LucireLucire home page / Fashion / / Volante: travel features and news / Living / Lucire: Insider blog
News headlines / Lucire Reader Forum / Subscribe to the print editions of Lucire
Lucire Community 
Lucire feedback 
Subscribe to the Lucire Insider feed
Subscribe to Lucire

volante: the netherlands

Dutch on the fly
Dutch on the fly

Amsterdam canal


You cannot go around the world in a day, but you can get a taste of it with a stopover in Amsterdam by Elyse Glickman
photographed by the author

Expanded from issue 23 of Lucire


WHEN I LEARNED I was booked on KLM for a business trip to Europe, I realized I had the option to enjoy a stay—an exceedingly brief one—in Amsterdam. Given memories of a past trip—save for a brownie that would never be sold in my local Starbucks pastry case—the prospect of a mini-Amsterdam vacation was beyond alluring. Although I later learned current airline rules make extending a stopover in Amsterdam next to impossible (believe me, I tried, and you could plan a week’s vacation with a savvy travel agent for what the stopover fee would cost), I decided to soldier on and experience all of (a Dutch) summer in a day.

As I arrived in mid-afternoon, it was clear that hitting the museums would be next to impossible, and there would barely be enough time to shop (most stores shut down tight at 6 P.M.). I decided the best way to experience the 18-hour layover was with an open mind, open eyes, my camera and a very comfy pair of shoes. After I stored most of my luggage inside a special locker area at Schiphol Airport, my “vacation” began with a quick 20-minute ride into the city, taking in the ambiance as I arrived at Centraal Station. From there, I walked down the Damrak and then took the scenic route toward the Sofitel Amsterdam, a worth-the-money indulgence that combines a historic building, an unbeatable location along the tram route, an amazing breakfast buffet and one of the most competent concierge staffs I have ever encountered. When I informed them I was staying just one night, they bent over backwards to decipher maps and make sure every moment of my stay would be memorable. (If your budget is more modest, check out or for perfectly wonderful independently owned bed-and-breakfast establishments at great prices.)

Once my small tote bag of overnight necessities was squared away, I ventured past the canals and into the youth-driven Singel neighbourhood, brimming with funky boutiques, Indian shops and more than a handful of coffee houses. Crossing back through affluent Herengracht, I discovered that the city itself was a living museum, with canal houses that refer to every major architectural phase in European history, from the simple, dignified styles of the 1600s to the elaborate baroque homes from the late 18th century to fluid Victorian and Belle Époque influences. I also took advantage of one of the many canal tours that enabled me to learn quite a bit of history in less than two hours and enjoy the views of the homes and the city’s famously carefree lifestyle.

By the time the boat ride was over, there was just an hour left to check out Holland’s retail scene. Thanks to Sofitel Amsterdam’s location, I was at the doorstep of the impressive Magna Mall, which houses a good cross section of Holland’s trendiest chain stores as well as some upscale boutiques, yes, an incredible historic building. I also took mental note of stores I vowed to hit on the next visit including D.E.P.T. Store (beautifully made and decently priced trendy clothing—I got there just in time to snap up a cute embroidered tee to wear out to dinner), Claudia Sträter and Laundry Industry (both shops featuring gorgeous, perfect-for-the-office career-wear). After another stop back at the hotel to freshen up and make my travel-worn hair somewhat presentable, I took the tram to Leidesplein for dinner.

In contrast to my past experience of the Leidseplein (in the middle of winter), the place was now the biggest, best food court on Earth, with all kinds of exotic aromas wafting about and an international array of cuisines ranging from Argentinean steaks, to pizza, to every stripe of Asian cooking. Hoping to recreate a wonderful Rijsttafels experience I just could not get in the States, I headed over to the widely recommended Puri Mas (Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 37–41), a clean, family-owned establishment that has delighted locals and tourists alike since 1989. My expectations were more than met with an elaborate spicy and flavourful meal, along with opportunities to chat with diners from around the world. Once full, I walked around the streets surrounding Leidseplein to survey the different clubs and other dining opportunities—yes—for future reference. With sunlight lasting until 10.30, there was ample opportunity to quickly pass by the Royal Palace and Nieuwe Kerk as the final rays of daylight hit, creating a sky echoing the legendary paintings of the Dutch Masters.

Though I got myself up early the next morning, I only had about four hours to take in Amsterdam’s joie de vivre before catching the train to Schiphol. The early morning skies were optimal for great photos along the canals, so I ventured via a zig-zag route of canals to the area of the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk, and then walked up and down Prinsengracht and Herengracht to see the best canal houses in the city against clear blue skies. After a quick jaunt to the Blœmenmarkt to tip-toe through the tulips, it was time, alas, to grab my things, tram it to Centraal Station. Thanks to the efficiency of the trains, I had just enough time to visit Schiphol’s “Holland Street” which features an airport “branch” of the Rijksmuseum with a focus on Rembrandt, in observance of his 400th birthday.

As crazy as it seemed for me to plan an 18-hour vacation, I realized as I departed for LA that I was not alone. In my materials from the Amsterdam Tourism and Convention Board, it was reported that over 15 million people every year make Amsterdam a day trip destination. But honestly, after the 18-hour whirlwind, it is clear that 15 million people cannot be wrong. •


Read the print version of this article featuring photographs by Douglas Rimington.


Add to | Digg it



Magna Plaza shopping mall, Amsterdam










Related articles
Lucire 2007 | The Global Fashion Magazine The culinary traveller
Stanley Moss heads to Normandie, with an insider’s tip to one of the best properties in the region
photographed by the author and courtesy Château d’Audrieu
Lucire 2005 | The Global Fashion Magazine Five days in Manhattan
Douglas Rimington spends five days in New York, finding his preconceptions shattered
photographed by the author
Expanded from issue 21 of Lucire