By Iain Coupar
For those of you who travel on business frequently will often or not find yourself in a new City with a few hours or even longer to spare. Many of my business trips these days mean at least one overnight stay but mostly it’s not all work or meetings. So what do you do if you find you have a few hours or sometimes longer to spare – either in-between meetings, a break during a conference or even a wait until you can catch your flight home.
I’ve recently returned from a 24-hr business trip to Amsterdam where I found myself with a few hours to spare due to my return flight schedule.
I arrived in Amsterdam early evening and caught the train from the airport into the city centre. I’d recommend using the train as it’s quick, frequent and great value for money. It also takes you straight into the heart of the city too. This was ideal for me as I was staying downtown.
Once I had checked in I was straight back out again. That’s one good thing about Amsterdam – there is always something to see or do – day or night. After a quick bite to eat I headed up towards the Ice Bar. This has to be one of Amsterdam’s coolest spots – and not only due to the temperature. The bar’s temperature is a cool -10°C so they give you a warm parka to wear and you sit drinking amongst some fabulous ice sculptures. Your entry ticket – which you must book online first so you can choose your approximate entry time – also entitles you to three free drinks and one of them is a cocktail! The Ice Bar stays open until 1am which was way late enough for me since I had an early start the next day.
I was up early the following day and after a hearty breakfast in my hotel I headed off for my first meetings – all of which were central and close to the main attractions, points of interest and railway station. I knew my meetings would be finished by mid-day or early afternoon leaving me a few hours until my evening flight home – enough time I guessed for sightseeing and exploring.
As I thought, I was clear by 1pm, leaving me at least 5 hours until I needed to head to the airport but the question was what to do with my time? I grabbed a quick hotdog and headed into the Tours & Ticket office which is situated Damrak – one of the City’s main streets. They were quick to suggest a few things to do but since the sun was shining and was pleasant out I opted to take the hop-on hop-off open top bus tour. This would give me the opportunity to hop-off the bus and explore some of Amsterdam’s areas, grab a coffee and just relax for 20-minutes if I wanted.
I decided to upgrade my sightseeing bus tour ticket to a combo ticket. There are several great sightseeing combo ticket options available and I opted for the Rijksmuseum combo. I had read recently about the Museum’s €375m renovation and was keen to check out some of it’s 8000+ exhibits. The bus tour really was good and the recorded commentary – which is available in 18 languages – gave me good insight into the City and its history. I dually jumped off at the Rijksmuseum and spent an hour or so taking in as much as I could but promised myself I’d come back the next time I was in town.
It was back on the bus for the final leg of the tour. The main sightseeing bus stop is right outside the central station and very convenient for me and my train back to the airport.
As I sat relaxing in the airport lounge waiting on my flight to be called I reflected on a whirlwind 24-hours in Amsterdam. I felt I had achieved so much – both productively with my business meetings but also managed to squeeze in some tourist sightseeing too. But the more I thought about it, I had really only scratched the surface as there is so much else to see and do in Amsterdam. I must really go back!
Iain Coupar is managing director of CityXplora. Iain has spent the past two decades travelling extensively with business so is always keen to maximise his time and take advantage of what is around him. When he can, he will explore and make the most of his trips away from home – often returning at a later date with his family to stay longer and explore more.