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The Dutch cloud that looks like…Great Britain?

The Netherlands with its flat landscape is renowned for its dramatic low skies occasionally offering some spectacular cloud formations. We spotted this remarkable cloud somewhere south of Amsterdam a while ago and couldn’t believe what we were seeing -  a near perfect representation of Great Britain with a bit of northern France and Scandinavia thrown in. It was almost like watching a giant BBC weather map in the sky!gb-cloud-holland

By the time we found a camera to take the photo the wind had blown some of North Wales into England. But you will agree that the cloud shows East Anglia and Scotland rather well plus an elongated Cornwall and possibly a heart-shaped Channel Islands.

With Scotland going to the polls today to decide whether to become independent from the UK we thought we’d post this for a bit of light-hearted fun. We will be interested to see if the name “Great Britain” (the island comprising England, Scotland and Wales) will remain if Scotland votes Yes.

Photo © 2014 AmsterdamTips.com – can be republished with attribution link.

© 2014 AmsterdamTips.com

Blokker NS train day ticket offer Aug 2014

Dutch household chain Blokker is again offering a 1 day off-peak ticket (dal vrij dagkaart) in conjunction with NS (Dutch Railways) for unlimited train travel in Netherlands for just €14.95.

blokker ns train ticket

These day tickets are available for purchase at Blokker stores in the Netherlands until 7th September 2014, subject to availability. Online purchase is also possible at blokker.nl with payment accepted by iDeal (Dutch internet banking), Mastercard or Visa. You can pick-up the ticket(s) for free at a specified Blokker store or get free delivery to a Dutch address as long as the order is greater than €20.

The tickets are valid for 1 day’s rail travel between 25th August and 5th October 2014 and are in the form of a disposable OV-chip card. Since July it has been mandatory to use the OV-chip card on Dutch railways.

For travel on NS trains you must check-in and check-out using one of the card readers near the platforms. For travel on other train providers (Arriva, Breng, Connexxion, Syntus and Veolia) you should date stamp the card at one of the stamping machines.

During the week (Mon-Fri) you are not allowed to check-in during the peak hours 0630-0900 or 1600-1830. You are able to check-in before 0630 and then travel during peak hours. Note, the other (non-NS) providers do not allow travel during the peak hours.

There are no time restrictions for use at weekends though be aware that rail works are often scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Domestic travel is also valid on Intercity Direct (Schiphol-Rotterdam) and ICE International trains (Amsterdam-Utrecht-Arnhem) with the appropriate supplement. No travel is permitted on the Thalys trains.

There are a number of Blokker stores in Amsterdam including at:

Kalverstraat 41 (main shopping street)
Ferdinand Bolstraat 100
Kinkerstraat 260-262
Bilderdijkstraat 169
Jodenbreestraat 19
Haarlemmerdijk 72-74
Jan van Galenstraat 107A
Ceintuurbaan 302
Ceintuurbaan 109A
Spaarndammerstraat 99-105
2e Nassaustraat 25A-B
Mercatorplein 88

These tickets can offer superb value, especially if heading to some of the outlying cities in Netherlands such as Groningen or Maastricht. They are also very good for making multiple stops at different places during the day.

Amsterdam Deals 2014

Here we will list any good deals or discounts for Amsterdam (attractions, things-to-do, travel and transport) that we come across.

*The Museumkaart (Museum Card) costs €59.90 (€32.45 for children 0-18) and offers free entry for 12 months into around 400 museums in Netherlands. This includes the main museum attractions in Amsterdam – Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank House, Hermitage, Stedelijk and Maritime Museum. The card should pay for itself after about 4 visits. See here for more details.

amsterdam deals

*The Iamsterdam City Card is a pass aimed at tourists and costs €47 (24 hours), €57 (48 hours) and €67 (72 hours). It offers free one-time entry into a number of Amsterdam attractions and includes a GVB transport (trams/metro/buses) pass for the card duration. On top of this you get 25% discount at various other attractions, restaurants and shows for the rest of the year.

*Half-price theatre show tickets for Amsterdam are made available on-the-day via the Last Minute Ticket Shop from 10am. These tickets can be bought at the outlet at the side of Stadschouwburg on Leidseplein, the tourist information office outside central station or at the OBA central library. Alternatively you can book online. Look for shows marked “LNP” (Language No Problem) – a maximum of 2 tickets can be bought per transaction.

*If you go to the GVB Tickets & Info outside Amsterdam central station, pick up the leaflet “Amsterdam Tram Bus Metro Ferry” – at the back of the leaflet you will find some coupons offering small discounts to various museums and atractions – including the Amsterdam ArenA tours, Madame Tussauds, Heineken Experience, Amsterdam Dungeon and the Gray Line canal cruise.

Time-sensitive discounts

*September is traditionally discount month at Royal Artis Zoo – print out this voucher (Dutch) at the Artis website and you can get 25% off entry to Artis for up to 4 people during September. This means adults would pay €14.95 (normally €19.95) and kids aged 3-9 pay €12.25 (normally €16.50).

*(EXPIRED) GVB public transport is offering some discounts until the end of July if you buy one of its Amsterdam travel day cards. The standard 1 day card is €7.50, the kids day card is €2.50. Discounts offered by presenting the card are €2.50 off entrance at Artis Royal Zoo, €3 off entry to Stedelijk (modern art museum), and €6 off kids entry into the Art of the Brick (Lego) exhibition at Amsterdam Expo. Offer is valid to 31 July 2014.

See our detailed overview of public transport tickets in Amsterdam to find out which is the best ticket deal for you.

* (EXPIRED) The newly opened 3-star Volks hotel in the east of Amsterdam is offering all double rooms for just €69 until 31 July 2014. Volks hotel includes the Canvas rooftop café-restaurant and club.

For more ideas, also check out our on-the-cheap in Amsterdam section.

New Museumplein Ticket – Museums and Concerts

The Museumplein ticket is a newly launched premium combi-ticket which provides special access to the cultural heart of Amsterdam. The ticket costs €90 and remains valid for use until the end of the calender year.museumplein ticket

The ticket gives fast-lane entry to the 3 main museums on Museumplein – Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk and Van Gogh museum. It also offers a ticket to any concert at the nearby Concertgebouw, renowned for its excellent acoustics. This includes concerts of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Museumplein ticket holders get admission even if the shows are officially sold out, as some seats will be held in reserve.

museumplein

The ticket can be purchased at various top hotels in Amsterdam including Conservatorium Hotel, The Dylan Amsterdam and Hotel De L’Europe. See a full listing of 5-star hotels in Amsterdam here. Later in the summer it will be available for sale over-the-counter at the Museumplein Pavilion.

Normal entry into each of the 3 museums costs €15 and a concert at the Concertgebouw ranges from €20 to €60. For sheer convenience and with its priority entry, we can see this ticket appealing to the higher end of the tourist market.

An alternative would be to buy an annual Museumkaart (€60, effectively fast lane entry to Van Gogh museum and Rijksmuseum) and book your own concert ticket in advance.