Four days is probably all you need to see Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherland. Also, Amsterdam is a good place to start an European tour, as many European cities, Brussels, Frankfurt, are accessible via train from Amsterdam.
I arrived in Amsterdam on December 31, remember buses and trains run until 20:00 on the last day of the year; the service resumes at 2:00 on January 1.
As I had to catch a flight to my final destination, I decided to avoid dragging my luggage to the city center; so I booked a room at the Sheraton Hotel, easily accessible from the arrival halls of the Amsterdam city airport, Schiphol. As a Starwood Preferred Guest, the two bed room cost me 127 euro per night.
Not only transportation to city center was easy and cheap, 3.70 euro + .50 handling charges, but also I could get to Amsterdam Metropolitan or anywhere in Netherlands from the airport hotel. I visited Haarlem, 4.80 + .50, a serene city with a beautiful train station. Obtaining the ticket is possible from the ticket machines as well as ticket offices. Either way there is an extra charge of .50 added to the price. It's important to know the final destination of the train, for example trains traveling to Hoofdrop stop in Schiphol, so on the train Hoofdrop is displayed. Also, it is good to pay attention to the station names, as some trains don't have stop announcements! The ticket operators usually issue a second class ticket, by default if you want a first class train ticket, better seats, ask! The class written in big letters in the train box.
How to get around Amsterdam? There are many fun and exciting options to explore this city: bike-boat (you pedal your way around the canals, seats max four people), canal-buses, on foot/public transit, with a bicycle or hop-on-hop-off buses. Prices vary. I tried on-foot/public transit and the canal-buses. The Tourist Office across from the Amsterdam Central Train station is the one-stop shop to get information about transportation, obtain a map for 2.50 euro, purchase canal bus tickets, and/or iamsterdam city card.
Touring Amsterdam: Perfect starting point as a Tourist Information Center is located right across the station. I got my free map from the hotel; at the tourist center the city maps cost 2.50 euro.
To make the best out of the four-days-stay prioritizing was key. I like walking the streets of the city the first day to get a feel of the city streets and sights whereabouts. I walked along the best-known shopping streets: Leidsestraat, Hiligeweg, Klaverstraat, and Nieuwendijk. I stopped at Dam Square to take pictures, and visit the Royal Palace. I also ventured in Bijankorf (which means the beehive) and is Netherland's most famous department store. My final station and the goal of this walking tour was Van Gogh Museum.
The museum was home to many of the artist's early days work, works of his collaborators, as well as works of those artists that Ted Van Gogh, Vincent's brother purchased and added to the family collection. In the "Potato Eaters" Vincent depicts a family of five sitting at table in a very dark room eating. The artist, according to the caption made a mistake in showing both the side and back of the chair.
The Van Gogh Museum is situated in the Amsterdam's Museum District. In the vicinity you can find treasures of the Golden Age at the Rijksmuseum, the master pieces of the 19th-century artists at the , the arts of the 20th century and beyond at the Stedelijk Museum, and one of the most famous concert halls of the world, Concertgebouw. [January 2012 The Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk are under renovation - Grand re-opening is scheduled for 2013]
You can find the history of bags and purses from the three era of old, recent and contemporary on the three-levels of The Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam. The museum is on the way to Anne Frank House. There are bags from Louis Vouiton 1960 and Chanel 1980 as well as the history of why bags came to existence and how the small sachets to hold trinkets have evolved over the years and influenced our lives.
I took a one-day canal tour. Although, it was an interesting, and different experience but I prefer walking the city streets or taking the tram, as I got better view of the city and for taking pictures.
Here are some pictures I took during my trip: