Haarlem – Amsterdam, Netherlands
We had booked up our flight already and planned to take the train out and had two nights in Amsterdam to plan for. Quickly it was becoming evident that hotel accommodation in the city was going to be very expensive as compared to other destinations and even other European major cities.
We researched the areas around Amsterdam but didn’t want to be in some outer suburb so we opted for a charming as can be town about 15 minutes train ride (if that) to Amsterdam Centraal. Haarlem is a destination in and of itself we found out.
We stayed at the Hotel Carillon on the Grot Markt and couldn’t have been happier with our selection. It was reasonably priced (as compared to Amsterdam) and was very clean and convenient. There was a fair going on in the square during our visit which was quite fun to see. Great waffles and screaming kids in the fun house were quite nice to experience.
The hotel was a short two stops along via bus from the Haarlem Central Station or you could walk it – which we did after the first time. Hotel staff were terrific and there is a great cafe on the ground floor for perfect relaxing indoors or out and the best people watching. There is no lift which is not uncommon and Dutch stairs often are more like ladders and therefore we weren’t surprised when we found there was no lift and the stairs were quite like a ladder. My size 12 shoes had to go up and down sideways on the steps.
Haarlem itself has plenty to see and lots of little alleys and winding roads spinning off the Grot Markt. On the south side there is a large canal with lots of shops in between and to the north there is the central station with lots more shops. There are several districts with restaurants and pubs and cafes. The food and atmosphere far exceeded our expectations.
I’ll post separately about Amsterdam itself but suffice to say it was quick and cheap to get there from Haarlem. In fact, the next visit we’re already planning and will definitely stay in a town near Amsterdam but not in it. The money saved was well worth spending on a great dinner and other things.