Best travel portal on the web featuring best travel sites, travel packages, travel guides, travel tips, weekly travel newsletter, travel webcams, and much more!
July 19, 2006

Travel Deals * Website of the Week

Web Cams * Travel News

WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

HOUSE KEEPING: Remember when you click on the pictures in "Where's Johnny Jet," they will open up in another window. Just click the "x"(close) in each picture to get back to the newsletter. This should alleviate complaints about closing Johnny Jet. Thanks again for your support, and remember: If you book trips on the web, please go through (It will save you money).

"Maps of Johnny's travels courtesy of Start a travel website of your own for free now."

Web Resources




Choose the right pass




Need a credit card that gives you miles/points? Click the card below that fits your needs.

AAdvantage® MasterCard®

Alaska Airlines Visa®

Continental Airlines MasterCard®

WorldPerks® Visa®

United Mileage Plus Visa

US Airways® Visa

Delta SkyMiles® AMEX

Hawaiian Airlines® Visa®

JetBlue From AMEX®

Asiana Visa®

British Airways Visa®

Mexicana® Airlines Visa®




click here for your Go Card




click here for your Go Card

Hotel reservationHotel, bed and breakfast,
Guests: Rooms:



Hallo from the Netherlands -- or Holland, a region that many people use to refer to the entire country. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to travel to at least 10 new countries this year. The Netherlands makes 3. I know I’m lagging, but I’m about to go on a tear. Last week (here’s the link to the archives) we finished off in Scotland, where I visited for the second time in eight weeks. I felt badly going back to Europe two months later, and traveling only to the same countries (I was also in France and England, following the Da Vinci Code Tour). But after filming a pilot TV show my brother Frank and I jumped on a low-fare carrier to Amsterdam. We’re here to check out this city that has so much more to offer than its famous red light district. This place is full of canals, bridges, boats, bicycles, museums, history, charm, and of course flowers. If you want to come for this weekend getaway, grab your walking shoes and your sense of smell because we are in Amsterdam! Yeah baby! (If you’re in a hurry or have ADD, don’t worry; there’s a 2-minute Johnny Jet video at the end of this week’s story.)

My brother and I flew here on easyJet. I bought my one-way ticket for $117 a couple of weeks before the trip (usually the further ahead you book in advance, the better price you get). My brother bought his ticket just a couple days before departure, and it was still relatively cheap: $150. You gotta love discount carriers! Unfortunately, my ticket quickly added up to what Frank paid because -- as I predicted -- easyJet nailed me on the extra baggage fee (most low fare carriers have strict baggage rules). I had to pay 15 pounds ($28), because my bag was just over the 20 kilo (44 pounds) limit. I don’t usually travel with such a heavy bag, but I had to carry extra clothes for the TV show.

easyJet does not assign seating -- it’s like Southwest (though Southwest is now assigning seats on some routes), with open seats and an A, B, C, D boarding process. We wanted to check in early so we could get an A or B boarding card. Being among the first to board pretty much guarantees two seats together, and enough space in the overhead for carry-on bags. We got both. The plane was a new Airbus 319; we took off on time; the flight attendants were cool, and the flight was a smooth 1 hour and 10 minutes. Good thing it was a short flight, because EasyJet’s fare are so inexpensive they charge for practically everything – even soda and bottled water.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is the fourth largest in Europe. It serves 240 cities in 85 countries around the world. The place is huge -- almost like a city, with so many restaurants, stores and diverse people in this monster structure. Unlike in America, if international passengers are transferring through to another flight they don’t need to go through passport control. That’s good thing, because the line at passport control took 30 minutes – it was long and slow. Interestingly, "Schiphol" means "hull of ships." That’s because the airport used to be a lake -- it’s 4.5 meters below sea level -- and when they dredged it – they found an old ship.

One of the best things about traveling in Europe is that many airports are linked by direct train service to the city -- a fast and inexpensive way to get there. In Amsterdam, passengers can buy tickets at either a window or a yellow ticket machine for € 3.60 ($4.55). Trains operate between Schiphol and Amsterdam Central Station about every 10 minutes, and the ride takes only 10 minutes too. Here’s a link to the schedule.

I stayed at the NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. It was established in 1866 by a Polish tailor, Adolf Wilhelm Krasnapolski. The 468-room hotel is not the nicest or most famous hotel in Amsterdam but it is centrally located in the historic area, and right in the hustle and bustle of Dam Square. The Krasnapolsky is surrounded by department stores, boutiques and shopping alleys, and is just an 8-minute walk from the Central Rail Station. The Krasnapolsky is listed as a 5- star luxurious hotel, but I would rate it 4 stars. The place is in need of renovation, and the service was not of 5-star caliber. However, Frank and I were in a newer section of the hotel and our room was good size, with a clean bathroom and a working desk that had access to wireless internet ($5.88 for 30 minutes). Because we were there over a weekend, and because of its central location the management left a note on each guest’s bed apologizing in advance for the loud noise we might experience. The note also included a pair of ear plugs, and two coupons for free drinks in the hotel bar. I had no problem sleeping, and would definitely stay there again. Room rates are from 189 € ($238) to 850 € ($1,074). NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Dam 9, 1012 JS Amsterdam, Amsterdam; tel.: 31-20-5549111;

Amsterdam is like no city I have ever been to. The city is full of history, charm, bridges, canals and legalized marijuana and prostitution. A great way to explore and learn about it for the first time is to hire a private guide, or have a local friend show you around. Luckily, I had both. If you want a professional guide, one of the best (according to the Netherlands Tourist Board) is Yvonne Zumpolle. She grew up in Holland and speaks Dutch, French, German, Italian and English. Yvonne gave us a great in-depth walking tour of the city. We learned how it was founded as a fishing village around 1270 along the banks of the Amstel River. We heard about the Golden Age (17th century) when Amsterdam was one of the richest cities in Europe, and wealthy merchants built beautiful houses that still line the canals today. And we learned how the German troops occupied the city during World War II. They deported more than 100,000 Jews – almost the entire Jewish population. To learn more about the most famous Dutch Jew, visit the Anne Frank Museum.

Yvonne said that Amsterdam has more canals than Venice, and more bridges than Paris. Who knew? I also had no idea the city is made up of 90 small islands. For more Amsterdam info and history, click here. COST: Yvonne charges 125€ ($158) for a half day (up to 4 hours), 190€ ($240) for a full day (up to 9 hours). Yvonne’s telephone number is: 31-50-31-13-177; her e-mail is:

Amsterdam is an amazing place. Besides its physical charms, what really makes this city is the people. Over 170 nationalities are represented, but almost everyone speaks English and seems to get along. The Dutch are not overly friendly, but they are courteous and happy to help a lost tourist. The Dutch are also very tall people. Walking around the streets, I felt short – and I’m 6 feet tall! I read that the average height for adult males (5-11) and females (5-6) makes them the tallest people in the world. The Dutch are also probably some of the toughest. Frank and I met my friend Petra for dinner. Walking back to her bike to say goodnight, it started to pour – and it was cold and windy. When we offered to get her a taxi for the 3-mile trip home she laughed and said, "I’m not made of sugar. We (the Dutch) ride our bikes in all types of weather."

Speaking of which, biking is a way of life in Amsterdam. The ground in The Netherlands is very flat, and the country has are over 11,000 miles of bike paths. The population of Amsterdam is 740,000 – and there 600,000 bicycles! (Similarly, there are 16,299,000 residents in The Netherlands, and over 13 million bicycles.) Practically everyone here rides — even Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. There are even multi-level parking lots just for bicycles. Is that awesome?

The Dutch are also famous for their liberal reputations and live-and-let-live attitude. I had heard stories about the city’s legalized marijuana and prostitution, but had no idea what that would be like. I wondered if drugs and prostitutes would be all over town, or in just one area. Would the red light district (De Wallen) be dirty and unsafe? After Frank and I checked into our hotel, we went for a walk. We took the first two lefts out of our hotel, and were walking down a nice street by a tree-lined canal. We had no idea where we were headed as we dodged bicyclist after bicyclist. I said to Frank, “I wonder where the red light district is” -- and the next thing you know, I smelled marijuana. We were on the outskirts of it. Many of the over 300 “coffee shops” that are licensed to sell small amounts of marijuana, hashish and related soft drugs -- are located in or near the Red Light District. Laws are tight. All patrons must be at least 18 years old and they can’t buy no more than 5 grams at a time. You can’t buy cocaine or any other hard drugs, and selling any drug (including marijuana) in the streets is illegal. Most people don’t smoke in public, but I did get stuck behind a young Brit weekend tourist smoking a joint the size of a small cigar, as he and his friends harassed one prostitute after another. I almost got high from walking into the huge cloud that followed him. By the way: These coffee houses don’t serve alcohol … just coffee and marijuana.

A great place to have coffee is at Café de Jaren (tel.: 31-20-625-5771). This place, with high ceilings and a multi-color tiled mosaic floor, is full of beautiful people.

In Amsterdam, prostitutes rent out tiny one-room apartments (there are several hundred of them). Most have full-size glass windows, and the bikini- or lingerie-clad girls that range from 18 to way too old to sit on stools or standing in windows so they are on full display for anyone walking by. They’re almost like zoo animals, out there day and night. A few of the women are drop-dead gorgeous, while some are on the far other side of the spectrum. The rooms have curtains; if they’re shut, they are either sleeping or doing you-know-what. Walking around the few streets and alleys that this area covers felt surreal – almost like we were in a movie. It wasn’t really dirty or dingy, and the people walking by could be found on the really nice streets of Amsterdam. I even saw a tour group of middle-aged Italian women. I had more fun looking at their reactions than seeing the prostitutes. This place is almost as much of a tourist destination as the Van Gogh museum. And, like the Van Gogh museum, pictures are strictly forbidden.

Frank and I had the "I amsterdam Card." It’s like the City Pass or Go Cards found in other cities. If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, it’s worth your while to purchase one. The card offers free admission to some of the most important museums in Amsterdam, plus a free canal boat tour and use of public transport. It also offers a 25% discount on various tourist attractions and restaurants. The card is available for either 24 hours (€33 = $41), 48 hours (€43 = $54) or 72 hours (€53 = $67). For more information, log on to

Frank and I used the card for a 75-minute canal cruise aboard Rederij Noord-Zuid (the blue boat company). This is probably the most touristy thing to do in Amsterdam, but it’s a great way to relax and take in beautiful views of the city. A computerized audio system acts as the guide, using four languages (English is of course one). It’s kind of annoying to hear all the other languages, so to escape get one of the few seats outside in the back of the boat -– especially on a nice day. Cruises depart every half hour from April to October; 10 a.m. to 6 or 9 pm (depending on the month). Without the card, the price for adults is € 9.50 ($12); children (5 to 12 yrs) and 65+: € 5.50 ($7). Children under 4 are free.

Amsterdam boasts 40 museums, a few of them world famous. This year marks the 400th anniversary of Dutch master painter Rembrandt van Rijn’s (1606-1669) birth. We could have seen Rembrandt’s work at the Rembrandt House Museum, but instead we paid our respects in Rembrandt Square. That’s the site of a larger-than-life statue of him, and a life-size bronze recreation of his famous painting "The Night Watch."

For our one museum visit Frank and I chose the Van Gogh museum. Our I Amsterdam Card gave us free entry, and a shorter line (we waited only 10 minutes to get in). I love most of Vincent Van Gogh’s (1853-1880) work, and this museum houses his largest collection: more than 200 paintings, 437 drawings and 31 prints. It’s mind boggling that Van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime. The Van Gogh Museum is open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Fridays until 10 p.m.); closed January 1. Admission: Adults €10 ($12.50); ages 13 to 17 € 2.50 ($3); 12 and under get in free.

Amsterdam has over 1,000 restaurants, with nearly every cuisine imaginable. The first night Frank, Petra and I went for Indonesian food at a place called Pelangi (tel.: 31-20-420-0670) in Rembrandt Square. There are many Indonesian restaurants, because the population is more than 2 percent Indonesian. The food at Pelangi was just fair, but the service was good and it was moderately priced. The following night the three of us went to Al Argentino (tel.: 31-20-638-9340). This restaurant also had good service and was reasonably priced, but the food again was only average. My favorite meal of the trip was a banana pancake breakfast at The Pancake Corner (tel.: 31- 20-627-6303). Amsterdam also has fast food specialties like croquettes and french fries with mayonnaise -- or better yet, peanut sauce. Street vendors are famous for selling fresh herring. But even my brother wouldn’t eat one of those nasty-smelling things, and he loves seafood. (After smelling herring I now understand the Dutch proverb: "A herring a day keeps the doctor away; two herrings a day keeps everyone away.")

The grand finale! Holland is famous for flowers, and visitors can buy all kinds of flower souvenirs to take home, including wood carved flowers and flower bulbs at the airport (they’ve got agriculture-approved seals, so it’s no problem bringing them into the U.S.) But the best place to see Holland’s flowers is Keukenhof Gardens . Billed as "the most beautiful springtime park on earth," it is open only eight weeks each year. (Next year’s dates are March 22 to May 20.) Keukenhof, about 45 minutes from the city, is a showcase for Holland's wide range of flower bulbs. Seven million bulbs are planted here each year, and the colors are outrageous. Even in the rain, this place was amazing. During the season you can reach Keukenhof directly from the city’s Leiden Centraal railway station; then take bus 54 ("Keukenhof Express"). Admission to the garden: adults €12.50 ($16); seniors €11.50 ($14.50); children 4 to 11 € 5.50 ($7); 3 and under free.

Here’s a 2-minute Johnny Jet Video of my trip to Amsterdam. With high-speed the video takes about 1 minute to load; with dial-up, please allow up to three weeks.

Next week we travel back to the States, before jumping on another international flight to ---? Here’s a hint: It’s a country I have never been to, and since 1989 it’s become very popular.

Happy Travels,
Johnny Jet

*Please tell us what you think of this week's newsletter!

Pictures From

The Trip


Easy Jet


On The Plane


Schiphol Airport


Train To City


Hotel Krasnapolsky


My Room


Note From Hotel


View From Room


Old Buildings


Beautiful Bridges


Tree Lined Canals


Stag Party On Boat


My Friend Petra


Bikes At Train Station


Red Light District


Windows Where Prostitutes Work


Café de Jaren


Canal Cruise


Frank and Johnny


House Boat


From Boat


Rembrandt Square


Van Gogh Museum


Indonesian Food


Argentinean Food


Banana Pancakes


Herring Anyone?


Keukenhof Gardens


Purple Tulips


In The Rain



Orbitz Expedia TravelocitySideStep HotwirePricelineDelta Air LinesBooking BuddyOne Time

Lodging.comHiltonHoliday InnMarriott Hotels.com1800USAHotelPriceline HotwireBooking BuddyOne Time

Auto Europe Enterprise HertzSideStep Hotwire PricelineBooking Buddy SearchOne Time Search

Cruise CruisesCruise WizardCruise Direct


  • Just wanted to thank you for the great editorial! I couldn’t have written it better. Thanks! We have been receiving tons of visitors who read your newsletter – it’s great. Jenny F -
  • Your pictures from Scotland look amazing!! That breakfast is making me hungry, ha ha. Heather – M Boise, Idaho
  • I look forward to your travels. The DVC reviews were excellent! Do you know when and on what network your show will air? Roberta - Sun City West, AZ
  • I heard about you on NPR (national public radio) about 6 months ago, through their local affiliate in Los Angeles, KPCC at 89.3 FM. It was mentioned on either on the Talk Of The Nation show, the Morning Edition show, or the All Things Considered show. They were talking about travel, of course, and the main host said that your website was his favorite travel site. --Brian
  • Enjoyed the newsletter, but loved the video. Everything looked fabulous - the buildings, the flowers, the countryside. Can hardly wait to travel to England myself. Great job! Kuulei K - Hawaii
  • Loved the video and we loved Scotland too! Joseph McGillicuddy -
  • Enjoyed watching the trip following the Code. Many places I have visited but I love Lincoln and the Lincoln Christmas Market that I visited two years ago. It’s a fun and an easy day trip out of London by train with a change at Newark. Also Edinburgh is such a fun and easy walking city. Keep up the good work. Hope I see the show on TV. Barbara W - Southern, NJ
  • I am sitting here, tears rolling down my face, looking at the map of Steeple Aston, Oxforshire, England. A week after our marriage, my now former husband, and I were living there. We were stationed at Upperheyford RAF - Even in a cottage with no central heating. I adored England. We spent 3 weeks travelling through England, Scotland and Wales - stayed in B & B only. As I sit here at the computer, I wonder, will I ever get back? Thanks for the memories, Johnny Jet! There will ALWAYS be a place in my heart for England. PS: I really loved your newsletter. Thanks again!!! Helen E - Rapid City, South Dakota.
  • Just thought you'd like to know if you had punctuation errors in the titles in your newsletter. In the Newsletter Archive page, in the heading 2006 Newsletters, you have an apostrophe in Newsletters, but shouldn't. On the Where's Johnny Jet page, you have an apostrophe in Web Cam's - also not appropriate. I've been a regular reader of your newsletter for the last 2-3 years and look forward to receiving it every week because I enjoy it so much, but I could no longer stand it - I had to say something. I'm sorry, I know it seems nit-picky but this kind of thing drives me crazy!! And I knew you would want to know so you could correct it. Thanks again for a great newsletter - keep up the good work!! Robynne G
  • The Lincolnshire letter is once again excellent but hoped you would have kept all this info to yourself!! If you like old cathedral towns you should check out Beverley in East Yorkshire. Beverley has another {one} of Europe's finest cathedrals and one of - England’s largest mediaeval parish churches -- St. Mary's. Bill P - England

  • *** Buy Your Johnny Jet T-Shirts/Hats

    *Please note that we reserve the right to post excerpts, perhaps edited, from your message on the Johnny Jet website and newsletter. We will not use your full name without your express permission. If you'd rather not have your message posted on the website or newsletter, just say so and it won't be.

This Newsletter is sent by permission only. If you wish to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription at any time, please login HERE. If you have any questions or suggestions please send message addressed to

Join Our Mailing List
Johnny Jet

Dan Woog
About JohnnyPublicityNewsletter ArchiveMy MomPhotogalleryContact Us
Johnny's BookBlogBookmark Us BannersSuggestions