Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Amsterdam details (plus a bonus day in Cologne)

So, originally I had 4 days planned for Amsterdam, 2-1/2 for sightseeing (I get in from Paris around noon) and one for a day off. I took one of those days and gave it to London. Now I have to take another day and plan for an unexpected side-trip to Cologne (Koln), Germany.

I'm currently working with some people to get me a tour of the European Space Agency facilities outside of Amsterdam and in Cologne. The Dutch center is the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, and the German center is the European Astronaut Centre (EAC). I'm looking forward to the EAC, as that's where the US and ESA astronauts go for their space station training, something I'm familiar with as an ex-instructor in Houston. So in order to get these two tours, I had to sacrifice a day from Amsterdam. According to my preliminary plan (still subject to change up til the last minute), I'll spend 2 nights in Amsterdam and then the last day I'll do the ESTEC tour, take the 3-hour train to Cologne, do the EAC tour there, then take the overnight from Cologne to Copenhagen (and I get there around the same time as I would have had I left from Amsterdam). That's what I'm doing on my day off. If things fall apart, though, I'll have extra time in Amsterdam to hang out.

FYI, Rick Steves said to budget an hour each for the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh, while Frommer's said 3 for the Van Gogh and 1.5 for the Rijks.

See the original discussion from March here.

Day 12 Wed 9/28
  • 1143 Arrive in Amsterdam from Paris 
  • 1300-1500 city walk/bike ride from Central to Rijks (includes Damrak, Stock Exchange, Dam Square, Royal Palace, New Church, National Monument, Hidden Church, History Museum, Begijnhof, Mint Tower, Flower Market, and Leidseplein on the way) 
  • 1500-1630 Rijksmuseum
  • 1630-1800 Van Gogh Museum
  • 1800-2000 dinner at Leidseplein 
  • 2000-2200 Randy Roy’s Red Light District Tour
Day 13 Thu 9/29
Day 14 Fri 9/30
  • 0800-0930 ESTEC tour in Noordwijk
  • 1034-1324 train from Amsterdam to Cologne [*]
  • 1400-1600 tour of EAC 
  • 1630-1800 Cologne: Rhein-Seilbahn cable car or K├Âlner Dom
  • 1800-2200 dinner TBD 
  • 2228 Depart for Copenhagen on overnight train 
[*] Backup plan if the 10:34 train to Cologne on Friday is too early is to take the 12:34 train arriving 15:12, then do the EAC tour and skip the sightseeing afterwards, since both of those things I looked at close at 18:00.

Backup plan if the whole Cologne thing falls apart is to leave for Copenhagen at 19:01 on Friday and stretch the two days of activities into three.

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