Canal Knowledge, and The Girl with a Pearl Earring
Amsterdam had always been a stopover spot for me. I'd been through Schiphol International several times, but always on the way to somewhere else. Finally, I decided it was time for a visit. I had some air miles and did a bit of due diligence on Google, determining that my best bet was to do Airbnb rather than a hotel. I found a reasonably priced, centrally located studio on a canal downtown and pulled the trigger.
Since I was a newbie to Amsterdam, Youtube, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps were my friends. In addition, I downloaded several apps onto my phone but didn't use them. I did end up using Citymapper, which allows you to put the place you are staying in as home base, and then allows you to navigate all over the country, by walking, bus, tram, metro, train, ferry, etc, even telling you which metro car is the best to use, which exit to go to, when to leave, when the next connection was; in other words, a Swiss Army knife for travelers. After I found how user-friendly it was, it became my go-to app for getting around Amsterdam and The Netherlands.
All the major attractions, the Rijksmuseum, The Van Gogh, the Ann Frank House, and even canal boat trips required the selection of a specific date and time. It's a level of commitment I wasn't used to, but before I even left Phoenix, I had structured my entire visit around those commitments.
As a solo traveler, I've found that certain requirements make a visit to anywhere easier to pull off. Firstly, I need a nice clean, friendly place to stay. Not too nice, mind you, because then I find I'm more likely to nestle in and avoid the unknowns of a foreign city! So, a good pillow, a comfy bed, a clean room, a bathroom bigger than a phone booth, dependable hot water, adequate towels, etc. Shampoo, body wash, and conditioner are a bonus, but not a deal breaker. Oh, and did I mention consistent wifi? It's a must.
to be continued...