most houses and buildings in Amsterdam there will be a hook on the very top of the roof gable. This is used as a furniture lift because houses are so skinny that they can't get things up the narrow stairs and instead have to lift and go through windows. Buildings used to be taxed by how wide they were, so people just simply build skinny and up to avoid taxes. You will also notice that buildings will lean a bit into the street to help make it easier to lift furniture.

From the boat dock we took a short walk over to a neighborhood called "The Nine Streets" which is a three by three block area of trendy shops and restaurants. Once again Kelsey's shopping radar went off and we were able to fully investigate every store on the nine streets. I can report back that if you love shopping, you will be very very happy. If you do not like shopping, you will do well to just keep quiet and go along with your partner who does to avoid consequences.

After shopping till we dropped we headed back toward our hotel and decided to grab something for dinner. One of the dishes we had seen advertised everywhere was Dutch pancakes, and as a pancake lover (See Our Denver Adventure) I knew we had to find a place to tuck into some pancakes.

We found our pancake shop right off of Dam Square and they literally had EVERY type of pancake you could imagine. You could go the sweet or savory route so the world is literally your pancake oyster (I think they had oysters even...but don't quote me on that). Kelsey decided to order a pancake with cheese, bacon and apples. I went the even more savory route with cheese, tomatoes and ham.

The easiest way to describe a Dutch pancake is it's HUGE, it fills up a whole dinner plate. It is between a crepe and an American style pancake in thickness and the batter is more savory than sweet. The pancake is cooked so that the outside crust is nice and crispy. You can put any number of topping on top, but the most common is Stroop which is a thick golden brown syrup that is less sweet than maple syrup and is the perfect companion to a savory pancake.

Kelsey's Pancake 

My Pancake
 After dinner we took one last walk around the canals and took in the beauty of the city as night approached. It was the last day of our trip and one last adventure remained....Lufthansa from Amsterdam to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Dulles.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Amsterdam Day One: Two Trains, One Tram, The Raddison Blu Amsterdam and Lots of Canals

Dulles Lounges and United Washington Dulles - London Heathrow
London Day One
London Day Two
London Day Three
London Day Four
Overnight Ferry London - Amsterdam
Amsterdam Day One
Amsterdam Day Two
Lufthansa Amsterdam-Frankfurt/Senator's Lounge Frankfurt/Lufthansa Frankfurt - Dulles

After disembarking from the ferry and clearing Netherlands immigration and customs we walked outside and found the train station which is right across from the entrance to the ferry terminal. Just a reminder, if you buy a "rail and sail" ticket for the ferry your ticket is good to any destination in the Netherlands, so you do not have to go to Amsterdam if you would rather go somewhere else.

But, our destination was indeed Amsterdam. That meant that we needed to go from the Hook of Holland where the ferry lands to Rotterdam, change trains and go to Amsterdam Centraal Station.

We found the train to Rotterdam was leaving from Track (Spoor in Dutch) 3 after asking a few people who had taken the train before. The train pulled up and we boarded in the door with a "2" on it for second class. You can buy first class tickets, but the only benefit is a little larger seat which you don't really need for this short of a ride. The train to Rotterdam is a commuter train with about 4 stops before you reach the central station in Rotterdam, so it gets quite busy with commuters if you are on board during the week day. The announcements are in Dutch, but there are displays all around the train that show the next stop and what time you will reach that stop.

Once we pulled into Rotterdam Station we found a train official and found out that the train to Amsterdam was boarding in 10 min. from the track next to ours. This train was much larger than the previous train and had two levels that you could sit on. This train ride was much longer, about an hour in total, and it was full rush hour so the train was packed full of people and our suitcases in the aisle was getting the stink eye. But, a nice passenger showed us that you can store your luggage between the seats where there is just enough room to fit a rollerboard suitcase and allows others to sit down in the previously occupied space. This will make you happy with no suitcase in front of you, and will make the locals happy because you aren't a tourist taking up 4 seats haha.                                      

NS Rail Map
About an hour after leaving Rotterdam we arrived at Amsterdam Centraal Station, which is a beautifully built station that was opened in 1889 and serves around 250,000 customers every day.

Amsterdam Centraal Railway Station
The Centraal station is also the hub for most of the tram lines that go through Amsterdam. The tram lines are easy to use and get you to most of the tourist areas so I would highly suggest using them. Our plan was to buy a 48-hour tram pass which cost us €12.00. To get the ticket you have to go to the GVB (company that operates trams and busses in the city) office. Luckily there is an office right outside of the Centraal station. You exit the station and head to the far left side where there is a set of buildings across the tram tracks. Inside you can pick up your ticket or any other ticket combinations you would like. For those without a real "chip and pin" credit card you have to use these ticket offices because the automated machines in the transit system ONLY take "chip and pin" cards, not chip and signature cards.

With our transit card in hand we headed to the track for the number 4 tram line. You can find the tram line you are looking for by locating the shelter that is located at every stop. The tram shelter will have all of the tram lines that run through there and what directions they are heading. The end of the tram line will be listed at the front of every tram. To board the tram you have to look for the set of doors with a green button. They are located at the very front and very middle of the tram, usually. This is to ease the flow of people on and off the tram, but it also allows individuals to buy tickets from agents at the "on" doors. If you have your tram pass you will need to "tap in" to the tram by touching your pass to the round ticket machine that is by each entrance door. We took the short tram ride three stops to the "Spui" street stop. When you exit the train you have to "tap out" of the train the same way you had to tap in to complete your ride. It is important to remember that you will have to touch the green button on the door both when getting on and off to open the doors, otherwise they will not open.

After getting off the tram we started a 10 min walk to our hotel, the Raddison Blu Amsterdam. We got a little lost, but a nice man was able to direct us toward our hotel. If you get a little turned around the street names are on buildings at every corner and everyone we met on the street was very willing to help us find our way.

We arrived at the Raddison Blu Amsterdam and walked into their very open and modern lobby. There were three check-in stations that were all busy with individuals checking out so we waited a few minutes before we were helped. The woman at the desk was very nice, but this is where my little gripe starts. I have Gold Status with Club Carlson and that allows for complementary room upgrades if they are available. But the nice woman checking us in spent a full 10 minutes trying to convince us to purchase a room upgrade with breakfast for €100, the breakfast is €25 each by itself. After refusing the upgrade/breakfast combo I indicated that I had status and asked if any free upgrades were available and she indicated that she would be able to put us in the same room she had been offering us, but it wouldn't have breakfast as an option, again saying we could add it on for €25 each. I know this is a little #firstworldproblems but it was a bit annoying that we had to ask for an upgrade that should have been offered and we were bombarded to pay with it first.

In the end she put us on the 9th floor, the top floor, in an Executive Double Room. The room was on the corner so it was quite large. It featured a king bed, a sitting area with tv, a marble bathroom (with heated floors!) and a Nespresso machine which was awesome!


King Bed

TV and Bureau 
The best part of the room was the view from the window. You could see a few of the old church steeples and a few of the canals.

Beautiful View

Beautiful View Again

We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and went to explore Amsterdam for the day. Sadly most of the museums that we wanted to visit (the Van Gogh and Netherlands Museum) were closed for renovations so we made the best of it and walked from canal to canal. When the museums open back up, and if you are in town for long enough to take advantage of the offerings a great option for tourists is the "I Amsterdam" card which gets you free admission to many of the museums in the city. We walked up by the Heineken Brewery and through the Vondelpark which is a large park on the edges of the center part of Amsterdam. The park is beautiful and has lots of dogs roaming freely with their owners enjoying a nice walk through the woods. It is a beautiful stop if it's a nice day. Though many people told us not to go there at night.

After the Vondelpark we found a small sandwich shop and picked up lunch. By that point I had tired out from not sleeping much on the ferry and went to take a nap. Kelsey went out and walked to the "Dam" area by the Royal Palace of Amsterdam which has great shopping.

We met up later and went for another walk to enjoy the canals by twilight and to try and find a place for dinner.

Looking toward the River Amstel 

Canal Right By The Hotel 
After wandering for a bit we stumbled upon a pizza restaurant that was a few blocks from the hotel. My main complaint with Amsterdam is that it is so tourist centric with the "weed" and "red light district" features that the restaurants you find are all cookie cutter places that look for tourists and deliver horrible food for high prices. This pizza restaurant, the Cafe Katoen, had none of those qualities. We noticed that most people who were dining appeared to be locals, most were college students from the nearby university, and the menu was in Dutch. But, as we found in most of Amsterdam, the waitstaff was happy to help us translate the menu and let us order in english.

Kelsey got a basic margarita style pizza and I got a pizza with prosciutto and arugula salad on top. We topped those off with a couple of Hoegaarden brews and it was a delicious meal for about €12 each.

Cafe Katoen Menu

My Pizza

Kelsey's Pizza
 We took the short walk back to the hotel and enjoyed the slightly lit canals and noticed how quiet the city had become. Despite its seedy elements Amsterdam is really a beautiful city. We saw more beauty on our last day before heading back to the states.

Good Night Amsterdam