Fenix is excellent. Even having never been to Toverland before, I could tell how well their transformation was going. Dwervelwind kicks butt as well.
Data entry nut for the official TPR coaster poll! https://coasterpoll.com/ Follow me on Instagram for perfectly adequate theme park photos! The opinions that I post on this forum do not necessarily represent those of the company I work for.
Great tour of Toverland! So much, in several years, added to that park. Thanks for sharing it all. And that Merlin's Plate looked great. It looks like it would definitely be enough for myself, with all that bread.
And of course................ "TROY!" (I rode it nearly 10 times, when TPR was there in 2008)
Loving this TR as always! I really enjoy places with giant play areas (like City Museum) where you get to make your own fun, so Toverland is definitely high on my list of places I need to get to someday.
After we departed Toverland on the afternoon of July 20th, we got back to Amsterdam early enough to head into the city for the evening. I certainly wasn't going to waste an opportunity to get out and see some stuff while I'm in Europe.
But this trip report isn't just going to cover the evening of July 20, 2019. Between the 2016 and 2019 TPR trips, this was actually my fourth chance to head into Amsterdam for some sightseeing. So, this seems like the best spot in the TR to shoehorn in all four visits to Amsterdam.
I do really like Amsterdam, though it's not my favorite of the big European cities I've visited. I definitely enjoyed it a bit more once I got away from the big crowds in the city's touristy central area, and focused in on some of the things I like to see when I'm traveling. If you liked some of the early pages of this TR, you'll like this one too. If not, well, there will be more coaster photos next time around.
We'll start all the way back at...
Saturday, June 18, 2016 Amsterdam: Part 1
Our 2016 trip had just finished up a visit to Efteling, and we headed north to Amsterdam, staying at the same Courtyard Marriott as we did on the 2019 trip. We had a free afternoon/evening, and most (if not all) of the group went into Amsterdam.
This was far from my favorite visit to Amsterdam, but it got some of the touristy stuff out of the way.
Background: the Courtyard Marriott, TPR's official hotel in Amsterdam.
Foreground: one of the trains heading through the station. We hopped on one of the metro lines and went north into the city.
We went to Dam Square, the main public square in Amsterdam. It was crowded.
We went to the Amsterdam Dungeon, a Merlin attraction that is one-part haunt, one-part performance art, one-part mirror maze, one-part historical lesson. I didn't hate it, but this isn't really my thing.
Walked down to the Bloemenmarkt, the very touristy set of flower shops on one of the canals.
Tulip bulbs? Wooden shoes? Buy up all your little Amsterdam trinkets.
Or, buy this. Because if there's one thing Amsterdam's good at merchandising -- maybe even more so than tulips -- it's weed.
At this point I wasn't exactly loving my time in Amsterdam, but that was all about to change pretty quickly.
See, this here is the first fresh Stroopwafel I ever had in my life -- though we'd been introduced to the packaged variety by TPR veteran E.B. a couple days earlier.
Needless to say, this was a game-changer.
Stroopwafels are the Netherlands' finest creation.
Walked on down to another touristy spot -- the Magere Brug on the Amstel River.
It's one of those classic-looking old bascule bridges you see around the Netherlands -- including in my previous trip report from Leiden. For whatever reason, the Magere Brug is one of Amsterdam's most famous bridges.
We walked through a bunch more streets that kind of looked like this. Bars after bars after coffee shops after coffee shops. Combined with the gloomy weather, it wasn't really what I wanted to see.
We finished off the trip with a canal boat ride.
Look closely at the orange boat on the left for a funny.
Ah yes, this is how I want to see Amsterdam -- through the smudged glass of a packed boat.
Thankfully, we got seats on the boat's back deck, which was open-air. Here's a view as we departed the main canal boat dock by Amsterdam's Central Station. Won't be the last time this building shows up in the TR.
We cruised the canals, we crossed under some cool bridges, and I took a lot of horrible photographs in the fading light of the evening.
Let's move on.
Sunday, June 19, 2016 Amsterdam: Part 2
The next day on the 2016 trip, we went to Walibi Holland, and had a lot of fun filming on Goliath, Lost Gravity, and Robin Hood. Well, maybe not so much fun on that last one. Robin Hood was pretty rough. I wonder if they'd ever consider...
...but anyway, we left the park in the mid afternoon, with enough time to head back into the city for a few hours. This time, I went on a solo venture, and decided to check out some new destinations.
Opposite view from the first picture of the last segment! This one is from the Courtyard hotel, looking down at the train station.
This funky building behind the station is Het Zandkasteel -- formerly the headquarters of ING, the big financial company.
Dutch architecture is cool.
Now in the city, here's another neat building -- the Scheepvaarthuis.
It has nothing to do with sheep -- Scheepvaarthuis translates to "Shipping House." It's about 100 years old, and a classic example of the Amsterdam School of architecture.
The view of the front of the central station, and yet another boat in the canal. This time, I'd be headed elsewhere.
I walked around to the back side of the central station, looking across the IJ.
"IJ" is the name of the body of water. In Dutch, "IJ" is a digraph, which means both letters behave as a single letter.
Now you know!
Across the IJ is the A'DAM Toren. It's really the only tall building on the north side of the IJ.
On top of the A'DAM Toren? A giant open-air observation deck.
Guess where I'm headed?
To get there, I walked over to the back side of the central station, under the big arched ceiling.
Hmm, why are some of the panels colored in? You'll see soon.
It's easy to get across the IJ -- just hop on one of these ferry boats.
To the best of my knowledge, this was a free ferry. If not, then I stole a ride. Sorry, Amsterdam.
In an earlier TR segment, I mentioned how you'd see peoples' cars parked on top of their boats as they sailed around the Benelux. Here's a great example of that.
Also, big touristy letters. A must for the instagrammy folks out there.
CLIMBING THESE LETTERS IS AT OWN RISK.
Some people are all about taking risks.
As for me, I've got my sights set a little higher.
Inside the A'DAM Toren, there's a neat little scale model of the city -- with its concentric array of canals.
Riding up the elevator shaft to the top!
...but if this is actually a picture of riding /down/ the elevator shaft, I bet no one will ever know...
Standing atop the A'DAM Toren. The platform is about 80 meters high.
It was not very busy.
The entire top of the A'DAM Toren is fenced in, which is tough for photography. They had just one camera hole on each side -- that was fine for three of the sides, but some dude was doing a time lapse or something on the side facing the city, and I had to get by with trying to get the lens positioned just right to avoid the fencing.
Anyway, on to the views. Here's a look east along the IJ.
This is where the ferry lets off near the A'DAM Toren.
Remember those colored panels on the ceiling of the central station? It spells out Amsterdam!
This is exciting.
To be honest, you're a little far from the core of the city to see a whole lot.
Off in the distance, this is Zuidas -- a quickly developing modern business district a couple miles south of downtown Amsterdam. It's sort of like a smaller version of La Défense in Paris.
You can get a look at some of the taller buildings in the center of Amsterdam.
The one with the green top is one of the city's most important -- the Royal Palace of Amsterdam (Koninklijk Paleis van Amsterdam).
This funky looking green building caught my eye. I might just have to check it out in 2019...
Further views from the A'DAM Toren include more water, more boats, and more cool buildings.
Looking west along the IJ. The North Sea is out there somewhere.
It's not as big of a port as near Rotterdam, but it's still a pretty busy shipping area.
BOTEL. It's a boat, and it's a hotel. I get it.
Even further off in the distance, a plane lands at Schiphol.
I waited a while up there to see if the sun would break through and improve some of these gloomy aerial views, but that didn't happen until /after/ I got back down to ground level, because of course.
So, let's head back down to the dumb touristy letters.
Along the IJ, people fish.
And then the sun does come out, illuminating the mix of buildings along the water.
It's really quite the mix of old and new -- perhaps this picture tells the story the best.
I don't think I've ever seen this many bikes in one place.
One last look across the water at the A'DAM Toren. The building to its left is the EYE Film Institute museum.
We're back in central Amsterdam, but this time, I headed a few blocks west of the touristy center of the city, where things were much quieter and much more to my liking.
I sought out this very understated landmark near one of the bridges -- it's the engraved white thing near the center of the photo.
This is the last remaining original benchmark placed by order of Lord Mayor of Amsterdam Johannes Hudde in 1683. It's essentially the standard by which elevation is measured in the Netherlands. In short, this benchmark shows sea level -- which the canals in Amsterdam are well below.
I continued walking south, enjoying the view of the canals, and passing the Anne Frank House -- which had a line at least an entire city block long to get in.
The setting sun hit this arch bridge just right.
A look up at the large church known as Westerkerk. That's a pretty tall tower. Might have to climb it someday.
Near the Westerkerk is the Homomonument.
In the words of the monument:
"Commemorates all women and men ever oppressed and persecuted because of their homosexuality. Supports the international lesbian and gay movement in their struggle against contempt, discrimination, and oppression. Demonstrates that we are not alone. Calls for permanent vigilance."
The monument is, in part, a triangle built out over the water of one of the canals.
It was heavily adorned, and for a very particular reason.
This visit was on June 19, 2016. Exactly one week prior was the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.
The candles, flowers, and notes were a sign of support and solidarity -- from the Dutch (and their visitors) to those affected by the awful situation in Florida.
As I continued southward, I noted just how close these cars are parked to the edge of the canal.
The moon rises as the light begins to fade...
I passed by the Rijksmuseum -- the Dutch national history and art museum, said to be the city's most visited.
Actually, I passed /under/ the Rijksmuseum, because a walking / bike path cuts right through the center of it.
Oh look, more touristy letters at the Rijksmuseum.
This picture is for all the TPR members who won't go to Holiday World because they don't serve alcohol.
A pleasant evening scene on the waters of Amsterdam.
After a long walk, I found my way back to the Amsterdam Metro.
Well, I guess I'll take the stairs.
Back at the Bijlmer ArenA station at the end of the night.
...and back up to the hotel. That's it for 2016, but there's more to come.
OK, now back in the 2019 timeline, Part 3 is actually going to jump a couple days before where we left off -- to right before we went to Efteling. Our official meet-up to leave for Efteling was in the early afternoon, which provided a few hours in the morning to either catch up on sleep ... or go out and be tourists.
Sleep is for the weak. Let's get out and see the city.
And we'll start with something quite a bit different.
I didn't jump on the train this time. Instead, I walked east, out of the Bijlmer ArenA area and into a quieter residential area.
This is an area called the Bijlmermeer -- a very diverse neighborhood in the southeast part of Amsterdam.
I happened to come across a bit of art.
Wait, is that...
Yep. It's exactly what it looks like.
This art installation, if I can call it that, is on a canal underneath a road overpass.
It's called Tayouken Piss -- or Les Pisseurs d'Amsterdam. It was installed in 2009-2010 by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou.
There's literally nothing else I can possibly say about this very creative artistic masterpiece, so hopefully the pictures have told the story.
OK, at the risk of mood whiplash from the insane to the somber, my next stop was at a memorial.
To be specific, it's a memorial for a major aviation incident -- the crash of El Al Flight 1862.
The descriptor here is all in Dutch, but the key is to look at the shape of the buildings on the map. The plane (a cargo flight on a Boeing 747) crashed into two of the apartment towers, with their former locations shown in red hatching on the map.
The impact into the apartment buildings caused the towers to collapse, and at least 43 people died. This includes the small number of crew on the flight.
"On Sunday evening, October 4, 1992, at six thirty past six, an El Al Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed into the flats at Groeneveen and Kruitberg - a memorial to this monument around 'the tree that saw everything'."
The tree in question -- seen a few pics above -- survived the crash and was made the centerpiece of the monument.
The names of some of those who died in the crash.
These concrete troughs and waterways mark the location of the former apartment towers that were impacted by the crash.
Walking a little further, here's another apartment building -- perhaps what one of those towers may have looked like at ground level.
A mosque next to the nearby metro station.
And since I'm here, let's head up to the metro and take the trip into downtown.
We've returned to central Amsterdam for another round of fun and games.
This license plate is quite on-the-nose for Amsterdam, isn't it?
De Dokwerker -- a memorial statue for the strike against German occupying forces in February 1941.
A common sign of Amsterdam's friendliness to the LGBTQ community.
So many canals, and so many boats.
I was amused to see this one, with Efteling's advertising all over it.
The re-tracked Python gets some love on the back of this canal boat.
SFMM, take note.
Bridges! Ornate lamp posts!
The building in the background here is the Stopera -- Amsterdam's combined City Hall / opera house.
I'd probably be more willing to do another boat tour if it were on a smaller, open-air boat like this.
With a little bit of sun, Amsterdam looks quite nice.
Boats and cars lined up along the canals.
The Munttoren -- a guard tower that was a part of the city's old fortifications.
Yeah, I had to walk back through the touristy area again, but while I'm in the neighborhood...
...yep, another Stroopwafel. Worth it. Always worth it.
So, I was heading back to the Westerkerk, which I saw briefly in 2016.
At some point between then and 2019, I realized that you could actually climb a lot of old church towers in Europe -- including this one!
But this one didn't do appointments in advance, and when I stopped by, they didn't have any openings for a couple hours. That wouldn't have gotten me back to the TPR meetup in time, so I had to pass... for now...
Kind of a funny looking statue of Dutch writer Eduard Douwes Dekker -- who went by the pen name Multatuli. Multatuli is Latin for "I have suffered much." Real life of the party kinda stuff here.
Canals and big domes.
More neat old architecture near the center of the city.
Magna Plaza -- the former Amsterdam Main Post Office. It's now a shopping mall. Regardless of its current use, it's a fantastic late-1800s neo-gothic / neo-renaissance building.
The crowds were out again on Dam Square...
...under the dome of the Royal Palace.
Just passing through Dam Square this time, though.
Headed east -- and passing De Oude Kerk (The Old Church). It's Amsterdam's oldest building, dating in part back to 1213.
Out on the water on the northeast part of downtown.
Some very large boats docked out on the IJ.
A row of buildings along the waterfront...
...including Amsterdam's main public library.
Remember this big weird-looking green thing that I saw from the A'DAM Toren?
This is the NEMO Science Museum.
No, I wasn't going to actually go in the museum, but the huge outdoor terrace looked like it was worth visiting.
The museum was established in 1923, and has been housed in this unique-looking building since 1997.
Looks like my nice sunny morning was starting to go away...
...but there's still time for some more photography.
That's the central station, viewed from a bit of a distance.
Boats in the foreground, and the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the background.
Sciencey things at the entrance to the museum.
But I'm heading up to the terrace, which is open to the public.
Easy to get up top -- a big staircase leads the way.
A freeway tunnel goes underneath the museum, and continues under the IJ, emerging on the north side of the water.
It's really quite a novel setup -- a science museum, a public terrace, and a road tunnel all sort of built on top of each other.
Getting up to the top.
The seating area at the top. There's also a restaurant / cafe up here.
You can look down and see small boats...
...and large boats!
The city skyline is dotted with steeples and spires...
...like these two.
A view west over the water, looking toward the central station.
Here's the Scheepvaarthuis again.
Another view of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas.
Pedestrian bridges down below.
Further off in the distance, the A'DAM Toren.
...and they built swings that go out over the edge of the tower.
Those were definitely not there in 2016!
Back at ground level, and starting to run out of time...
...so I crossed these bridges on my way back toward the central station.
Another look at the buildings and ships on the water.
A final glance back at NEMO.
On the waterfront near the public library, the other tall buildings, and a huge Chinese restaurant.
Somewhere around here, I stopped at a restaurant called Pippers -- "home of the mini sandwich." Exactly like it says -- they specialize in tiny sandwiches, small enough that you can order two or three.
I ordered two to go, as time was running short.
A sign advertising the Future Cities expo in Amsterdam, which is also probably the only time Avenged Sevenfold is ever going to appear in one of my trip reports.
Alright, there's the entrance to the Metro station...
...so I headed down into the station, found /all/ of the ticket machines were broken, and had to run another block away to the station's other entrance.
I had a train I needed to catch. You don't ever want to risk missing the TPR bus.
(I made with a good 10-15 minutes to spare)
With that, we were off to Efteling, and then Toverland. You've already heard those stories.
So we'll move on to the final Amsterdam adventure...
My last trip report segment ended with our departure from Toverland, as we narrowly escaped some thunderstorms. With the weather all cleared up, we got back to Amsterdam in the late afternoon, with an opportunity for one more trip into the city.
This time, I wasn't going to be wandering aimlessly. I had two places to go, both of which were planned out as high priorities before the trip had even begun.
We'll start, as usual, at the central station.
To say the weather was nice would be an understatement -- of my four trips into Amsterdam, this was by far the best.
Rowing a boat is one way to travel in Amsterdam.
Another is by tram / streetcar. This was my first time using the tram system in Amsterdam. It's not particularly fast, but it's better than walking if you've got a ways to go.
I took the tram to the Westerkerk, making yet another appearance in this trip report.
Two days prior, they didn't have any open slots for tower climbs that were going to work for my schedule.
You can see people on the outdoor platform of the Westertoren, to get an idea of where the tower climb tours end up.
Also, the Westertoren's big crown up top is a defining feature. It's actually the Imperial Crown of Austria of Maximilian I.
The tower tours are inexpensive -- only €9 per person. The problem is that each tour only allows six people. Six is a very small number.
Was I going to get in?
Yes, I was! I got either the last or second-to-last slot for the final tour of the day.
It's a long way to the top, and it all starts through this door.
It gets ... steep.
Steep and spiraly.
There are several stops at landings along the way up, where you can see some of the inner workings of the tower.
The bells are of greatest importance -- not surprising, since it's a church tower.
Not only are these bells on display, but the tour guide actually invites you to tap on them to hear them ring.
Some of the bells date back to the 1600s, cast by the Hemony brothers.
This is a 17th century baton keyboard, which was an instrument originally used to play the bells of the Carillon.
The inside of the tower is an interesting mix of brick and wood.
The stairways just get steeper as you get further up.
Finally, just below the outdoor platform, you find this huge swinging bell -- it's probably 5 or 6 feet across.
One more stairway above this bell, and you're at the top.
Duck through one more doorway, and you're on top of Amsterdam!
The city's insignia on the side of the Westertoren.
One little problem -- they only allow 10 minutes on the outdoor platform before you have to begin the trip down. 10 minutes isn't a lot of time when you take as many pictures as I do. I had to work quickly.
I'll share some of my favorites from another nice view over Amsterdam. It's much different from the A'DAM Toren, where you're way north of the central part of the city.
Here, you're basically right atop the canals -- and you can look down at the boats as they pass by.
A bridge below the Westertoren.
The open area in front of the church is the Westermarkt, and this bridge carries the Rozengracht road west from there.
Houseboats on the canal.
Looking northwest, and enjoying the view of the canal houses about as far as the eye can see.
In this picture: pedestrians, bikes, boats. Not in this picture: cars.
Do the Dutch lead the world in interesting buildings? They just might.
Looking north, toward the A'DAM Toren.
You can really see the swings in action from this angle.
The round dome of the Koepelkerk, a former Lutheran church building.
A wide view east toward the center of the city.
Here's one big advantage to doing an evening tour with clear skies -- with the sun to the west, and the central part of the city to the east, everything was lit up perfectly.
There's the central station...
...and the old Basilica of Saint Nicholas, backed by a modern Movenpick hotel. More fun with architectural contrast.
The steeple of De Oude Kerk.
Looking into the very center of Amsterdam.
You can see the tops of De Nieuwe Kerk and Magna Plaza in this picture...
...and the Royal Palace and the Magna Plaza tower in this one.
A wide view southeast.
This cluster of skyscrapers is part of a business district about 5 miles south of downtown Amsterdam on the Amstel River.
The tallest one, on the left, is the Rembrandttoren -- named after the famous Dutch painter.
Here's the view south on this amazing July evening.
Another big church...
...another weird building.
The Rijksmuseum makes another appearance...
...as does the Zuidas business district.
Like many big European cities, the tallest of the modern skyscrapers are kept away from the historic downtown core.
Oh, and perhaps this is one of those storms we skipped out on after we left Toverland.
A little cloud porn to end the photo set.
We climbed down the tower, and I chatted a bit with the guide, who was hoping to visit some theme parks in the US at some point in the near future. I hope she made it!
With that, I was off to my second destination.
No, my second destination was not Phantasialand -- nor was it on the agenda for the trip.
I'm just going to take this opportunity to note that Temple of the Night Hawk is so incredibly terrible that it may be the only coaster on the planet that VR actually improves.
Instead, it was back on the tram to head a little further west.
Ryan S had also headed into Amsterdam to visit a museum, and we agreed to meet up here later in the evening.
Here's our destination -- a place called Foodhallen.
Can you guess what kind of place it is?
Yep, if I'm not at a theme park or climbing to some kind of high point, I'm visiting a food hall.
And this one was /spectacular/.
It's obviously not the architectural marvel that Rotterdam's Markthal is, but I actually preferred the restaurant selection here. Quite a lively atmosphere, too -- it was a Saturday evening and the place was absolutely packed.
Once we found a seat upstairs, Ryan and I took turns getting small orders from a bunch of different places around the hall. Tapas, Vietnamese, burgers, Chinese, tacos, pizza, sandwiches, desserts -- it was hard to decide.
Bicycle-as-a-decoration is very Amsterdam.
Foodhallen isn't as well known as other attractions in Amsterdam, perhaps because it's not right in the center of the city, nor is it along one of the Metro lines.
It's well worth taking a tram (or a long walk) and checking out, though. It's one of my favorite food halls that I've been to anywhere. Maybe don't go on Saturday night, though.
With that, we hopped on a tram, then hopped on the Metro, and got back to the hotel. Another big day of coastering was coming up. That's the end of Part 4 ... and the end of all the Amsterdam stuff.
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