Wednesday, January 27, 2010

28 Hours in Amsterdam

This past weekend I decided to take advantage of the off-season low travel fares and take a quick hop over to Amsterdam for a visit. I took this trip for many reasons, but the main reasons were to:
  1. Force myself out of my comfort zone
  2. Rack up an additional 10,000+ frequent flyer miles
  3. Visit the Anne Frank House and Museum
  4. Have some good European food!
So with those goals in mind I set out on my adventure. Since (the new) Delta airlines is consolidating the previous Northwest Airlines hubs around the nation, Bemidji Airport was selected to continue--and expand--operations, so I was able to book a flight from Bemidji to Amsterdam (connecting in Minneapolis, of course) in one ticket, and at a great price. I booked my flight, secured a small room in a cheap Amsterdam hotel online, and packed my backpack. BTW, traveling light is part of my new RRR strategy (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) - another goal of mine for 2010. * Travel Tip: Avoid checking luggage--stick with carry-on bags: you'll save money, learn to pack simply, and bypass the baggage claim!

I flew to Minneapolis, had a short layover, boarded my overnight flight to Amsterdam on the A330 Airbus--one of my favorite jets--and since the flight was only 75% occupied I was able to re-seat myself as soon as the cabin door was closed. (*Hint: I will write another entry about "tips for flying happiness" in a future posting) Naturally, I chose a window seat with an unoccupied seat next to me so I had elbow room. Did you know you can do that? Just ask a flight attendant if you have questions. *Travel Tip: For more information about which seats rock and which do not, visit

The flight to Amsterdam was excellent! Why? Because I chose my aircraft wisely - the A330 Airbus has a personal in-flight video system for every passenger (movies, music, and more!); you get two complimentary meals (dinner and a morning snack on all international overnight flights); and all sodas, wine and beer are free. It's like flying First Class on a Coach ticket. I arrived in Amsterdam the next morning, hopped on a train from the airport to the city center, and then walked to my hotel. * Travel Tip: When possible take trains and walk... much cheaper than driving, plus it's better exercise and more difficult to get lost when you're walking!

When I arrived at my hotel, I checked in, grabbed my camera, and went for a walk. Today I was headed towards my "tourist destination of the day" - the Anne Frank House. Now the Anne Frank House has an amazing history and even though I'd been through Amsterdam 5 or 6 times throughout my travels, I'd never had a chance to visit the house and museum. So this was my day to do it. In addition, I'd promised my friend Shawn and my niece Natalie that I'd get them each a brochure from the tour. Incidentally, Shawn is playing the part of Anne's brother, Peter, in the production of Diary of Anne Frank at Park Square Theater in St. Paul this winter. Go check it out!

The tour of the Anne Frank House was very powerful and moving. I wasn't allowed to take snapshots inside the house so they can preserve the integrity of the original wood, paint and wallpaper. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the self-guided tour, attention to detail in the museum, and all of the informational placards and videos installed throughout the building. It was a very touching experience and it reminding me how important our families and friends are to us... in Anne's case, how friends and family came together to love and support one another in a time of great panic and fear. I left the museum feeling grateful and thankful for my family and the fact that I don't have to live in fear as Anne and her family did during the war. * Travel Tip: Use contrast to instill an attitude of gratitude.

That evening I had a light dinner, did a little more souvenir shopping, and got back to my hotel early to do some writing and listen to music. I'm always stimulated creatively when I travel - it's part of exploring the world! As a traveler, I've often think about the benefits of travel (at least for me), and I imagine that any change of environment is good for anyone - a change in perspective brings insight and introspection. This trip helped me to keep my wheels turning and the gears of my creative spirit from getting rusty. After all, I've gotta keep moving... I'm Michael on the Move :o)

Get on the move and experience the world!

Mr. Michael